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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Jeremy Corbyn challenged by Labour MPs to sack Ken Livingstone from defence review

Former mayor of London criticised at PLP meeting over comments on 7 July bombings. 

After Jeremy Corbyn's decision to give Labour MPs a free vote over air strikes in Syria, tonight's Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) meeting was less fractious than it could have been. But one grandee was still moved to declare that the "ferocity" of the attacks on the leader made it the most "uplifting" he had attended.

Margaret Beckett, the former foreign secretary, told the meeting: "We cannot unite the party if the leader's office is determined to divide us." Several MPs said afterwards that many of those who shared Corbyn's opposition to air strikes believed he had mishandled the process by appealing to MPs over the heads of the shadow cabinet and then to members. David Winnick declared that those who favoured military action faced a "shakedown" and deselection by Momentum activists. "It is completely unacceptable. They are a party within a party," he said of the Corbyn-aligned group. The "huge applause" for Hilary Benn, who favours intervention, far outweighed that for the leader, I'm told. 

There was also loud agreement when Jack Dromey condemned Ken Livingstone for blaming Tony Blair's invasion of Iraq for the 7 July 2005 bombings. Along with Angela Smith MP, Dromey demanded that Livingstone be sacked as the co-chair of Labour's defence review. Significantly, Benn said aftewards that he agreed with every word Dromey had said. Corbyn's office has previously said that it is up to the NEC, not the leader, whether the former London mayor holds the position. In reference to 7 July, an aide repeated Corbyn's statement that he preferred to "remember the brilliant words Ken used after 7/7". 

As on previous occasions, MPs complained that the leader failed to answer the questions that were put to him. A shadow minister told me that he "dodged" one on whether he believed the UK should end air strikes against Isis in Iraq. In reference to Syria, a Corbyn aide said afterwards that "There was significant support for the leader. There was a wide debate, with people speaking on both sides of the arguments." After David Cameron's decision to call a vote on air strikes for Wednesday, leaving only a day for debate, the number of Labour MPs backing intervention is likely to fall. One shadow minister told me that as few as 40-50 may back the government, though most expect the total to be closer to the original figure of 99. 

At the end of another remarkable day in Labour's history, a Corbyn aide concluded: "It was always going to be a bumpy ride when you have a leader who was elected by a large number outside parliament but whose support in the PLP is quite limited. There are a small number who find it hard to come to terms with that result."

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.