Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. The failure of this Islamist experiment poses a danger far beyond Egypt (Guardian)

Too many in the Muslim world will now conclude that democracy has no place for them - and be drawn to violence, writes Jonathan Freedland.

2. Scrap Tory associations, build a new party (Times)

Labour isn't the only one with local difficulties, writes Matthew Parris, grassroots Conservatives no longer represent modern Britain.

3. Unite in Falkirk - amateur and irresponsible (Guardian)

Eric Joyce, the outgoing Falkirk MP, is unimpressed by the selection process to find a successor.

4. Who will be there for you when you grow old (Times)

Janice Turner confronts the demographic and social catastrophe that will engulf the NHS.

5. Laptops and the case for high speed rail (Financial Times)

It's easier to grasp the costs than the benefits of HS2, writes Sarah O'Connor.

6. If we sell school places overseas, full blown privatisation won't be far off (Guardian)

Fiona Millar sees the ever deeper penetration of market forces as the logical extension of Michael Gove's agenda.

7. The flaws in selection are not Labour's alone (Daily Telegraph)

The Tory system kind of works. Primaries would be better, says Graeme Archer.

8. Tom Watson: my part in his downfall (Daily Telegraph)

Brisk yet thorough precis of an admired and feared Labour power-broker, by Dan Hodges.

9. Edward Snowden is a traitor just as surely as George Blake was (Daily Telegraph)

Charles Moore is unimpressed by justifications of the great CIA data-snoop leak.

10. A Conservative-Referendum party: The vindication of Sir James Goldsmith (Daily Mail)

Adrian Hilton is pleased as punch that the mood that destroyed John Major's government now sets the tone for the modern Conservative party.

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How the Lib Dems learned to love all-women shortlists

Yes, the sitting Lib Dem MPs are mostly white, middle-aged middle class men. But the party's not taking any chances. 

I can’t tell you who’ll be the Lib Dem candidate in Southport on 8 June, but I do know one thing about them. As they’re replacing a sitting Lib Dem (John Pugh is retiring) - they’ll be female.

The same is true in many of our top 20 target seats, including places like Lewes (Kelly-Marie Blundell), Yeovil (Daisy Benson), Thornbury and Yate (Clare Young), and Sutton and Cheam (Amna Ahmad). There was air punching in Lib Dem offices all over the country on Tuesday when it was announced Jo Swinson was standing again in East Dunbartonshire.

And while every current Lib Dem constituency MP will get showered with love and attention in the campaign, one will get rather more attention than most - it’s no coincidence that Tim Farron’s first stop of the campaign was in Richmond Park, standing side by side with Sarah Olney.

How so?

Because the party membership took a long look at itself after the 2015 election - and a rather longer look at the eight white, middle-aged middle class men (sorry chaps) who now formed the Parliamentary party and said - "we’ve really got to sort this out".

And so after decades of prevarication, we put a policy in place to deliberately increase the diversity of candidates.

Quietly, over the last two years, the Liberal Democrats have been putting candidates into place in key target constituencies . There were more than 300 in total before this week’s general election call, and many of them have been there for a year or more. And they’ve been selected under new procedures adopted at Lib Dem Spring Conference in 2016, designed to deliberately promote the diversity of candidates in winnable seats

This includes mandating all-women shortlists when selecting candidates who are replacing sitting MPs, similar rules in our strongest electoral regions. In our top 10 per cent of constituencies, there is a requirement that at least two candidates are shortlisted from underrepresented groups on every list. We became the first party to reserve spaces on the shortlists of winnable seats for underrepresented candidates including women, BAME, LGBT+ and disabled candidates

It’s not going to be perfect - the hugely welcome return of Lib Dem grandees like Vince Cable, Ed Davey and Julian Huppert to their old stomping grounds will strengthen the party but not our gender imbalance. But excluding those former MPs coming back to the fray, every top 20 target constituency bar one has to date selected a female candidate.

Equality (together with liberty and community) is one of the three key values framed in the preamble to the Lib Dem constitution. It’s a relief that after this election, the Liberal Democratic party in the Commons will reflect that aspiration rather better than it has done in the past.

Richard Morris blogs at A View From Ham Common, which was named Best New Blog at the 2011 Lib Dem Conference

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