Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Think they can't axe David Cameron? Don't bet on it (Daily Mail)

If the Prime Minister's refusal to change policies looks like bringing certain defeat, the Tories will dump him, writes Simon Heffer.

2. Britain should lead in Europe, not leave it (Financial Times)

Isolation would make us weaker and poorer, writes Michael Heseltine.

3. Signs of Recovery (Times)

Data suggests evidence of an upturn, notes a Times leader. The government must ease the conditions for investment-led growth.

4. Prince Charles is a danger to democracy – even when I agree with him (Guardian)

I support Charles's views on climate change, but still believe he should stay silent – as the Queen probably does, says Peter Wilby.

5. The Syrian dilemma: inch by inch, the west gets involved in an internecine civil war (Independent)

Even if there is a breakthrough, Jabhat al-Nusra and its allies have stated clearly that they will have no truck with negotiations, writes Kim Sengupta.

6. Raised voices do not convince me on Europe (Times)

It is hard to share the certainties of either side in the in-out argument, writes Matthew Parris. We don’t-knows deserve better.

7. David Cameron would like to forget gay marriage, but it will haunt him (Daily Telegraph)

The coalition alters mankind’s most important social structure at its peril, writes Charles Moore.

8. Labour and coalition: Talking time (Guardian)

It is not too early to hope that some better preparatory work than last time is already in train, not least on the personal level, says a Guardian editorial.

9. Don’t get cross about the old man's network - get even (Daily Telegraph)

Instead of resenting the injustice of internships, maximise a child's chances by teaching them to read and write, says Graeme Archer.

10. Proof that leaders need to look the part (Financial Times)

We expect successful people to be attractive, writes Tim Harford.

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No, David Cameron’s speech was not “left wing”

Come on, guys.

There is a strange journalistic phenomenon that occurs when a party leader makes a speech. It is a blend of groupthink, relief, utter certainty, and online backslapping. It happened particularly quickly after David Cameron’s speech to Tory party conference today. A few pundits decided that – because he mentioned, like, diversity and social mobility – this was a centre-left speech. A leftwing speech, even. Or at least a clear grab for the liberal centre ground. And so that’s what everyone now believes. The analysis is decided. The commentary is written. Thank God for that.

Really? It’s quite easy, even as one of those nasty, wicked Tories, to mention that you actually don’t much like racism, and point out that you’d quite like poor children to get jobs, without moving onto Labour's "territory". Which normal person is in favour of discriminating against someone on the basis of race, or blocking opportunity on the basis of class? Of course he’s against that. He’s a politician operating in a liberal democracy. And this isn’t Ukip conference.

Looking at the whole package, it was actually quite a rightwing speech. It was a paean to defence – championing drones, protecting Britain from the evils of the world, and getting all excited about “launching the biggest aircraft carriers in our history”.

It was a festival of flagwaving guff about the British “character”, a celebration of shoehorning our history chronologically onto the curriculum, looking towards a “Greater Britain”, asking for more “national pride”. There was even a Bake Off pun.

He also deployed the illiberal device of inculcating a divide-and-rule fear of the “shadow of extremism – hanging over every single one of us”, informing us that children in UK madrassas are having their “heads filled with poison and their hearts filled with hate”, and saying Britain shouldn’t be “overwhelmed” with refugees, before quickly changing the subject to ousting Assad. How unashamedly centrist, of you, Mr Prime Minister.

Benefit cuts and a reduction of tax credits will mean the Prime Minister’s enthusiasm for “equality of opportunity, as opposed to equality of outcome” will be just that – with the outcome pretty bleak for those who end up losing any opportunity that comes with state support. And his excitement about diversity in his cabinet rings a little hollow the day following a tubthumping anti-immigration speech from his Home Secretary.

If this year's Tory conference wins the party votes, it’ll be because of its conservative commitment – not lefty love bombing.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.