Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Protests around the world are keeping the spirit of Occupy alive (Guardian)

The unrest of 2011 is likely to last for decades, writes John Harris. From Istanbul to Rio, it's not about austerity, but the nature of the state.

2. Build homes. Give hope to the next generation (Times)

Housing shortages lead to many of our worst social problems, writes Tim Montgomerie. MPs should support Nick Boles, not the Nimbys.

3. The best cut of all? Shut the Treasury (Financial Times)

It is not easy to find any other body that has made so many mistakes, writes Philip Stephens.

4. When anti-gay bigotry is just another lock on the closet (Independent)

Is it surprising that those obsessed with gay sex may have a fondness for men, asks Owen Jones.

5. I supported Brazil's World Cup bid, but even I am against it now (Guardian)

This mega event can only deepen Brazil's problems, says Romario. The only beneficiary will be Fifa.

6. First-time voters key to election (Sun)

These are the New Libertarians, independent-minded and tolerant of social change but keen to see taxpayers keeping more of their own money, writes Trevor Kavanagh. 

7. Foreign aid is an investment in our future (Daily Telegraph)

Jobs and the free market are at the heart of a revolution in the way Britain offers help, argues Andrew Mitchell. 

8. Republicans are out of step with the times (Financial Times)

The gulf between the party base and the middle ground cripples its ability to field appealing candidates, writes Philip Stephens.

9. Triple the population – we’ll all be better off (Times)

Our planet is far from crowded, says Mark Littlewood. Doom-laden predictions about our future are wildly out.

10. It can't be done, George Osborne (Daily Telegraph)

Until the Chancellor tackles the relentless growth of 'social protection’, he will not make a dent in our deficit, says Jeff Randall.

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John McDonnell praises New Labour as he enters conciliatory mode

The shadow chancellor sought to build a bridge between the past and the present by crediting the 1997 government. 

Ever since Jeremy Corbyn became Labour leader, John McDonnell has been on a mission to reinvent himself as a kinder, gentler politician. He hasn’t always succeeded. In July, the shadow chancellor declared of rebel MPs: “As plotters they were fucking useless”.

But in his Labour conference speech, Corbyn’s closest ally was firmly in conciliatory mode. McDonnell thanked Owen Smith for his part in defeating the Personal Independence Payment cuts. He praised Caroline Flint, with whom he has clashed, for her amendment to the financial bill on corporate tax transparency. Jonathan Reynolds, who will soon return to the frontbench, was credited for the “patriots pay their taxes” campaign (the latter two not mentioned in the original text).

McDonnell’s ecunmenicism didn’t end here. The 1997 Labour government, against which he and Corbyn so often defined themselves, was praised for its introduction of the minimum wage (though McDonnell couldn’t quite bring himself to mention Tony Blair). Promising a “real Living Wage” of around £10 per hour, the shadow chancellor sought to build a bridge between the past and the present. Though he couldn’t resist adding some red water as he closed: “In this party you no longer have to whisper it, it's called socialism. Solidarity!”

As a rebuke to those who accuse him of seeking power in the party, not the country, McDonnell spoke relentlessly of what the next Labour “government” would do. He promised a £250bn National Investment Bank, a “Right to Own” for employees, the repeal of the Trade Union Act and declared himself “interested” in the potential of a Universal Basic Income. It was a decidedly wonkish speech, free of the attack lines and jokes that others serve up.

One of the more striking passages was on McDonnell’s personal story (a recurring feature of Labour speeches since Sadiq Khan’s mayoral victory). “I was born in the city [Liverpool], not far from here,” he recalled. “My dad was a Liverpool docker and my mum was a cleaner who then served behind the counter at British Homes Stores for 30 years. I was part of the 1960's generation.  We lived in what sociological studies have described as some of the worst housing conditions that exist within this country. We just called it home.”

In his peroration, he declared: “In the birthplace of John Lennon, it falls to us to inspire people to imagine.” Most Labour MPs believe that a government led by Corbyn and McDonnell will remain just that: imaginary. “You may say I'm a dreamer. But I'm not the only one,” the shadow chancellor could have countered. With his praise for New Labour, he began the work of forging his party’s own brotherhood of man.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.