Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Britain is betraying its values in its response to the Egyptian coup (Daily Telegraph)

William Hague can't tell the truth about Morsi's departure for fear of upsetting the US, writes Peter Oborne.

2. Voters are disdainful of politics and will not pay for state funding of parties (Independent)

Last week it was Ed at bay in PMQs, now it’s Cameron, writes Steve Richards. Both leaders are vulnerable over party funding.

3. Miliband is emerging as the true heir to Blair (Daily Telegraph)

By moving to loosen Labour's links to the unions, the leader is gambling everything, says John McTernan.

4. Why women part-timers should be full-time ball-breakers (Guardian)

Sexism probably explains the low status of working mothers, writes Zoe Williams. But it's also their reluctance to assert what a blessing their hours are.

5. Political Islam faces its sternest test (Financial Times)

There is no evidence that Arabs believe Wahhabism is the future, says David Gardner.

6. Wisdom or piffle, we've a right to see what 'Disgusted of Highgrove' writes to ministers (Daily Mail)

The public has an interest in knowing how, and where, Prince Charles has tried to exercise influence, says Stephen Glover.

7. There’s no cure to the health spending paradox (Times)

At the same time as it gets cheaper to do IVF or cataracts, our constant innovations will inevitably push up budgets, writes Matt Ridley.

8. Can Ed Miliband give England a political voice at last? (Guardian)

The English identity is much more complex and progressive than the saloon-bar Farageism it is too often depicted as, writes Martin Kettle.

9. I want to be greener. But does the government? (Independent)

When it came into office in 2010, the "greenest government ever" promised to boost the use of low and zero emission vehicles, writes Jane Merrick. But take up is a painfully slow crawl.

10. Welcome to the geopolitics of trade, where Dr Pangloss meets Machiavelli (Guardian)

For the sake of Britain's own unemployed, we need a new transatlantic trade deal, writes Timothy Garton Ash. But not so we can also gang up on China.

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The Lib Dems' troubled start doesn't bode well for them

Rows over homosexuality and anti-Semitism are obscuring the party's anti-Brexit stance.

Tim Farron has broken his silence on the question of whether or not gay sex is a sin. (He doesn't.)

Frankly, this isn't the start to the general election campaign that the Liberal Democrats would have wanted. Time that they hoped would be spent talking about how their man was the only one standing up to Brexit has instead been devoted to what Farron thinks about homosexuality.

Now another row may be opening up, this time about anti-Semitism in the Liberal Democrats after David Ward, the controversial former MP who among other things once wrote that "the Jews" were "within a few years of liberation from the death camps...inflicting atrocities on Palestinians" has been re-selected as their candidate in Bradford East. That action, for many, makes a mockery of Farron's promise that his party would be a "warm home" for the community.

Politically, my hunch is that people will largely vote for the Liberal Democrats at this election because of who they're not: a Conservative party that has moved to the right on social issues and is gleefully implementing Brexit, a riven Labour party led by Jeremy Corbyn, etc. But both rows have hobbled Farron's dream that his party would use this election.

More importantly, they've revealed something about the Liberal Democrats and their ability to cope under fire. There's a fierce debate ongoing about whether or not what Farron's beliefs should matter at all. However you come down on that subject, it's been well-known within the Liberal Democrats that there were questions around not only Farron's beliefs but his habit of going missing for votes concerning homosexuality and abortion. It was even an issue, albeit one not covered overmuch by the press, in the 2015 Liberal Democrat leadership election. The leadership really ought to have worked out a line that would hold long ago, just as David Cameron did in opposition over drugs. (Readers with long memories will remember that Cameron had a much more liberal outlook on drugs policy as an MP than he did after he became Conservative leader.)

It's still my expectation that the Liberal Democrats will have a very good set of local elections. At that point, expect the full force of the Conservative machine and their allies in the press to turn its fire on Farron and his party. We've had an early stress test of the Liberal Democrats' strength under fire. It doesn't bode well for what's to come.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.

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