Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Nick Clegg has served his party well and deserves to survive (Daily Telegraph)

The Lib Dems embody two contradictory factions, one of which may turn on its leader, says Peter Oborne.

2. This crisis resolves little in Syria but says a lot about the United States (Guardian)

The nation is sick and tired of foreign wars, and may never play its role of global anchor again, writes Timothy Garton Ash. We may live to regret it.

3. Take note, Ed Miliband: Starting a fight doesn’t make you strong (Independent)

I cannot understand how inciting fury is in itself an act of good leadership, says Steve Richards.

4. Politicians to blame for BBC infighting (Financial Times)

The UK’s public broadcaster has to be bold or it is pointless, says John Gapper.

5. Let's open our borders to Syria's refugees (Independent)

Britain is one of the world’s wealthiest nations, we should set an example, says Ian Birrell. 

6. Bedroom tax? It's not a policy but the product of a Bad Bullingdon Weekend (Guardian)

Did its devisers imagine a utopia without the UN, judicial review, and the state, asks Zoe Williams. They exist, and ultimately answer to voters.

7. We can’t stop the world, we can’t get off (Times)

Anti-intervention, anti-immigration, anti-aid, writes David Aaronovitch. It’s a fantasy to think we can turn our backs on the planet.

8. The great Liberal Democrat wipeout? I have a hunch it won't happen (Guardian)

Clegg's party may have to fight the equivalent of 57 Eastleighs in 2015 – but they are confident that they can defy the polls, writes Martin Kettle.

The new PM should aim for a smarter state, not radical reform, says an FT editorial.

10. Is the Foreign Office fighting for Britain? (Times)

An open letter to William Hague: your department’s EU review is a whitewash, says John Redwood.

The ten must-read comment pieces from this morning's papers.
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Amber Rudd's ignorance isn't just a problem for the laws she writes

Politicians' lack of understanding leads to the wrong laws - and leaves real problems unchecked. 

Amber Rudd’s interview with Andrew Marr yesterday is not going to feature in her highlights reel, that is for certain. Her headline-grabbing howler was her suggesting was that to fight terror “the best people…who understand the necessary hashtags” would stop extremist material “ever being put up, not just taken down”, but the entire performance was riddled with poorly-briefed errors.

During one particularly mystifying exchange, Rudd claimed that she wasn’t asking for permission to “go into the Cloud”, when she is, in fact, asking for permission to go into the Cloud.

That lack of understanding makes itself felt in the misguided attempt to force tech companies to install a backdoor in encrypted communications. I outline some of the problems with that approach here, and Paul Goodman puts it well over at ConservativeHome, the problem with creating a backdoor is that “the security services would indeed be able to travel down it.  So, however, might others – the agencies serving the Chinese and Russian governments, for example, not to mention non-state hackers and criminals”.

But it’s not just in what the government does that makes ministers’ lack of understanding of tech issues a problem. As I’ve written before, there is a problem where hate speech is allowed to flourish freely on new media platforms. After-the-fact enforcement means that jihadist terrorism and white supremacist content can attract a large audience on YouTube and Facebook before it is taken down, while Twitter is notoriously sluggish about removing abuse and hosts a large number of extremists on its site. At time of writing, David Duke, the former head of the Ku Klux Klan, has free use of YouTube to post videos with titles such as “CNN interview on Bannon exposes Jewish bias”, “Will the white race survive?” and “Stop the genocide of European mankind”. It’s somewhat odd, to put it mildly, that WhatsApp is facing more heat for a service that is enjoyed by and protects millions of honest consumers while new media is allowed to be intensely relaxed about hosting hate speech.

Outside of the field of anti-terror, technological illiteracy means that old-fashioned exploitation becomes innovative “disruption” provided it is facilitated by an app. Government and opposition politicians simultaneously decry old businesses’ use of zero-hours contracts and abuse of self-employment status to secure the benefits of a full-time employee without having to bear the costs, while hailing and facilitating the same behaviour provided the company in question was founded after 2007.

As funny as Rudd’s ill-briefed turn on the BBC was, the consequences are anything but funny. 

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