Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Intervention: too much of it abroad, not enough of it at home (Independent)

The mark of the liberal interventionist is a mix of faith in the state, and scepticism about it, writes Steve Richards.

2. Keep out, they say. But then comes cataclysm (Times)

If Assad, Russia and Hezbollah win the civil war in Syria, the rest of the world is likely to pay a heavy price, writes David Aaronovitch.

3. Mervyn King: goodbye to the governor (Guardian)

The British economy was in for a painful recession in 2008-09; but through his inaction, Sir Mervyn made it worse, says a Guardian editorial.

4. Britain’s banks are still a danger to the real economy (Financial Times)

Is the UK economy now protected from the City? The simple answer is no, says Chris Giles.

5. The Tories will never triumph with five chairmen at the helm (Daily Telegraph)

The party organisation is a total mess – but Boris Johnson could restore clarity, writes Peter Oborne.

6. Our love for the NHS blinds us to its failures. Morecambe Bay is yet another wake up call (Independent)

There have been too many hospital scandals where trusts promise to ‘learn the lessons’, writes Jane Merrick. 

7. Be true to yourself. Is this really the best the Guides can do for girls? (Guardian)

The schmaltzy motto embedded in the organisation's new oath is more likely to build insecure narcissism than help girls develop, writes Zoe Williams. 

8. Big Steel is a very big problem for China (Financial Times)

Wisco is a large part of an ailing, inefficient industry that Beijing appears unable to discipline, writes John Gapper.

9. Our banks are not merely out of control. They're beyond control (Guardian)

Jailing reckless bankers is a dangerously incomplete solution, says Joris Luyendijk. The market is bust. 

10. The populists reshaping Westminster politics (Daily Telegraph)

Say goodbye to the dinosaurs, people like Margaret Hodge, chairman of the Commons public accounts committee, are making the weather, says Sue Cameron.

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Jeremy Corbyn's Labour conference speech shows how he's grown

The leader's confident address will have impressed even his fiercest foes. 

It is not just Jeremy Corbyn’s mandate that has been improved by his re-election. The Labour leader’s conference speech was, by some distance, the best he has delivered. He spoke with far greater confidence, clarity and energy than previously. From its self-deprecating opening onwards ("Virgin Trains assure me there are 800 empty seats") we saw a leader improved in almost every respect. 

Even Corbyn’s firecest foes will have found less to take issue with than they may have anticipated. He avoided picking a fight on Trident (unlike last year), delivered his most forceful condemnation of anti-Semitism (“an evil”) and, with the exception of the Iraq war, avoided attacks on New Labour’s record. The video which preceded his arrival, and highlighted achievements from the Blair-Brown years, was another olive branch. But deselection, which Corbyn again refused to denounce, will remain a running sore (MPs alleged that Hillsborough campaigner Sheila Coleman, who introduced Corbyn, is seeking to deselect Louise Ellman and backed the rival TUSC last May).

Corbyn is frequently charged with lacking policies. But his lengthy address contained several new ones: the removal of the cap on council borrowing (allowing an extra 60,000 houses to be built), a ban on arms sales to abusive regimes and an arts pupil premium in every primary school.

On policy, Corbyn frequently resembles Ed Miliband in his more radical moments, unrestrained by Ed Balls and other shadow cabinet members. He promised £500bn of infrastructure investment (spread over a decade with £150bn from the private sector), “a real living wage”, the renationalisation of the railways, rent controls and a ban on zero-hours contracts.

Labour’s greatest divisions are not over policy but rules, strategy and culture. Corbyn’s opponents will charge him with doing far too little to appeal to the unconverted - Conservative voters most of all. But he spoke with greater conviction than before of preparing for a general election (acknowledging that Labour faced an arithmetical “mountain”) and successfully delivered the attack lines he has often shunned.

“Even Theresa May gets it, that people want change,” he said. “That’s why she stood on the steps of Downing Street and talked about the inequalities and burning injustices in today’s Britain. She promised a country: ‘that works not for a privileged few but for every one of us’. But even if she manages to talk the talk, she can’t walk the walk. This isn’t a new government, it’s David Cameron’s government repackaged with progressive slogans but with a new harsh right-wing edge, taking the country backwards and dithering before the historic challenges of Brexit.”

After a second landslide victory, Corbyn is, for now, unassailable. Many MPs, having voted no confidence in him, will never serve on the frontbench. But an increasing number, recognising Corbyn’s immovability, speak once again of seeking to “make it work”. For all the ructions of this summer, Corbyn’s speech will have helped to persuade them that they can.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.