Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. When Nelson Mandela goes, the global village will lose its elder (Guardian)

The former South African president is the ultimate example of moral authority, the most precious commodity in politics, writes Jonathan Freedland.

2. Australian blokes have done their country down (Daily Telegraph)

Julia Gillard has been driven out as Australia's prime minister by a brutal and unfair misogynist culture, says John McTernan.

3. The State’s been cut but Britain hasn’t bled (Times)

Forget scissors and axes, says Matthew Parris. There’s so much public sector fat George Osborne just needs a liposuction machine.

4. Labour pays price of George Osborne’s failure to cut deficit (Independent)

The continuing age of austerity means Labour will be playing away in 2015, writes Andrew Grice.

5. Croatia, a nation lost in translation (Guardian)

Despite the fact that our country joins the European Union on Monday, we don't seem in the mood to celebrate, writes Slavenka Drakulic.

6. Our leaders are busy polishing their CVs (Daily Telegraph)

Mervyn King avoided the selfishness that afflicts too many of our modern politicians, says Charles Moore.

7. This dash for shale gas should be Plan Z, not Plan A (Independent)

The government say that a technological revolution based on government getting out of the way of progress is what we need, writes Tony Juniper. They couldn’t be more wrong.

8. Who Governs Labour? (Times)

Labour is too dominated by influences in Unite, argues a Times editorial. Ed Miliband needs to assert his authority.

9. From Leveson to Iraq, our leaders are obsessed with inquiries (Daily Mail)

Instead of embracing responsibility, modern ministers recoil in horror at decision-making, writes Dominic Sandbrook.
 

The spending review foretells a smaller and far more humble government, writes Janan Ganesh.

 

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Douglas Carswell leaves Ukip to become independent MP

The Clacton MP quits his party but insists he will not rejoin the Conservatives or trigger a by-election. 

Douglas Carswell has long been a Ukip MP in name only. Now he isn't even that. Ukip's sole MP, who defected from the Conservatives in 2014, has announced that he is leaving the party.

Carswell's announcement comes as no great surprise. He has long endured a comically antagonistic relationship with Nigel Farage, who last month demanded his expulsion for the sin of failing to aid his knighthood bid. The Clacton MP's ambition to transform Ukip into a libertarian force, rather than a reactionary one, predictably failed. With the party now often polling in single figures, below the Liberal Democrats, the MP has left a sinking ship (taking £217,000 of opposition funding or "short money" with him). As Carswell acknowledges in his statement, Brexit has deprieved Ukip of its raison d'être.

He writes: "Ukip might not have managed to win many seats in Parliament, but in a way we are the most successful political party in Britain ever. We have achieved what we were established to do – and in doing so we have changed the course of our country's history for the better. Make no mistake; we would not be leaving the EU if it was not for Ukip – and for those remarkable people who founded, supported and sustained our party over that period.

"Our party has prevailed thanks to the heroic efforts of Ukip party members and supporters. You ensured we got a referendum. With your street stalls and leafleting, you helped Vote Leave win the referendum. You should all be given medals for what you helped make happen – and face the future with optimism.

"Like many of you, I switched to Ukip because I desperately wanted us to leave the EU. Now we can be certain that that is going to happen, I have decided that I will be leaving Ukip."

Though Ukip could yet recover if Theresa May disappoints anti-immigration voters, that's not a path that the pro-migration Carswell would wish to pursue. He insists that he has no intention of returning to the Conservatives (and will not trigger a new by-election). "I will simply be the Member of Parliament for Clacton, sitting as an independent."

Carswell's erstwhile Conservative colleagues will no doubt delight in reminding him that he was warned.  

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.