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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Beware, hard Brexiteers - Ruth Davidson is coming for you

The Scottish Conservative leader is well-positioned to fight. 

Wanted: Charismatic leader with working-class roots and a populist touch who can take on the Brexiteers, including some in the government, and do so convincingly.

Enter Ruth Davidson. 

While many Tory MPs quietly share her opposition to a hard Brexit, those who dare to be loud tend to be backbenchers like Anna Soubry and Nicky Morgan. 

By contrast, the Scottish Conservative leader already has huge credibility for rebuilding her party north of the border. Her appearances in the last days of the EU referendum campaign made her a star in the south as well. And she has no qualms about making a joke at Boris Johnson’s expense

Speaking at the Institute of Directors on Monday, Davidson said Brexiteers like Nigel Farage should stop “needling” European leaders.

“I say to the Ukip politicians, when they chuckle and bray about the result in June, grow up,” she declared. “Let us show a bit more respect for these European neighbours and allies.”

Davidson is particularly concerned that Brexiteers underestimate the deeply emotional and political response of other EU nations. 

The negotiations will be 27 to 1, she pointed out: “I would suggest that macho, beer swilling, posturing at the golf club bar isn’t going to get us anywhere.”

At a time when free trade is increasingly a dirty word, Davidson is also striking in her defence of the single market. As a child, she recalls, every plate of food on the table was there because her father, a self-made businessman, had "made stuff and sold it abroad". 

She attacked the Daily Mail for its front cover branding the judges who ruled against the government’s bid to trigger Article 50 “enemies of the people”. 

When the headline was published, Theresa May and Cabinet ministers stressed the freedom of the press. By contrast, Davidson, a former journalist, said that to undermine “the guardians of our democracy” in this way was “an utter disgrace”. 

Davidson might have chosen Ukip and the Daily Mail to skewer, but her attacks could apply to certain Brexiteers in her party as well. 

When The Staggers enquired whether this included the Italy-baiting Foreign Secretary Johnson, she launched a somewhat muted defence.

Saying she was “surprised by the way Boris has taken to the job”, she added: “To be honest, when you have got such a big thing happening and when you have a team in place that has been doing the preparatory work, it doesn’t make sense to reshuffle the benches."

Nevertheless, despite her outsider role, the team matters to Davidson. Part of her electoral success in Scotland is down the way she has capitalised on the anti-independence feeling after the Scottish referendum. If the UK heads for a hard Brexit, she too will have to fend off accusations that her party is the party of division. 

Indeed, for all her jibes at the Brexiteers, Davidson has a serious message. Since the EU referendum, she is “beginning to see embryos of where Scotland has gone post-referendum”. And, she warned: “I do not think we want that division.”

 

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.