Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. The Lib Dems left me disillusioned. Labour has made me hopeful again (Guardian)

After leaving the Liberal Democrats I did not think I would join another party, says Richard Grayson. But in fact I couldn't not join Labour.

2. Summers’ end leaves Yellen out in front (Financial Times)

Frontrunner has done everyone a favour by withdrawing, writes Edward Luce.

3. Why is Ofsted lashing out against primary schools? (Guardian)

Swingeing reports by the inspection body are forcing primaries into academy status and tarnishing its independent reputation, writes John Harris.

4. Germany’s election is vital to Europe (Financial Times)

If the SPD and Greens won outright, they would move faster than Merkel on crisis management, writes Wolfgang Münchau.

5. What Nick Clegg can learn from François Mitterrand (Guardian)

The party faithful should not be dismayed by their leader's unpopularity, says Chris Huhne. History shows the Lib Dems will bounce back.

6. The decline and fall of Barack Obama (Times)

A presidency that began with such high expectations is confirming America’s decline as a world power, says Tim Montgomerie.

7. What Nick Clegg can learn from François Mitterrand (Guardian)

The party faithful should not be dismayed by their leader's unpopularity, says Chris Huhne. History shows the Lib Dems will bounce back.

8. There is something deeply cynical about this chemical weapons ‘timetable’ (Independent)

Even if it succeeds, Syrians will be left to kill each other as before - only without sarin, writes Robert Fisk.

9. Labour's plan to eject squatters won't fix Britain's broken housing system (Independent)

It is the causes - not the symptoms - of the housing crisis that Labour needs to crush, says Owen Jones.

10. Condescending Lord Clegg, the invincible loser of British politics (Daily Telegraph)

Luckily, there’s every chance the Lib Dems will be out of office after the next election, says Boris Johnson.

 

The ten must-read comment pieces from this morning's papers.
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Who will win in Manchester Gorton?

Will Labour lose in Manchester Gorton?

The death of Gerald Kaufman will trigger a by-election in his Manchester Gorton seat, which has been Labour-held since 1935.

Coming so soon after the disappointing results in Copeland – where the seat was lost to the Tories – and Stoke – where the party lost vote share – some overly excitable commentators are talking up the possibility of an upset in the Manchester seat.

But Gorton is very different to Stoke-on-Trent and to Copeland. The Labour lead is 56 points, compared to 16.5 points in Stoke-on-Trent and 6.5 points in Copeland. (As I’ve written before and will doubtless write again, it’s much more instructive to talk about vote share rather than vote numbers in British elections. Most of the country tends to vote in the same way even if they vote at different volumes.)

That 47 per cent of the seat's residents come from a non-white background and that the Labour party holds every council seat in the constituency only adds to the party's strong position here. 

But that doesn’t mean that there is no interest to be had in the contest at all. That the seat voted heavily to remain in the European Union – around 65 per cent according to Chris Hanretty’s estimates – will provide a glimmer of hope to the Liberal Democrats that they can finish a strong second, as they did consistently from 1992 to 2010, before slumping to fifth in 2015.

How they do in second place will inform how jittery Labour MPs with smaller majorities and a history of Liberal Democrat activity are about Labour’s embrace of Brexit.

They also have a narrow chance of becoming competitive should Labour’s selection turn acrimonious. The seat has been in special measures since 2004, which means the selection will be run by the party’s national executive committee, though several local candidates are tipped to run, with Afzal Khan,  a local MEP, and Julie Reid, a local councillor, both expected to run for the vacant seats.

It’s highly unlikely but if the selection occurs in a way that irritates the local party or provokes serious local in-fighting, you can just about see how the Liberal Democrats give everyone a surprise. But it’s about as likely as the United States men landing on Mars any time soon – plausible, but far-fetched. 

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