Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. 'Agenda for Hope': We want a fairer society – and here’s how we can achieve it (Independent)

Social and economic inequality blights Britain, writes Owen Jones. Here's my nine-point manifesto for change.

2. Bash the rich and you deprive us of what their taxes pay for (Daily Telegraph)

Ed Balls’s insistence on restoring the 50p rate shows his ignorance of how the economy works, says Boris Johnson.

3. 50p tax rate: more than small change (Guardian)

For the first time in a quarter of a century, Labour's manifesto will not be able to contain a line saying "no rise in income tax rates", notes a Guardian editorial. 

4. Ukraine’s spiral to disaster has echoes of Syria (Times)

As Moscow and Kiev suspect, Europe is too divided to defend its interests to the east, writes Edward Lucas.

5. The truth about David Cameron's fracking fairytale (Guardian)

Cameron's story about how shale gas will save the British economy is demonstrably and devastatingly false, says Chris Huhne. 

6. Automation and the threat to jobs (Financial Times)

The policy implications for societies need to be addressed, says an FT editorial. 

7. Until Balls says he was wrong, he’s a liability (Times)

Ed Miliband won’t sack him – but Labour needs to find another way to show the voters it is economically credible, says Gaby Hinsliff. 

8. A fairer nation instead of lions led by donkeys (Daily Mirror)

National discussions will remain skewed against those who need most a political voice in Westminster if they don’t go to the ballot box, writes Kevin Maguire.

9. If Darrin Manning were a high school dropout, he'd still have the right to walk the streets unmolested (Guardian)

An obsession with deserving victims means the horror of the injustice is calibrated against the honour of the individual, writes Gary Younge. 

10. High stakes merger for Hillary Clinton and Obama (Financial Times)

The former Democratic rivals will now sink or swim together, writes Edward Luce.

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"Do not let us down": Scottish MEP receives standing ovation after begging European Parliament

While Alyn Smith won applause, the Scottish Government moved behind the scenes. 

The Scottish National Party MEP Alyn Smith was not exactly a household name before the EU referendum. 

But his impassioned speech to his fellow MEPs begging them to help Scotland stay in the EU has caught the imagination of many Remain voters.

In a session where UKIP's Nigel Farage told MEPs "virtually none of you have ever done a proper job in your lives, Smith struck a very different tone.

Waving a sheet of paper showing Scottish voters had voted to Remain, he said: "I want my country to be internationalist, co-operative, ecological, fair, European. And the people of Scotland, along with the people of Northern Ireland, and the people of London, and lots of people in Wales and England also, voted to Remain within our family of nations."

He urged MEPs to negotiate with cool heads and warm hearts.

And then, raising his voice, he told MEPs: "Please, remember this. Scotland did not let you down. Please, I beg you, cher colleagues, do not let Scotland down now."

MEPs rose to applaud the heartfelt speech. And meanwhile, hundreds of miles away in Holyrood, the Scottish Government had hit the phones.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced she would be meeting European Parliament President Martin Schultz on Wednesday.

Although the SNP's promise of an independent European Scotland was shot down during the Scottish referendum, it seems this time round MEPs are more sympathetic.

Guy Verhofstadt, the former Belgium PM, who leads the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe parliamentary group has already tweeted: "It's wrong that Scotland might be taken out of [the] EU."