Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Margaret Thatcher's Britain: we still live in the land Maggie built (Guardian)

The coalition is maintaining Thatcher's project of rolling back the frontiers of the state, dismantling the settlement that held from 1945 until it unravelled in the 1970s, writes Jonathan Freedland.

2. Marvel at Mrs Thatcher – the outsider who beat the system (Daily Telegraph)

Unlike most politicians today, she had courage, integrity and a clear sense who she was, says Peter Oborne. 

3. The Iron Lady towers over modern Britain (Financial Times)

Thatcher’s legacy is not order – though that was a precious achievement – but freedom, says Janan Ganesh.

4. Margaret Thatcher: the lady and the land she leaves behind (Guardian)

Her legacy is public division, private selfishness and a cult of greed that together shackle the human spirit, says a Guardian editorial.

5. How Thatcher restored Britain’s optimism (Times)

Children will study the former Prime Minister in the same way they study Elizabeth I, Cromwell and Churchill, writes George Osborne.

6. Margaret Thatcher broke Britain and replaced it with something crueller and nastier (Daily Mirror)

Many of the problems experienced today on bleak estates – joblessness, drugs, despair and hopelessness – can be traced back to her disastrous premiership, says a Daily Mirror editorial.

7. They underrated her, and always paid the price (Daily Telegraph)

Thatcher was not regarded as much of a threat by Labour when she became Tory leader in 1975, says David Owen. 

8. Thatcherism was a national catastrophe that still poisons us (Independent)

We are in the midst of the third great economic collapse since the Second World War: all three have taken place since Thatcherism launched its great crusade, writes Owen Jones.

9. This is a solemn and awesome moment in the history of our people, and we must mark it accordingly (Daily Mail)

Our nation pays no higher tribute to its great men and women than to accord them a state funeral, writes Simon Heffer. By any standards, Margaret Thatcher must have one.

10. The Lloyds workers are paying for their bosses' catastrophe (Guardian)

Average Lloyds employees face hardship and redundancy, writes Aditya Chakrabortty. Meanwhile, those that led them into this mess are thriving.

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How the Lib Dems learned to love all-women shortlists

Yes, the sitting Lib Dem MPs are mostly white, middle-aged middle class men. But the party's not taking any chances. 

I can’t tell you who’ll be the Lib Dem candidate in Southport on 8 June, but I do know one thing about them. As they’re replacing a sitting Lib Dem (John Pugh is retiring) - they’ll be female.

The same is true in many of our top 20 target seats, including places like Lewes (Kelly-Marie Blundell), Yeovil (Daisy Benson), Thornbury and Yate (Clare Young), and Sutton and Cheam (Amna Ahmad). There was air punching in Lib Dem offices all over the country on Tuesday when it was announced Jo Swinson was standing again in East Dunbartonshire.

And while every current Lib Dem constituency MP will get showered with love and attention in the campaign, one will get rather more attention than most - it’s no coincidence that Tim Farron’s first stop of the campaign was in Richmond Park, standing side by side with Sarah Olney.

How so?

Because the party membership took a long look at itself after the 2015 election - and a rather longer look at the eight white, middle-aged middle class men (sorry chaps) who now formed the Parliamentary party and said - "we’ve really got to sort this out".

And so after decades of prevarication, we put a policy in place to deliberately increase the diversity of candidates.

Quietly, over the last two years, the Liberal Democrats have been putting candidates into place in key target constituencies . There were more than 300 in total before this week’s general election call, and many of them have been there for a year or more. And they’ve been selected under new procedures adopted at Lib Dem Spring Conference in 2016, designed to deliberately promote the diversity of candidates in winnable seats

This includes mandating all-women shortlists when selecting candidates who are replacing sitting MPs, similar rules in our strongest electoral regions. In our top 10 per cent of constituencies, there is a requirement that at least two candidates are shortlisted from underrepresented groups on every list. We became the first party to reserve spaces on the shortlists of winnable seats for underrepresented candidates including women, BAME, LGBT+ and disabled candidates

It’s not going to be perfect - the hugely welcome return of Lib Dem grandees like Vince Cable, Ed Davey and Julian Huppert to their old stomping grounds will strengthen the party but not our gender imbalance. But excluding those former MPs coming back to the fray, every top 20 target constituency bar one has to date selected a female candidate.

Equality (together with liberty and community) is one of the three key values framed in the preamble to the Lib Dem constitution. It’s a relief that after this election, the Liberal Democratic party in the Commons will reflect that aspiration rather better than it has done in the past.

Richard Morris blogs at A View From Ham Common, which was named Best New Blog at the 2011 Lib Dem Conference

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