Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Osborne should not be complacent (Financial Times)

The decision to tighten fiscal policy was a spectacular own goal even if the IMF does not dare to say so, writes Martin Wolf.

2. The Muslim faith does not turn men to terror (Daily Telegraph)

The two suspects in the Woolwich killing were violating the doctrine of their own holy book, says Mehdi Hasan.

3. Tories should not be prisoners of tradition (Times)

Tom Paine is hardly an icon of conservatism, but he has important lessons about marriage for David Cameron, writes Philip Collins.

4. Woolwich was a case study in the banality - and the idiocy - of evil (Daily Telegraph)

We shouldn’t bother looking for any logic in attacks like these, writes Fraser Nelson. There is none to be found.

5. This echo chamber of mass hysteria only aids terrorists (Guardian)

Perpetrators of violent acts of terror thrive on publicity – so politicians and the media need to stop giving it to them, writes Simon Jenkins.

6. For the best results, keep executive pay down (Times)

The bosses of the NHS and G4S earned so much that they had no fear of failure, says Ross Clark.

7. Why the right could doom welfare reform (Daily Telegraph)

Disability testing isn’t working as it should – and Conservatives must have the courage to admit it, says Isabel Hardman. 

8. George Osborne puts his pride before the national interest (Guardian)

An economically literate chancellor would rise to the challenge set down by the IMF, writes Ed Balls.

9. The long recession has one silver lining; EU leaders are finally tackling 'tax shopping' head on (Independent)

Cyprus was widely criticised for offering a haven for the money of Russian oligarchs, but the rest of Europe is littered with similarly cosy nooks, writes Peter Popham.

10. Jeremy Hunt's blundering blaming of GPs makes for bad politics (Guardian)

The health secretary is taking a risk in gunning for family doctors, says Polly Toynbee. The public trust them more than they do those in government.

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Who will win in Manchester Gorton?

Will Labour lose in Manchester Gorton?

The death of Gerald Kaufman will trigger a by-election in his Manchester Gorton seat, which has been Labour-held since 1935.

Coming so soon after the disappointing results in Copeland – where the seat was lost to the Tories – and Stoke – where the party lost vote share – some overly excitable commentators are talking up the possibility of an upset in the Manchester seat.

But Gorton is very different to Stoke-on-Trent and to Copeland. The Labour lead is 56 points, compared to 16.5 points in Stoke-on-Trent and 6.5 points in Copeland. (As I’ve written before and will doubtless write again, it’s much more instructive to talk about vote share rather than vote numbers in British elections. Most of the country tends to vote in the same way even if they vote at different volumes.)

That 47 per cent of the seat's residents come from a non-white background and that the Labour party holds every council seat in the constituency only adds to the party's strong position here. 

But that doesn’t mean that there is no interest to be had in the contest at all. That the seat voted heavily to remain in the European Union – around 65 per cent according to Chris Hanretty’s estimates – will provide a glimmer of hope to the Liberal Democrats that they can finish a strong second, as they did consistently from 1992 to 2010, before slumping to fifth in 2015.

How they do in second place will inform how jittery Labour MPs with smaller majorities and a history of Liberal Democrat activity are about Labour’s embrace of Brexit.

They also have a narrow chance of becoming competitive should Labour’s selection turn acrimonious. The seat has been in special measures since 2004, which means the selection will be run by the party’s national executive committee, though several local candidates are tipped to run, with Afzal Khan,  a local MEP, and Julie Reid, a local councillor, both expected to run for the vacant seats.

It’s highly unlikely but if the selection occurs in a way that irritates the local party or provokes serious local in-fighting, you can just about see how the Liberal Democrats give everyone a surprise. But it’s about as likely as the United States men landing on Mars any time soon – plausible, but far-fetched. 

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