Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Don't get mad about the Mail's use of the Philpotts to tarnish the poor – get even (Guardian)

30 years of widening inequality have built a Tory Narnia riven by distrust, writes Zoe Williams. It doesn't have to be like this.

2. The PM's critics are wrong. He’s on the verge of something great (Daily Telegraph)

A revolution is under way in health, welfare and education that may change Britain forever, says Peter Oborne.

3. We can’t limit free speech. Even for Di Canio (Times)

Once I proclaimed ‘no platform for fascists’, writes David Aaronovitch. Now I can see that toleration is a far more potent weapon.

4. We need a nuclear deterrent more than ever (Daily Telegraph)

A credible and continuous independent nuclear deterrent remains a crucial component of our national security, argues David Cameron.

5. Trident: the nuclear jobcentre (Guardian)

Treating Trident as an employment scheme will leave Britain ill equipped for the real threat: terrorism, says Richard Norton-Taylor.

6. Gove and the unions are betraying our children (Independent)

Their noisy debate leaves parents aghast at what awaits our children in the classroom, writes Jane Merrick.

7. Cleaner politics in France (Financial Times)

Hollande’s move to raise standards is overdue, says an FT editorial.

8. Real Time Information may be a reform too far (Daily Telegraph)

Whitehall’s record does not fill us with confidence that a major IT reform to the PAYE system will be handled well, says a Telegraph editorial.

9. Financial reform is coming to America (Financial Times)

It is no longer in the interests of Obama’s critics to delay, writes Barney Frank.

10. Don't make a martyr of Bradley Manning (Guardian)

The US should be a beacon of justice, not a bully, writes PJ Crowley. Any further pursuit of Manning is a propaganda gift to the country's enemies.

Julia Rampen
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Donald Trump's inauguration marks the start of the progressive fightback

Opponents to Donald Trump and Brexit are reaching across the Atlantic. But can they catch up with the alt-right? 

In the icy lemon sunshine of 20 January 2017, a group of protestors lined London’s Millennium Bridge, drumming. Two scarf-clad organisers held placards that spelt “Open Hearts”. 

Protesting the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th US President might seem like a waste of time when you could spend the day under the covers instead. But the protestors were upbeat. Sophie Dyer, a part-time student and graphic designer I met on the bridge, told me her group were “trying to avoid mentioning his name”. 

When I asked her what had catalysed her interest in political activism, she said: “Everything. 2016.”

One of the trademarks of the times is the way the alt-right learnt from each other, from Donald Trump crowning himself “Mr Brexit”, to France’s Marine Le Pen sipping coffee at Trump Towers. Now, progressives are trying to do the same. 

The protestors were part of the Bridges Not Walls protests. Ten hours before I stepped onto the Millennium Bridge, New Zealand activists had already got started. As the sun rose over Europe, banners unfurled from bridges in Dubai, France, Spain, Sweden and Norway. In the UK, there were also protests in other cities including Edinburgh and Oxford.

The demonstrations are about Trump – the name is a direct rebuke to his pledge to build a wall on the southern border – but they are no less about Brexit, or, as environmental campaigner Annabelle Acton-Boyd put it, “right-wing populist movements”. 

Acton-Boyd said she had come to show solidarity with American friends who opposed Trump.

But she added: “It is about coming together supporting each other geographically, and across different [political and social] movements.” 

In the election post-mortem, one of the questions confronting progressives is whether voters and activists were too focused on their own issues to see the bigger picture. This varies from controversial debates over the role of identity politics, to the simpler fact that thousands of voters in the rustbelt who might have otherwise helped Clinton opted for the Green candidate Jill Stein.

But while Bridges Not Walls paid homage to different causes - LGBTQ rights were represented on one bridge, climate change on an other - each  remained part of the whole. The UK Green Party used the event to launch a “Citizens of the World” campaign aimed at resettling more child refugees. 

Meanwhile, Trump and his European allies are moving fast to redefine normal. Already, media critics are being blocked from presidential press conferences, divisive appointments have been made and the intelligence authorities undermined. 

As US opponents of Trump can learn from those in the UK resisting a hard Brexit, resisting this kind of right-wing populism comes at a cost, whether that is personal infamy a la Gina Miller, or the many hours spent dusting off books on constitutional law. 

The question for transatlantic progressives, though, is whether they are prepared to leave the morning sunshine for the less glamorous elbow grease of opposition – the late night email exchanges, the unpaid blog posts, the ability to compromise - that will be needed to bend the arc of history back towards justice. 

 

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.