Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Why my father loved Britain (Daily Mail)

The Daily Mail sometimes claims it stands for the best of British values of decency, writes Ed Miliband. But something has really gone wrong when it attacks the family of a politician.

2. The Conservatives face a battle of ideas and are not sure how to win it (Independent)

Ed Miliband has laid down an ideological challenge, and voters seem pleased, writes Steve Richards.

3. How things could go right in Middle East (Financial Times)

A region given to crushing optimism might be showing its brighter side, says Gideon Rachman.

4. The incredible shrinking Tory party (Guardian)

The attendance figures for the Conservative party conference tell a tale of how David Cameron lost his core membership and let the bankers in, writes Aditya Chakrabortty.

5. Cameron is betting that Britain is still a country of grown-ups (Daily Telegraph)

The Prime Minister hopes that the public will realise that "vote Ukip, get Miliband" is no longer an idle threat, writes Benedict Brogan.

6. Tories must balance the tough with the tender (Times)

Vintage policies on welfare and immigration will not win unless there is action too on jobs and housing, writes Rachel Sylvester.

7. Who will vote for George Osborne's even nastier economic medicine now? (Guardian)

Forever dogged by his tax cut for the rich, the chancellor struggles to be believed when he says the country will recover together, says Polly Toynbee.

8. The Tories will get serious with populism (Financial Times)

The Conservatives will seek credibility as a riposte to UKIP and Labour, writes Janan Ganesh.

9. Merkel may rock the boat and turn Green (Financial Times)

The German leader has what it takes to break with the past, writes Stephan Richter.

10. A pact with angry old Ukip would be disastrous for the Conservative party (Guardian)

Europe is not a major issue for voters, writes Nick Herbert. We must focus on the things that matter most: the economy and living standards.

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Why relations between Theresa May and Philip Hammond became tense so quickly

The political imperative of controlling immigration is clashing with the economic imperative of maintaining growth. 

There is no relationship in government more important than that between the prime minister and the chancellor. When Theresa May entered No.10, she chose Philip Hammond, a dependable technocrat and long-standing ally who she had known since Oxford University. 

But relations between the pair have proved far tenser than anticipated. On Wednesday, Hammond suggested that students could be excluded from the net migration target. "We are having conversations within government about the most appropriate way to record and address net migration," he told the Treasury select committee. The Chancellor, in common with many others, has long regarded the inclusion of students as an obstacle to growth. 

The following day Hammond was publicly rebuked by No.10. "Our position on who is included in the figures has not changed, and we are categorically not reviewing whether or not students are included," a spokesman said (as I reported in advance, May believes that the public would see this move as "a fix"). 

This is not the only clash in May's first 100 days. Hammond was aggrieved by the Prime Minister's criticisms of loose monetary policy (which forced No.10 to state that it "respects the independence of the Bank of England") and is resisting tougher controls on foreign takeovers. The Chancellor has also struck a more sceptical tone on the UK's economic prospects. "It is clear to me that the British people did not vote on June 23 to become poorer," he declared in his conference speech, a signal that national prosperity must come before control of immigration. 

May and Hammond's relationship was never going to match the remarkable bond between David Cameron and George Osborne. But should relations worsen it risks becoming closer to that beween Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling. Like Hammond, Darling entered the Treasury as a calm technocrat and an ally of the PM. But the extraordinary circumstances of the financial crisis transformed him into a far more assertive figure.

In times of turmoil, there is an inevitable clash between political and economic priorities. As prime minister, Brown resisted talk of cuts for fear of the electoral consequences. But as chancellor, Darling was more concerned with the bottom line (backing a rise in VAT). By analogy, May is focused on the political imperative of controlling immigration, while Hammond is focused on the economic imperative of maintaining growth. If their relationship is to endure far tougher times they will soon need to find a middle way. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.