Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. For all Lord Rennard's supporters: a guide to sexual harassment, and why it matters (Guardian)

Sexual harassment is all about who has the power, writes Polly Toynbee. And what women hear from the Lib Dems – yet again – is "not you".

2. Miliband’s mysterious aversion to public sector reform (Financial Times)

The Labour leader’s case for competition just happens to stop at the boundaries of the state, writes Janan Ganesh. 

3. Who are the new middle classes around the world? You'd be surprised how poor some are (Guardian)

The International Labour Organisation has identified a rapid growth of 'the developing middle class' – a group earning between $4 and $13 a day, writes Paul Mason.

4. Geneva II is the only hope for Syria – and Iran should have been part of it (Independent)

A long-term peace deal will have to take place, and it will take place with Iranian involvement, writes Kim Sengupta. 

5. All of England should become a bit Scottish (Times)

If Yorkshire, the Midlands and the South West want to be free of London’s domination they should emulate Holyrood, says Hugo Rifkind. 

6. Rennard won’t budge. The world moves on (Times)

Public opinion has become more enlightened about gender equality, as the Lib Dem fiasco unintentionally shows, says Rachel Sylvester.

7. George Osborne’s Whack-a-Mole tactic is denying Labour any advantage (Daily Telegraph)

The Conservative high command is focusing its 2015 campaign on neutralising the enemy, writes Benedict Brogan. 

8. Get ready, the indispensable Americans are pulling back (Financial Times)

The rest of the world is adjusting to an emerging political and security vacuum, writes Gideon Rachman.  

9. Nick Clegg can’t sack Lord Rennard, and Lord Rennard can’t apologise. It’s just another day of lose-lose politics (Independent)

The term "sexual harassment" is part of the problem with this saga, writes Steve Richards. 

10. Don’t mislead us about our medical records (Daily Telegraph)

The NHS wants us to hand over our personal health details – yet it cannot guarantee anonymity, writes Philip Johnston. 

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PMQs review: Jeremy Corbyn bids for the NHS to rescue Labour

Ahead of tomorrow's by-elections, Corbyn damned Theresa May for putting the service in a "state of emergency".

Whenever Labour leaders are in trouble, they seek political refuge in the NHS. Jeremy Corbyn, whose party faces potential defeat in tomorrow’s Copeland and Stoke by-elections, upheld this iron law today. In the case of the former, Labour has already warned that “babies will die” as a result of the downgrading of the hospital. It is crude but it may yet prove effective (it worked for No to AV, after all).

In the chamber, Corbyn assailed May for cutting the number of hospital beds, worsening waiting times, under-funding social care and abolishing nursing bursaries. The Labour leader rose to a crescendo, damning the Prime Minister for putting the service in a “a state of emergency”. But his scattergun attack was too unfocused to much trouble May.

The Prime Minister came armed with attack lines, brandishing a quote from former health secretary Andy Burnham on cutting hospital beds and reminding Corbyn that Labour promised to spend less on the NHS at the last election (only Nixon can go to China). May was able to boast that the Tories were providing “more money” for the service (this is not, of course, the same as “enough”). Just as Corbyn echoed his predecessors, so the Prime Minister sounded like David Cameron circa 2013, declaring that she would not “take lessons” from the party that presided over the Mid-Staffs scandal and warning that Labour would “borrow and bankrupt” the economy.

It was a dubious charge from the party that has racked up ever-higher debt but a reliably potent one. Labour, however, will be satisfied that May was more comfortable debating the economy or attacking the Brown government, than she was defending the state of the NHS. In Copeland and Stoke, where Corbyn’s party has held power since 1935 and 1950, Labour must hope that the electorate are as respectful of tradition as its leader.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.