Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Slandering Britain's Roma isn't courageous. It's racist (Guardian)

The arrival of marginalised people is challenging not because of who they are, but because they are poor, writes Gary Younge.

2. The Obama presidency is failing (Financial Times)

With the exception of the debt ceiling debacle, he has fallen at almost every hurdle, says Edward Luce.

3. At last, a Plan B to stop global warming (Times)

Existing renewable energy hurts economies, writes Bjorn Lomborg. We should follow Japan and find cheaper forms of clean power.

4. 2014 is not 1914, but Europe is getting increasingly angry and nationalist (Guardian)

While Germany focuses on forging a government, populist anti-EU parties look set to do well at next year's elections, writes Timothy Garton Ash.

5. The real poison is to be found in Arafat's legacy (Independent)

He placed vain trust in Israel and the US - mistakes that his people are still paying for, writes Robert Fisk. 

6. The squeezed middle class also deserves a tax cut (Times)

Britain can’t win the global race if taxes remain such a burden, says Dominic Raab. 

7. Tory toff David Cameron's hollow talk of aspiration is falling flat in middle-income homes (Daily Mirror)

Call-me-Dave’s unclassy to urge people to dream as he entrenches division, says Kevin Maguire. 

8. We should be humbly thanking the super-rich, not bashing them (Daily Telegraph)

As well as creating jobs and giving to charity, the wealthy should be hailed as Tax Heroes, says Boris Johnson. 

9. Typhoon Haiyan must spur us on to slow climate change (Guardian)

The damage caused by extreme weather events bring home the need to curb carbon emissions and combat global warming, says Chris Huhne. 

10. Sykes and Ukip could put Labour into No 10 (Daily Telegraph)

Cameron should be wary of Ukip, says a Telegraph editorial. The 2015 election could be decided not by a clash with Labour but a feud within the right.

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The Fire Brigades Union reaffiliates to Labour - what does it mean?

Any union rejoining Labour will be welcomed by most in the party - but the impact on the party's internal politics will be smaller than you think.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has voted to reaffiliate to the Labour party, in what is seen as a boost to Jeremy Corbyn. What does it mean for Labour’s internal politics?

Firstly, technically, the FBU has never affliated before as they are notionally part of the civil service - however, following the firefighters' strike in 2004, they decisively broke with Labour.

The main impact will be felt on the floor of Labour party conference. Although the FBU’s membership – at around 38,000 – is too small to have a material effect on the outcome of votes themselves, it will change the tenor of the motions put before party conference.

The FBU’s leadership is not only to the left of most unions in the Trades Union Congress (TUC), it is more inclined to bring motions relating to foreign affairs than other unions with similar politics (it is more internationalist in focus than, say, the PCS, another union that may affiliate due to Corbyn’s leadership). Motions on Israel/Palestine, the nuclear deterrent, and other issues, will find more support from FBU delegates than it has from other affiliated trade unions.

In terms of the balance of power between the affiliated unions themselves, the FBU’s re-entry into Labour politics is unlikely to be much of a gamechanger. Trade union positions, elected by trade union delegates at conference, are unlikely to be moved leftwards by the reaffiliation of the FBU. Unite, the GMB, Unison and Usdaw are all large enough to all-but-guarantee themselves a seat around the NEC. Community, a small centrist union, has already lost its place on the NEC in favour of the bakers’ union, which is more aligned to Tom Watson than Jeremy Corbyn.

Matt Wrack, the FBU’s General Secretary, will be a genuine ally to Corbyn and John McDonnell. Len McCluskey and Dave Prentis were both bounced into endorsing Corbyn by their executives and did so less than wholeheartedly. Tim Roache, the newly-elected General Secretary of the GMB, has publicly supported Corbyn but is seen as a more moderate voice at the TUC. Only Dave Ward of the Communication Workers’ Union, who lent staff and resources to both Corbyn’s campaign team and to the parliamentary staff of Corbyn and McDonnell, is truly on side.

The impact of reaffiliation may be felt more keenly in local parties. The FBU’s membership looks small in real terms compared Unite and Unison have memberships of over a million, while the GMB and Usdaw are around the half-a-million mark, but is much more impressive when you consider that there are just 48,000 firefighters in Britain. This may make them more likely to participate in internal elections than other affiliated trade unionists, just 60,000 of whom voted in the Labour leadership election in 2015. However, it is worth noting that it is statistically unlikely most firefighters are Corbynites - those that are will mostly have already joined themselves. The affiliation, while a morale boost for many in the Labour party, is unlikely to prove as significant to the direction of the party as the outcome of Unison’s general secretary election or the struggle for power at the top of Unite in 2018. 

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.