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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PMQs review: Jeremy Corbyn prompts Tory outrage as he blames Grenfell Tower fire on austerity

To Conservative cries of "shame on you!", the Labour leader warned that "we all pay a price in public safety" for spending cuts.

A fortnight after the Grenfell Tower fire erupted, the tragedy continues to cast a shadow over British politics. Rather than probing Theresa May on the DUP deal, Jeremy Corbyn asked a series of forensic questions on the incident, in which at least 79 people are confirmed to have died.

In the first PMQs of the new parliament, May revealed that the number of buildings that had failed fire safety tests had risen to 120 (a 100 per cent failure rate) and that the cladding used on Grenfell Tower was "non-compliant" with building regulations (Corbyn had asked whether it was "legal").

After several factual questions, the Labour leader rose to his political argument. To cries of "shame on you!" from Tory MPs, he warned that local authority cuts of 40 per cent meant "we all pay a price in public safety". Corbyn added: “What the tragedy of Grenfell Tower has exposed is the disastrous effects of austerity. The disregard for working-class communities, the terrible consequences of deregulation and cutting corners." Corbyn noted that 11,000 firefighters had been cut and that the public sector pay cap (which Labour has tabled a Queen's Speech amendment against) was hindering recruitment. "This disaster must be a wake-up call," he concluded.

But May, who fared better than many expected, had a ready retort. "The cladding of tower blocks did not start under this government, it did not start under the previous coalition governments, the cladding of tower blocks began under the Blair government," she said. “In 2005 it was a Labour government that introduced the regulatory reform fire safety order which changed the requirements to inspect a building on fire safety from the local fire authority to a 'responsible person'." In this regard, however, Corbyn's lack of frontbench experience is a virtue – no action by the last Labour government can be pinned on him. 

Whether or not the Conservatives accept the link between Grenfell and austerity, their reluctance to defend continued cuts shows an awareness of how politically vulnerable they have become (No10 has announced that the public sector pay cap is under review).

Though Tory MP Philip Davies accused May of having an "aversion" to policies "that might be popular with the public" (he demanded the abolition of the 0.7 per cent foreign aid target), there was little dissent from the backbenches – reflecting the new consensus that the Prime Minister is safe (in the absence of an attractive alternative).

And May, whose jokes sometimes fall painfully flat, was able to accuse Corbyn of saying "one thing to the many and another thing to the few" in reference to his alleged Trident comments to Glastonbury festival founder Michael Eavis. But the Labour leader, no longer looking fearfully over his shoulder, displayed his increased authority today. Though the Conservatives may jeer him, the lingering fear in Tory minds is that they and the country are on divergent paths. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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