Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. After a night at the theatre with the Queen, I worry about our democracy (Guardian)

As our politicians keep on failing, affection grows for those who are unelected.Democracy itself is looking fragile, writes Jonathan Freedland

2.  GOP needs more than borrowed rhetoric (Financial Times)

The party seems dumb. It seems uncool. And there is a reason for that, writes Christopher Caldwell

3. MPs chilled by this Northern exposure (Independent)

Deputy Speaker Lindsay Hoyles should remain in the shadows no longer, writes Donald Macinnes

4. Press regulation: the royal charter deal is a move towards a better democracy (Guardian)

We have neglected our duty of care when it comes to the relationship between the media and democratic values, writes David Puttnam

5. Southern Europe lies prostrate before the German imperium (Telegraph)

Cyprus is only the first victim of a one-size-must-fit-all policy that is made in Berlin, writes Charles Moore

6. If the US constitution and Karl Marx can agree on a free press, why can't we? (Independent)

There is now to be one law for Hello! and another for Angling Times, writes Francis Wheen

7. When will this winter ever end? (Telegraph)

British Summer Time and the cricket season are nearly upon us, yet as snow, bitter winds and floods once again disrupt the country, any sign of spring has been extinguished, writes Michael Leapman

8. Chinua Achebe's death: we have lost a brother (Guardian)

Chinua was a man of resilient will. His works are testimony to the domination of the human spirit over the forces of repression, write Wole Soyinka and JP Clark

9. Cyprus tremors could shake the world (Financial Times)

Far more at stake than the solvency of the island’s banks, writes Tony Barber

10. General Greg Dyke and the winter of Qatar 2022.By Kurt Vonnegut (Guardian)

As Fifa hints at moving the Qatar World Cup to a cooler season, football may finally be about to go to war – with real armies writes Marina Hyde 

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Can Philip Hammond save the Conservatives from public anger at their DUP deal?

The Chancellor has the wriggle room to get close to the DUP's spending increase – but emotion matters more than facts in politics.

The magic money tree exists, and it is growing in Northern Ireland. That’s the attack line that Labour will throw at Theresa May in the wake of her £1bn deal with the DUP to keep her party in office.

It’s worth noting that while £1bn is a big deal in terms of Northern Ireland’s budget – just a touch under £10bn in 2016/17 – as far as the total expenditure of the British government goes, it’s peanuts.

The British government spent £778bn last year – we’re talking about spending an amount of money in Northern Ireland over the course of two years that the NHS loses in pen theft over the course of one in England. To match the increase in relative terms, you’d be looking at a £35bn increase in spending.

But, of course, political arguments are about gut instinct rather than actual numbers. The perception that the streets of Antrim are being paved by gold while the public realm in England, Scotland and Wales falls into disrepair is a real danger to the Conservatives.

But the good news for them is that last year Philip Hammond tweaked his targets to give himself greater headroom in case of a Brexit shock. Now the Tories have experienced a shock of a different kind – a Corbyn shock. That shock was partly due to the Labour leader’s good campaign and May’s bad campaign, but it was also powered by anger at cuts to schools and anger among NHS workers at Jeremy Hunt’s stewardship of the NHS. Conservative MPs have already made it clear to May that the party must not go to the country again while defending cuts to school spending.

Hammond can get to slightly under that £35bn and still stick to his targets. That will mean that the DUP still get to rave about their higher-than-average increase, while avoiding another election in which cuts to schools are front-and-centre. But whether that deprives Labour of their “cuts for you, but not for them” attack line is another question entirely. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

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