Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. On one thing about the NHS, Jeremy Hunt is right (Guardian)

The health secretary isn't meddling, says Steve Richards. He must be accountable to the taxpayers who fund the NHS.

2. It is high time we raised interest rates and returned to normality (Daily Telegraph)

Persisting with this monetary stimulus will delay recovery and sow seeds of future crises, argues Jeremy Warner.

3. Little England should prepare a big welcome (Times)

We need immigrants and most see themselves as British, writes Philip Collins. So what happens if Britain gets broken up?

4. If you want to curb immigration, pay workers a living wage (Guardian)

Cheapskate employers are importing what too often looks like serf-labour instead of hiring ethically at home, says Polly Toynbee.

5. Call out the troops to deal with McCluskey and Co? Not any more (Independent)

We now know that through the summer of 1984, the government was not as confident as it pretended to be that the strike would fail, writes Andy McSmith. 

6. Europe must rebuild faith in democracy (Financial Times)

Voters are frustrated that they exert less influence than ever over elites, writes Tony Barber.

7. Richard Haass’s talks will not have failed if Britain accepts it must now get real on Northern Ireland (Independent)

The Good Friday Agreement was not a prelude to greater integration, writes Mary Dejevsky.

8. The young people failed by society's tyranny of the norm (Guardian)

In schools and wider society we still fear, mock and segregate young people who, like my brother, have learning disabilities, says Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett. 

9. A year in a word: Abenomics (Financial Times)

The premise of Shinzo Abe’s economic plan is that 15 years of deflation have sapped Japan’s 'animal spirits', writes David Pilling. 

10. Furious rail commuters are switching their targets (Times)

Anger is moving from companies to politicians, says Gaby Hinsliff. 

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It's Gary Lineker 1, the Sun 0

The football hero has found himself at the heart of a Twitter storm over the refugee children debate.

The Mole wonders what sort of topsy-turvy universe we now live in where Gary Lineker is suddenly being called a “political activist” by a Conservative MP? Our favourite big-eared football pundit has found himself in a war of words with the Sun newspaper after wading into the controversy over the age of the refugee children granted entry into Britain from Calais.

Pictures published earlier this week in the right-wing press prompted speculation over the migrants' “true age”, and a Tory MP even went as far as suggesting that these children should have their age verified by dental X-rays. All of which leaves your poor Mole with a deeply furrowed brow. But luckily the British Dental Association was on hand to condemn the idea as unethical, inaccurate and inappropriate. Phew. Thank God for dentists.

Back to old Big Ears, sorry, Saint Gary, who on Wednesday tweeted his outrage over the Murdoch-owned newspaper’s scaremongering coverage of the story. He smacked down the ex-English Defence League leader, Tommy Robinson, in a single tweet, calling him a “racist idiot”, and went on to defend his right to express his opinions freely on his feed.

The Sun hit back in traditional form, calling for Lineker to be ousted from his job as host of the BBC’s Match of the Day. The headline they chose? “Out on his ears”, of course, referring to the sporting hero’s most notable assets. In the article, the tabloid lays into Lineker, branding him a “leftie luvvie” and “jug-eared”. The article attacked him for describing those querying the age of the young migrants as “hideously racist” and suggested he had breached BBC guidelines on impartiality.

All of which has prompted calls for a boycott of the Sun and an outpouring of support for Lineker on Twitter. His fellow football hero Stan Collymore waded in, tweeting that he was on “Team Lineker”. Leading the charge against the Murdoch-owned title was the close ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and former Channel 4 News economics editor, Paul Mason, who tweeted:

Lineker, who is not accustomed to finding himself at the centre of such highly politicised arguments on social media, responded with typical good humour, saying he had received a bit of a “spanking”.

All of which leaves the Mole with renewed respect for Lineker and an uncharacteristic desire to watch this weekend’s Match of the Day to see if any trace of his new activist persona might surface.


I'm a mole, innit.