Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. We’ve left it too late to save Syria – this conflict can never be won (Daily Telegraph)

It would be madness to arm the rebels in what has become a brutal religious war, says Boris Johnson.

2. Iran has changed course. Now the US must do the same (Guardian)

Hassan Rouhani's election victory can help ease tension in the Middle East and with the United States, writes Jonathan Steele.

3. Iran's new leader offers hope for the region (Daily Telegraph)

Hassan Rowhani is politically astute, and has a vision for a more moderate regime , writes Jack Straw.

4. The best way to fight the EDL's anti-Muslim bigotry is by showing solidarity on the streets (Independent)

This racist group has been indulged by Britain's mainstream media, writes Owen Jones. We need to drown them out.

5. Boris the bold can be the Tories’ salvation (Times)

The Mayor is no standard-issue Conservative, says Tim Montgomerie. He has an Olympic-sized belief in the positive power of a strong state.

6. The red lines over Syria have not been crossed (Guardian)

The country is already awash with weapons, which are at the limit of what can be safely given to the rebels, writes Alastair Crooke.

7. West must be cautious over Iran election (Financial Times)

Embracing Hassan Rohani too warmly could hinder nuclear negotiations, writes Martin Indyk.

8. The Treasury must come clean over Lloyds (Times)

A failed Co-op bid that looked odd from the start raises suspicions of ministerial interference, writes David Davis.

9. The whistleblowers are the new generation of American patriots (Guardian)

The violation of civil liberties in the name of security has had a profound impact on those who came of age after 9/11, says Gary Younge. 

10. Obama needs to embrace the promise of the US city (Financial Times)

The US president could do a great deal more to embrace the city as the chief magnet and incubator of the intellectual capital his country needs, writes Edward Luce.

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The Fire Brigades Union reaffiliates to Labour - what does it mean?

Any union rejoining Labour will be welcomed by most in the party - but the impact on the party's internal politics will be smaller than you think.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has voted to reaffiliate to the Labour party, in what is seen as a boost to Jeremy Corbyn. What does it mean for Labour’s internal politics?

Firstly, technically, the FBU has never affliated before as they are notionally part of the civil service - however, following the firefighters' strike in 2004, they decisively broke with Labour.

The main impact will be felt on the floor of Labour party conference. Although the FBU’s membership – at around 38,000 – is too small to have a material effect on the outcome of votes themselves, it will change the tenor of the motions put before party conference.

The FBU’s leadership is not only to the left of most unions in the Trades Union Congress (TUC), it is more inclined to bring motions relating to foreign affairs than other unions with similar politics (it is more internationalist in focus than, say, the PCS, another union that may affiliate due to Corbyn’s leadership). Motions on Israel/Palestine, the nuclear deterrent, and other issues, will find more support from FBU delegates than it has from other affiliated trade unions.

In terms of the balance of power between the affiliated unions themselves, the FBU’s re-entry into Labour politics is unlikely to be much of a gamechanger. Trade union positions, elected by trade union delegates at conference, are unlikely to be moved leftwards by the reaffiliation of the FBU. Unite, the GMB, Unison and Usdaw are all large enough to all-but-guarantee themselves a seat around the NEC. Community, a small centrist union, has already lost its place on the NEC in favour of the bakers’ union, which is more aligned to Tom Watson than Jeremy Corbyn.

Matt Wrack, the FBU’s General Secretary, will be a genuine ally to Corbyn and John McDonnell. Len McCluskey and Dave Prentis were both bounced into endorsing Corbyn by their executives and did so less than wholeheartedly. Tim Roache, the newly-elected General Secretary of the GMB, has publicly supported Corbyn but is seen as a more moderate voice at the TUC. Only Dave Ward of the Communication Workers’ Union, who lent staff and resources to both Corbyn’s campaign team and to the parliamentary staff of Corbyn and McDonnell, is truly on side.

The impact of reaffiliation may be felt more keenly in local parties. The FBU’s membership looks small in real terms compared Unite and Unison have memberships of over a million, while the GMB and Usdaw are around the half-a-million mark, but is much more impressive when you consider that there are just 48,000 firefighters in Britain. This may make them more likely to participate in internal elections than other affiliated trade unionists, just 60,000 of whom voted in the Labour leadership election in 2015. However, it is worth noting that it is statistically unlikely most firefighters are Corbynites - those that are will mostly have already joined themselves. The affiliation, while a morale boost for many in the Labour party, is unlikely to prove as significant to the direction of the party as the outcome of Unison’s general secretary election or the struggle for power at the top of Unite in 2018. 

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.