Morning call: pick of the papers

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

1. Pryce should have done what Huhne asked: Don't. Talk. To. A. Newspaper (Guardian)

Marina Hyde reflects on the conviction of Vicky Pryce. 

2. Everything has changed – pity we’ve got the same old politicians (Telegraph)

Leaders in Britain and America seem unable to grasp the reality of voters’ lives, says Charles Moore.

3. The Eastleigh by-election has left the Tories bewildered – like Bisou – but not shaken loose of our senses (Telegraph)

A cat hidden in a suitcase provides a metaphor for the Conservative party, in Graeme Archer's column.

4. Your DIY guide to pointless political advice (The Times) (£)

A treat for armchair pundits, Matthew Parriss's 13 tips for saying nothing at all – and saying it loud, confident and clear.

5. Nick Clegg: from Dead Man Walking to Last Man Standing (Guardian)

Jonathan Freedland takes an optimistic look at the fortunes of the deputy prime minister.

6. Ministers must move fast to help an overworked Queen (Daily Mail)

Simon Heffer worries that the Queen's punishing schedule is unsustainable. 

7. The moral: only clever people can be this stupid (The Times) (£)

Janice Turner on Pryce/Huhne.

8. Children are sent to school too early in this country (Guardian)

Deborah Orr  says that special educational needs affect all ability levels. As other European models show, many children may be suited to less prescriptive learning – and a later start

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Richmond is a wake-up call for Labour's Brexit strategy

No one made Labour stand in Richmond Park. 

Oh, Labour Party. There was a way through.

No one made you stand in Richmond Park. You could have "struck a blow against the government", you could have shared the Lib Dem success. Instead, you lost both your dignity and your deposit. And to cap it all (Christian Wolmar, take a bow) you self-nominated for a Nobel Prize for Mansplaining.

It’s like the party strategist is locked in the bowels of HQ, endlessly looping in reverse Olivia Newton John’s "Making a Good Thing Better".

And no one can think that today marks the end of the party’s problems on Brexit.

But the thing is: there’s no need to Labour on. You can fix it.

Set the government some tests. Table some amendments: “The government shall negotiate having regard to…”

  • What would be good for our economy (boost investment, trade and jobs).
  • What would enhance fairness (help individuals and communities who have missed out over the last decades).
  • What would deliver sovereignty (magnify our democratic control over our destiny).
  • What would improve finances (what Brexit makes us better off, individually and collectively). 

And say that, if the government does not meet those tests, the Labour party will not support the Article 50 deal. You’ll take some pain today – but no matter, the general election is not for years. And if the tests are well crafted they will be easy to defend.

Then wait for the negotiations to conclude. If in 2019, Boris Johnson returns bearing cake for all, if the tests are achieved, Labour will, and rightly, support the government’s Brexit deal. There will be no second referendum. And MPs in Leave voting constituencies will bear no Brexit penalty at the polls.

But if he returns with thin gruel? If the economy has tanked, if inflation is rising and living standards have slumped, and the deficit has ballooned – what then? The only winners will be door manufacturers. Across the country they will be hard at work replacing those kicked down at constituency offices by voters demanding a fix. Labour will be joined in rejecting the deal from all across the floor: Labour will have shown the way.

Because the party reads the electorate today as wanting Brexit, it concludes it must deliver it. But, even for those who think a politician’s job is to channel the electorate, this thinking discloses an error in logic. The task is not to read the political dynamic of today. It is to position itself for the dynamic when it matters - at the next general election

And by setting some economic tests for a good Brexit, Labour can buy an option on that for free.

An earlier version of this argument appeared on Jolyon Maugham's blog Waiting For Tax.

Jolyon Maugham is a barrister who advised Ed Miliband on tax policy. He blogs at Waiting for Tax, and writes for the NS on tax and legal issues.