Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read comment pieces from the papers.

1. The giants of the green world that profit from the planet's destruction (Guardian)

A new movement has erupted demanding divestment from fossil fuel polluters – and Big Green is in their sights, writes Naomi Klein.

2. Panic is pointless. UKIP’s not a serious party (Times)

Nigel Farage is benefiting from a move away from two-party domination, but protest parties always fizzle out, says Philip Collins.

3. Wanted: a leader who can unite the warring Tory tribes (Daily Telegraph)

The modernisers and the right of the Conservative Party need one another to create a winning coalition, says Iain Martin.

4. We know spending on the arts makes big money for Britain. So why cut it? (Guardian)

Whingeing luvvies are easily mocked but it just doesn't make sense to give way to this purblind, anti-cultural bias, says Polly Toynbee.

5. Will Osborne choose politics or prudence? (Times)

If the Chancellor rushes to give away bank shares, he will reveal his true priorities, writes Sam Coates.

6. Will Carney be a man of independent mind? (Daily Telegraph)

Chancellor George Osborne has made himself clear, and the new Bank of England governor may face an early test, writes Jeremy Warner.

7. No such thing as ‘historic’ rape (Independent)

There no reason – legal or moral – for such crimes to "expire", particularly given the trauma that often results, says an Independent editorial.

8. Threats to Asia’s fragile power balance (Financial Times)

The world’s most vibrant region is also potentially its most combustible, writes Philip Stephens.

9. Charging headlong towards a secret state (Daily Mail)

Secret arrests are an assault on Britain's hard-won freedoms, says a Daily Mail editorial.

10. Holland is proof that the less power a monarch has the more we seem to love them (Independent)

When nations fall into crisis, their populations cry out for the saviour figure, writes Peter Popham.

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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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