Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Ed Miliband's pitch is radical – but his party is stuck in 1997 (Guardian)

With growth returning, only a frontal assault can turn people against the inept nastiness of George Osborne's economics, says Polly Toynbee.

2. It may take the EU to save this country from Ed Miliband’s economic agenda (Daily Telegraph)

There are benefits to Brussels – not least that it could block Labour's more dangerous ideas, says Fraser Nelson. 

3. Banking will be swept aside by the internet (Times)

Miliband is right that the industry must change, says Paul Marshall. But his solutions are way behind the times.

4. The Bank of England must go slow on tightening (Financial Times)

The MPC must consider the risks of stifling a still fragile recovery by raising rates prematurely, says Martin Wolf. 

5. It's no good just whipping the bankers (Daily Telegraph)

Economic growth and reform should be the priority, rather than yet more regulation, says Jeremy Warner.

6. If the MoD can't name the enemy, it shouldn't buy the weapons (Guardian)

Britain hasn't faced a true threat since cold war, but that hasn't stopped the defence lobby from peddling paranoia, writes Simon Jenkins.

7. A leader too weak to stop Lord Rennard damaging his party (Daily Telegraph)

The peer refuses to apologise to his alleged sexual harassment victims and there's nothing the party can do to force him, writes Isabel Hardman. 

8. The Bank of England must go slow on tightening (Financial Times)

The MPC must consider the risks of stifling a still fragile recovery by raising rates prematurely, says Martin Wolf. 

9. We should keep our noses out. This is private (Times)

Our interest in the Hollande affair is mere prurience, writes Philip Collins. We don’t need new laws, just a new attitude.

10. Until Aung San Suu Kyi can run for President, Burma is no democracy (Independent)

If the military blocks constitutional change, the world will want to know why, writes John Bercow. 

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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.