Morning Call: pick of the paper

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

1. Beijing's Play for Porn (IHT)

When it comes to pornography, the Chinese government is guilty of naked hypocrisy, writes Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore.

2. I've got a crush on the archbishope of Canterbury (Guardian)

Marina Hyde: It's not going to make me a believer or anything, but bravo to Justin Welby for taking a stand on Wonga and co.

3. Nate Silver, data guru returns to sport (FT) (£)

The political forecaster shows the new power of one-man brands, says Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson.

4. HS2, fracking and planning have given rise to mutiny in Middle England (Telegraph)

The demonstrations in Balcombe over drilling for oil and gas reserves are just the beginning, write Geoffrey Lean.

5. The cult of home ownership is dangerous and damaging (FT) (£)

The US and UK should ditch their obsessions with residential property, writes Adam Posen.

6. George Osborne's description of the economy is near-Orwellian (Guardian)

The fact that even Labour accepts the UK is 'on the mend' shows how low our expectations of economic performance are, reckons Ha-Joon Chang.

7. I was a self-hating child, so if it’s a choice between babies and my 100-year-old mother-in-law... (Independent)

The old make for far more stimulating company than the young, argues Howard Jacobson.

8. Holy Moolah. The Church really does save (Times) (£)

Archbishop Welby’s crusade against payday lenders is a very Christian solution to a problem afflicting the poor, says Janice Turner.

9. The hidden cost of paying for GP appointments (Independent)

Attempts to monetise the NHS have wilted in the past. It won't work here, says Jeremy Laurance.

10. We celebrate the Royal family because it symbolises our liberty (Telegraph)

The monarchy may reign over us, but it too is subject to the rule of ancient law, says Daniel Hannan.

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You may call me a monster – but I'm glad that girl's lemonade stall got shut down

What's wrong with hard-working public servants enforcing perfectly sensible regulations?

Who could fail to be moved by the widely shared tears of a five year old whose innocent lemonade stall was brutally shut down by evil bureaucrats? What sort of monster would not have their heartstrings tugged by the plaintive “I've done a bad thing” from a girl whose father tells us she “just wanted to put a smile on people's faces”?

Well me, actually.

There are half a million cases of food poisoning each year in the UK, and one of the reasons we have stringent controls on who can sell food and drink, especially in unsealed containers, is to try to cut those figures down. And street stalls in general are regulated because we have a system of taxation, rights and responsibilities in this country which underpins our functioning society. Regulation is a social and economic good.

It’s also pretty unfair to criticise the hard-working public servants who acted in this case for doing the job they are no doubt underpaid to do. For the council to say “we expect our enforcement officers to show common sense” as they cancelled the fine is all very well, but I’m willing to bet they are given precious little leeway in their training when it comes to who gets fined and who doesn’t. If the council is handing out apologies, it likely should be issuing one to its officers as well.

“But these are decent folk being persecuted by a nanny state,” I hear you cry. And I stand impervious, I’m afraid. Because I’ve heard that line a lot recently and it’s beginning to grate.

It’s the same argument used against speed cameras and parking fines. How often have you heard those caught out proclaim themselves as “law-abiding citizens” and bemoan the infringement of their freedom? I have news for you: if you break the speed limit, or park illegally, or indeed break health and safety or trading regulations, you are not a law-abiding citizen. You’re actually the one who’s in the wrong.

And rarely is ignorance an excuse. Speed limits and parking regulations are posted clearly. In the case of the now famous lemonade stand, the father in question is even quoted as saying “I thought that they would just tell us to pack up and go home.” So he knew he was breaking the rules. He just didn’t think the consequences should apply to him.

A culture of entitlement, and a belief that rules are for other people but not us, is a disease gripping middle Britain. It is demonstrated in many different ways, from the driver telling the cyclist that she has no right to be on the road because she doesn’t pay road tax (I know), to the father holding up his daughter’s tears to get out of a fine.

I know, I’m a monster. But hooray for the enforcers, I say.

Duncan Hothersall is the editor of Labour Hame