Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read comment pieces from this morning's papers.

1. Ed Miliband's 10p tax pledge is smart politics but dumb policy (Observer)

Andrew Rawnsely is unimpressed by the Labour leader's latest gambit...

2. Gordon Brown is dead, long live Gordon Brown (Sunday Times)

.... while Rafael Behr spots a familiar style in the way Ed Miliband plays his politics ...

3. Ed Miliband, the candidate from Planet Zog (Independent on Sunday)

... as does John Rentoul, who thinks the Labour leader lacks dexterity.

4. The meat scandal shows all that is rotten about our free marketeers (Observer)

Will Hutton finds the Conservative party ideologically ill-equipped to deal with another crisis in capitalism.

5. The Red Tops have a repellent new invention - murder trial porn (Independent on Sunday)

Joan Smith takes tabloids to task for demeaning the victims of terrible violent crimes.

6. Welsh Minister baffles himself on gay marriage (Observer)

Barbara Ellen finds David Jones's comments garbled and contradictory.

7. Why I am committed to global tax reform (Observer)

Op-ed, in which George Osborne pledges action on tax avoidance.

8. A drama that beats any Dan Brown plot (Sunday Telegraph)

Peter Stanford picks up some conspiracy theories around Pope Benedict's resignation.

9. Have the lessons of Iraq really been learnt (Independent on Sunday)

Former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Cambell is disappointed and cross.

10. If the tax rate does fall to 10p it will be because of America (Mail on Sunday)

James Forsyth identifies trans-Atlantic inspiration in Labour policy-making.


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Lord Geoffrey Howe dies, age 88

Howe was Margaret Thatcher's longest serving Cabinet minister – and the man credited with precipitating her downfall.

The former Conservative chancellor Lord Howe, a key figure in the Thatcher government, has died of a suspected heart attack, his family has said. He was 88.

Geoffrey Howe was the longest-serving member of Margaret Thatcher's Cabinet, playing a key role in both her government and her downfall. Born in Port Talbot in 1926, he began his career as a lawyer, and was first elected to parliament in 1964, but lost his seat just 18 months later.

Returning as MP for Reigate in the Conservative election victory of 1970, he served in the government of Edward Heath, first as Solicitor General for England & Wales, then as a Minister of State for Trade. When Margaret Thatcher became opposition leader in 1975, she named Howe as her shadow chancellor.

He retained this brief when the party returned to government in 1979. In the controversial budget of 1981, he outlined a radical monetarist programme, abandoning then-mainstream economic thinking by attempting to rapidly tackle the deficit at a time of recession and unemployment. Following the 1983 election, he was appointed as foreign secretary, in which post he negotiated the return of Hong Kong to China.

In 1989, Thatcher demoted Howe to the position of leader of the house and deputy prime minister. And on 1 November 1990, following disagreements over Britain's relationship with Europe, he resigned from the Cabinet altogether. 

Twelve days later, in a powerful speech explaining his resignation, he attacked the prime minister's attitude to Brussels, and called on his former colleagues to "consider their own response to the tragic conflict of loyalties with which I have myself wrestled for perhaps too long".

Labour Chancellor Denis Healey once described an attack from Howe as "like being savaged by a dead sheep" - but his resignation speech is widely credited for triggering the process that led to Thatcher's downfall. Nine days later, her premiership was over.

Howe retired from the Commons in 1992, and was made a life peer as Baron Howe of Aberavon. He later said that his resignation speech "was not intended as a challenge, it was intended as a way of summarising the importance of Europe". 

Nonetheless, he added: "I am sure that, without [Thatcher's] resignation, we would not have won the 1992 election... If there had been a Labour government from 1992 onwards, New Labour would never have been born."

Jonn Elledge is the editor of the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric. He is on Twitter, far too much, as @JonnElledge.