Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Osborne has been disproved on austerity (Financial Times)

Nobody thought a recovery would never happen – merely that it would be delayed, says Martin Wolf.

2. Ed Miliband is no more 'red' than the Tony Blair that won the 1997 general election (Independent)

The Labour leader’s temporary freeze on energy bills is a fair and moderate step, says Andrew Adonis.

3. The scale of Ed’s ambition is both breathtaking and terrifying (Daily Telegraph)

The Labour leader’s socialist ideas on energy prices and housing shortages are radical, coherent and – worst of all – popular, says Fraser Nelson. 

4. David Cameron's least favourite question: whose side are you on? (Guardian)

There is no vacancy in the fabled centre ground, writes Polly Toynbee. Labour occupies it, and voters may no longer be fooled by red scaremongering.

5. Good news – foreigners are buying up Britain (Daily Telegraph)

The present phase of globalisation is painful for the west, but we should see it through, writes Jeremy Warner.

6. Ed can win from here. But he can’t govern (Times)

At last Miliband has defined what he stands for — it is not challenging his party’s comfort zone, says Philip Collins.

7. Only talks can reset Iran’s atomic clock (Financial Times)

The US must take risks or accept a stand-off, with Iran trundling further towards the bomb, writes Philip Stephens.

8. Beyond Europe (Times)

Senior Tories need to talk more about bread and butter issues like housing and pay, says a Times editorial.

9. 'Mental patient' fancy dress shows how deep offensive stereotypes go in society (Guardian)

Tesco and Asda have done the decent thing, says Alastair Campbell. But we must work to end the stigma about mental health in work, communities, friends – even the NHS.

Where are the  Islamic voices raised in protest at the abuse of the system, asks Peter Popham. 

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Theresa May is paying the price for mismanaging Boris Johnson

The Foreign Secretary's bruised ego may end up destroying Theresa May. 

And to think that Theresa May scheduled her big speech for this Friday to make sure that Conservative party conference wouldn’t be dominated by the matter of Brexit. Now, thanks to Boris Johnson, it won’t just be her conference, but Labour’s, which is overshadowed by Brexit in general and Tory in-fighting in particular. (One imagines that the Labour leadership will find a way to cope somehow.)

May is paying the price for mismanaging Johnson during her period of political hegemony after she became leader. After he was betrayed by Michael Gove and lacking any particular faction in the parliamentary party, she brought him back from the brink of political death by making him Foreign Secretary, but also used her strength and his weakness to shrink his empire.

The Foreign Office had its responsibility for negotiating Brexit hived off to the newly-created Department for Exiting the European Union (Dexeu) and for navigating post-Brexit trade deals to the Department of International Trade. Johnson was given control of one of the great offices of state, but with no responsibility at all for the greatest foreign policy challenge since the Second World War.

Adding to his discomfort, the new Foreign Secretary was regularly the subject of jokes from the Prime Minister and cabinet colleagues. May likened him to a dog that had to be put down. Philip Hammond quipped about him during his joke-fuelled 2017 Budget. All of which gave Johnson’s allies the impression that Johnson-hunting was a licensed sport as far as Downing Street was concerned. He was then shut out of the election campaign and has continued to be a marginalised figure even as the disappointing election result forced May to involve the wider cabinet in policymaking.

His sense of exclusion from the discussions around May’s Florence speech only added to his sense of isolation. May forgot that if you aren’t going to kill, don’t wound: now, thanks to her lost majority, she can’t afford to put any of the Brexiteers out in the cold, and Johnson is once again where he wants to be: centre-stage. 

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