Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. If this stand-off deepens, Labour and the unions face disaster (Daily Telegraph)

Trade union leaders will have to accept that Ed Miliband is their best and only hope, writes Mary Riddell.

2. The US economy is built on sand (Financial Times)

Washington could do much to place the recovery on firmer foundations, says Robin Harding.

3. The west mustn’t be fooled by this mad plan (Times)

A deal to hand over his chemical weapons could leave Assad in power for years, says Roger Boyes.

4. Five years on, are we finally recovering from Lehmans? (Independent)

It was a grave mistake not to rescue the investment bank in 2008, says Hamish McRae. 

5. How to bring brains together – at top speed (Times)

When Manchester to Nottingham, say, is like a Tube ride away, we will gain huge economic advantages, writes Daniel Finkelstein.

6. We must stand up for the BBC (Guardian)

The corporation is truly a public good. Its ownership and governance should be put beyond doubt, writes Tessa Jowell.

7. Once the west set out to conquer the world. Those days have gone for ever (Independent)

A series of defeats have done for colonialism, and its more virulent form, imperialism, says Andreas Whittam Smith. 

8. Labour's links with the unions are its greatest asset (Guardian)

The TUC speaks for mainstream Britain, writes Seumas Milne. The sooner Miliband digs himself out of this hole, the better for his party.

9. Our IT future is now hi-tech, not high farce (Daily Telegraph)

The days of wasting billions of pounds on government computing are finally at an end, says Rohan Silva. 

In high-speed rail as in war, when Cameron and Osborne take refuge in the flag it is a safe bet they know they have lost, says Simon Jenkins. 

The ten must-read comment pieces from this morning's papers.
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The UK is dangerously close to breaking apart - there's one way to fix it

We must rethink our whole constitutional settlement. 

When the then-Labour leader John Smith set up a report on social justice for what would be the incoming government in 1997, he said we must stop wasting our most precious resource – "the extraordinary skills and talents of ordinary people".

It is one of our party’s greatest tragedies that he never had the chance to see that vision put into practice. 

At the time, it was clear that while our values of equality, solidarity and tolerance endured, the solutions we needed were not the same as those when Labour was last in power in the 1970s, and neither were they to be found in the policies of opposition from the 1980s. 

The Commission on Social Justice described a UK transformed by three revolutions:

  • an economic revolution brought about by increasing globalisation, innovation and a changing labour market
  • a social revolution that had seen the role of women in society transformed, the traditional family model change, inequality ingrained and relationships between people in our communities strained
  • a political revolution that challenged the centralisation of power, demanded more individual control and accepted a different role for government in society.

Two decades on, these three revolutions could equally be applied to the UK, and Scotland, today. 

Our economy, society and our politics have been transformed even further, but there is absolutely no consensus – no agreement – about the direction our country should take. 

What that has led to, in my view, is a society more dangerously divided than at any point in our recent history. 

The public reject the status quo but there is no settled will about the direction we should take. 

And instead of grappling with the complex messages that people are sending us, and trying to find the solutions in the shades of grey, politicians of all parties are attached to solutions that are black or white, dividing us further. 

Anyone in Labour, or any party, who claims that we can sit on the margins and wait for politics to “settle down” will rightly be consigned to history. 

The future shape of the UK, how we govern ourselves and how our economy and society should develop, is now the single biggest political question we face. 

Politics driven by nationalism and identity, which were for so long mostly confined to Scotland, have now taken their place firmly in the mainstream of all UK politics. 

Continuing to pull our country in these directions risks breaking the United Kingdom once and for all. 

I believe we need to reaffirm our belief in the UK for the 21st century. 

Over time, political power has become concentrated in too few hands. Power and wealth hoarded in one corner of our United Kingdom has not worked for the vast majority of people. 

That is why the time has come for the rest of the UK to follow where Scotland led in the 1980s and 1990s and establish a People’s Constitutional Convention to re-establish the UK for a new age. 

The convention should bring together groups to deliberate on the future of our country and propose a way forward that strengthens the UK and establishes a new political settlement for the whole of our country. 

After more than 300 years, it is time for a new Act of Union to safeguard our family of nations for generations to come.

This would mean a radical reshaping of our country along federal lines where every component part of the United Kingdom – Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the English regions – take more responsibility for what happens in their own communities, but where we still maintain the protection of being part of a greater whole as the UK. 

The United Kingdom provides the redistribution of wealth that defines our entire Labour movement, and it provides the protection for public finance in Scotland that comes from being part of something larger, something good, and something worth fighting for. 

Kezia Dugdale is the leader of the Scottish Labour party.