Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Where's the real threat here – Kim Jong-un or Trident? (Guardian)

What we should be scared of is not the North Korean's belicosity but how it's being used to subvert domestic politics in the west, says Simon Jenkins.

2. Bank of Japan follows the Fed, on steroids (Financial Times)

The strategy may break the deflationary psyche – but it could work too well, writes Gavyn Davies.

3. Martine White is a product of welfare, not Mick Philpott (Guardian)

George Osborne is fighting back, aware that tax cuts for the rich and benefit cuts for the frail shock even natural conservatives, writes Polly Toynbee. But this is just the start.

4. Labour can’t win if it’s on Mick Philpott’s side (Times)

The voters have decided that we spend too much on welfare, says Philip Collins. Miliband must offer them more than silence in reply.

5. Philpott wasn't a symbol of Welfare UK, but blame the state for letting his depravity go unchecked (Independent)

In this so-called liberal age, we betray children by a refusal to pass the judgement which would allow us to protect them, says Ann Widdecombe.

6. On welfare, IDS is the heir to Gordon Brown (Daily Telegraph)

Iain Duncan Smith's benefit reforms mark the final nail in the coffin for Beveridge's contributory principle, argues Jeremy Warner.

7. Don’t blame the HBOS bankers, blame the politicians (Daily Telegraph)

Today's indictment of the men who brought HBOS to its knees should extend well beyond them, says Fraser Nelson.

8. Where are the activists as austerity bites? They have been beaten back (Guardian)

Protesters face violence, arrest and serious charges, writes Laurie Penny. Only the brave dare face this savage suppression.

9. The posturing boy despot who could blunder into apocalypse (Daily Mail)

Western intelligence officials believe it is the desire to leave his mark that lies behind Kim Jong-un’s seemingly unprovoked bellicosity towards the US, writes Michael Burleigh. 

10. Spend and borrow will not save the left (Financial Times)

The welfare state was built on growth, writes Philip Stephens. That is what social democrats should focus on.

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It's Gary Lineker 1, the Sun 0

The football hero has found himself at the heart of a Twitter storm over the refugee children debate.

The Mole wonders what sort of topsy-turvy universe we now live in where Gary Lineker is suddenly being called a “political activist” by a Conservative MP? Our favourite big-eared football pundit has found himself in a war of words with the Sun newspaper after wading into the controversy over the age of the refugee children granted entry into Britain from Calais.

Pictures published earlier this week in the right-wing press prompted speculation over the migrants' “true age”, and a Tory MP even went as far as suggesting that these children should have their age verified by dental X-rays. All of which leaves your poor Mole with a deeply furrowed brow. But luckily the British Dental Association was on hand to condemn the idea as unethical, inaccurate and inappropriate. Phew. Thank God for dentists.

Back to old Big Ears, sorry, Saint Gary, who on Wednesday tweeted his outrage over the Murdoch-owned newspaper’s scaremongering coverage of the story. He smacked down the ex-English Defence League leader, Tommy Robinson, in a single tweet, calling him a “racist idiot”, and went on to defend his right to express his opinions freely on his feed.

The Sun hit back in traditional form, calling for Lineker to be ousted from his job as host of the BBC’s Match of the Day. The headline they chose? “Out on his ears”, of course, referring to the sporting hero’s most notable assets. In the article, the tabloid lays into Lineker, branding him a “leftie luvvie” and “jug-eared”. The article attacked him for describing those querying the age of the young migrants as “hideously racist” and suggested he had breached BBC guidelines on impartiality.

All of which has prompted calls for a boycott of the Sun and an outpouring of support for Lineker on Twitter. His fellow football hero Stan Collymore waded in, tweeting that he was on “Team Lineker”. Leading the charge against the Murdoch-owned title was the close ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and former Channel 4 News economics editor, Paul Mason, who tweeted:

Lineker, who is not accustomed to finding himself at the centre of such highly politicised arguments on social media, responded with typical good humour, saying he had received a bit of a “spanking”.

All of which leaves the Mole with renewed respect for Lineker and an uncharacteristic desire to watch this weekend’s Match of the Day to see if any trace of his new activist persona might surface.


I'm a mole, innit.