Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Are the two Eds Attlee and Cripps – or Tory clones? (Daily Telegraph)

Miliband and Balls have sown confusion among Conservative opponents with their new economic approach, writes Mary Riddell.

2. Careless talk may cost the economy (Financial Times)

If the Fed had been more prudent, premature tightening might have been avoided, writes Martin Wolf.

3. Osborne must stick to his Scalextric model (Times

Any politician can talk big, but successful ministers don’t always speed to the finish line, writes Daniel Finkelstein. They plot a steady course.

4. Don't expect James Bond to act like Mother Teresa (Guardian)

Handing our personal data to the US Prism project is exactly how you'd expect our spies to behave, writes David Davis. That's why they need strict legal controls.

5. Egyptians must not let their country descend into chaos (Guardian)

President Morsi has made mistakes – but Egypt's opposition, by aligning with former regime members, is sidelining democracy, says Wadah Khanfar.

6. The old deserve every penny of their pensions (Times

Let’s avoid a battle of the generations, says Alice Thomson. Britain’s oldest citizens led much harder lives than today’s young.

7. Politicians who demand inquiries should be taken out and shot (Guardian)

From Stephen Lawrence to Bloody Sunday, an inquiry serves as the establishment's get out of jail free card, writes Simon Jenkins. 

8. The rest of us work when needed. Why can't the bolshy doctors' union grasp that? (Daily Mail)

For two decades, doctors have provided ever less effective out-of-hours cover, says Max Hastings. 

9. QE was fun while it lasted. Now it’s time for the cuts (Independent)

It's time to set out on the road back to monetary sustainability - and it's not going to be easy, says Hamish McRae.

10. Nice Sir Mervyn King still allowed the ship to crash (Daily Telegraph)

Despite the plaudits, the Governor of the Bank of England's economic theories were hopelessly misguided, says Iain Martin.
 
Getty
Show Hide image

Metro mayors can help Labour return to government

Labour champions in the new city regions can help their party at the national level too.

2017 will mark the inaugural elections of directly-elected metro mayors across England. In all cases, these mayor and cabinet combined authorities are situated in Labour heartlands, and as such Labour should look confidently at winning the whole slate.

Beyond the good press winning again will generate, these offices provide an avenue for Labour to showcase good governance, and imperatively, provide vocal opposition to the constraints of local government by Tory cuts.

The introduction of the Mayor of London in 2000 has provided a blueprint for how the media can provide a platform for media-friendly leadership. It has also demonstrated the ease that the office allows for attribution of successes to that individual and party – or misappropriated in context of Boris Bikes and to a lesser extent the London Olympics.

While without the same extent of the powers of the sui generis mayor of the capital, the prospect of additional metro-mayors provide an opportunity for replicating these successes while providing experience for Labour big-hitters to develop themselves in government. This opportunity hasn’t gone unnoticed, and after Sadiq Khan’s victory in London has shown that the role can grow beyond the limitations – perceived or otherwise - of the Corbyn shadow cabinet while strengthening team Labour’s credibility by actually being in power.

Shadow Health Secretary and former leadership candidate Andy Burnham’s announcement last week for Greater Manchester was the first big hitter to make his intention known. The rising star of Luciana Berger, another member of Labour’s health team, is known to be considering a run in the Liverpool City Region. Could we also see them joined by the juggernaut of Liam Byrne in the West Midlands, or next-generation Catherine McKinnell in the North East?

If we can get a pantheon of champions elected across these city regions, to what extent can this have an influence on national elections? These new metro areas represent around 11.5 million people, rising to over 20 million if you include Sadiq’s Greater London. While no doubt that is an impressive audience that our Labour pantheon are able to demonstrate leadership to, there are limitations. 80 of the 94 existing Westminster seats who are covered under the jurisdiction of the new metro-mayors are already Labour seats. While imperative to solidify our current base for any potential further electoral decline, in order to maximise the impact that this team can have on Labour’s resurgence there needs to be visibility beyond residents.

The impact of business is one example where such influence can be extended. Andy Burnham for example has outlined his case to make Greater Manchester the creative capital of the UK. According to the ONS about 150,000 people commute into Greater Manchester, which is two constituency’s worth of people that can be directly influenced by the Mayor of Greater Manchester.

Despite these calculations and similar ones that can be made in other city-regions, the real opportunity with selecting the right Labour candidates is the media impact these champion mayors can make on the national debate. This projects the influence from the relatively-safe Labour regions across the country. This is particularly important to press the blame of any tightening of belts in local fiscal policy on the national Tory government’s cuts. We need individuals who have characteristics of cabinet-level experience, inspiring leadership, high profile campaigning experience and tough talking opposition credentials to support the national party leadership put the Tory’s on the narrative back foot.

That is not to say there are not fine local council leaders and technocrats who’s experience and governance experience at vital to Labour producing local successes. But the media don’t really care who number two is, and these individuals are best serving the national agenda for the party if they support A-listers who can shine a bright spotlight on our successes and Tory mismanagement.

If Jeremy Corbyn and the party are able to topple the Conservatives come next election, then all the better that we have a diverse team playing their part both on the front bench and in the pantheon of metro-mayors. If despite our best efforts Jeremy’s leadership falls short, then we will have experienced leaders in waiting who have been able to afford some distance from the front-bench, untainted and able to take the party’s plan B forward.