Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. We can’t afford to ignore climate change (Financial Times)

As the Philippines recovers, fossil-fuel lobbies focus on the short term, writes Jeffrey Sachs.

2. Why even atheists should be praying for Pope Francis (Guardian)

Francis could replace Obama as the pin-up on every liberal and leftist wall, says Jonathan Freedland. He is now the world's clearest voice for change.

3. Steady at the helm there, Mr Cameron (Times)

If the PM is feeling the pressure from the Tory right, he needs to quell the ranks and steer the ship, writes Matthew Parris.

4. If Labour want to start apologising, it shouldn't be over economic migration (Guardian)

Jack Straw's admission of guilt over deciding to allow economic migration in 2004 is disingenuous, and sidesteps the real mistakes they made, says Deborah Orr.

5. A glasnost moment? Unlikely. The Chinese remember what happened to the Soviets (Independent)

Shining through the new document is Mr Xi’s determination to retain and bolster the Communist Party’s hold on power, writes Peter Popham.

6. The coalition is steadily coming undone (Independent)

Ed Miliband's pledge last month to freeze energy prices has not only dominated headlines, it has driven a wedge between the Tories and the Lib Dems, says Andrew Grice.

7. Is the economic recovery built to last? (Times)

Instead of a Germanic economy built on manufacturing, our recovery risks resembling Spain’s property boom, says Stephen King.

8. The lessons gone unlearnt at Westminster (Daily Telegraph)

The fallibility of MPs Nadine Dorries and Nadhim Zahawi is regrettably familiar, writes Vicki Woods.

9. A bet against London is no sure thing (Financial Times)

There is far more to the British capital than hot money and hot air, writes Tim Harford.

10. Why does a brush with death make people turn to religion? (Daily Telegraph)

Sir John Tavener’s final broadcast brought home with force the truths of faith, argues Charles Moore.

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Jeremy Corbyn's Labour conference speech shows how he's grown

The leader's confident address will have impressed even his fiercest foes. 

It is not just Jeremy Corbyn’s mandate that has been improved by his re-election. The Labour leader’s conference speech was, by some distance, the best he has delivered. He spoke with far greater confidence, clarity and energy than previously. From its self-deprecating opening onwards ("Virgin Trains assure me there are 800 empty seats") we saw a leader improved in almost every respect. 

Even Corbyn’s firecest foes will have found less to take issue with than they may have anticipated. He avoided picking a fight on Trident (unlike last year), delivered his most forceful condemnation of anti-Semitism (“an evil”) and, with the exception of the Iraq war, avoided attacks on New Labour’s record. The video which preceded his arrival, and highlighted achievements from the Blair-Brown years, was another olive branch. But deselection, which Corbyn again refused to denounce, will remain a running sore (MPs alleged that Hillsborough campaigner Sheila Coleman, who introduced Corbyn, is seeking to deselect Louise Ellman and backed the rival TUSC last May).

Corbyn is frequently charged with lacking policies. But his lengthy address contained several new ones: the removal of the cap on council borrowing (allowing an extra 60,000 houses to be built), a ban on arms sales to abusive regimes and an arts pupil premium in every primary school.

On policy, Corbyn frequently resembles Ed Miliband in his more radical moments, unrestrained by Ed Balls and other shadow cabinet members. He promised £500bn of infrastructure investment (spread over a decade with £150bn from the private sector), “a real living wage”, the renationalisation of the railways, rent controls and a ban on zero-hours contracts.

Labour’s greatest divisions are not over policy but rules, strategy and culture. Corbyn’s opponents will charge him with doing far too little to appeal to the unconverted - Conservative voters most of all. But he spoke with greater conviction than before of preparing for a general election (acknowledging that Labour faced an arithmetical “mountain”) and successfully delivered the attack lines he has often shunned.

“Even Theresa May gets it, that people want change,” he said. “That’s why she stood on the steps of Downing Street and talked about the inequalities and burning injustices in today’s Britain. She promised a country: ‘that works not for a privileged few but for every one of us’. But even if she manages to talk the talk, she can’t walk the walk. This isn’t a new government, it’s David Cameron’s government repackaged with progressive slogans but with a new harsh right-wing edge, taking the country backwards and dithering before the historic challenges of Brexit.”

After a second landslide victory, Corbyn is, for now, unassailable. Many MPs, having voted no confidence in him, will never serve on the frontbench. But an increasing number, recognising Corbyn’s immovability, speak once again of seeking to “make it work”. For all the ructions of this summer, Corbyn’s speech will have helped to persuade them that they can.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.