Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Austerity Labour is on its way and Ed Balls is leading the charge (Daily Telegraph)

The shadow chancellor must save money – and the NHS – if his party is to win the general election in 2015, writes Mary Riddell. 

2. The challenges of a post-crisis world (Financial Times)

Nations must nurture recovery and promote reform, writes Martin Wolf. Co-operation and communication should be the order of the day.

3. One tax rise too far and suddenly . . . crash! (Times)

Labour thinks it can increase tax on wealth creators without consequence, writes Daniel Finkelstein. Eventually it will reach a tipping point.

4. RBS is the people's bank. So let's stop this annual festival of bribery (Guardian)

Bonus culture has become so warped that bankers presiding over losses of £8bn still think they deserve a reward, writes Simon Jenkins. 

5. After a decade of pre-eminence, the balance of the world economy is tilting away from the BRICS (Independent)

While these countries were growing so fast we tended to ignore the warning signs, writes Hamish McRae. 

6. Our workplaces are about as family-friendly as a 19th-century mill (Guardian)

Maternity leave, sick pay, the minimum wage – the ability to claim these vital rights has been torched by our zero-hours economy, writes Zoe Williams. 

7. Will Obama stand with Japan against China? (Times)

Washington’s weakness – from Kiev to Damascus – has encouraged Beijing to assert itself, says Roger Boyes.

8. Imagine the explosion of growth if we got serious about tax-cutting (Daily Telegraph)

Those on the lowest incomes should pay no tax at at all; while the hard-pressed middle class should face a flat tax, says Allister Heath. 

9. Politicians must lead on immigration (Financial Times)

If we want the world’s best ideas we need innovators living among us, writes Gus O’Donnell.

10. Why I'm speaking up for Islam against the loudmouths who have hijacked it (Guardian)

I tweeted a cartoon of Jesus and Mo, writes Maajid Nawaz. My aim was to carve out a space where Muslims can be heard without fearing the blasphemy charge.

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Paul Nuttall is like his party: sad, desperate and finished

The party hope if they can survive until March 2019, they will grow strong off disillusionment with Brexit. They may not make it until then. 

It’s a measure of how far Ukip have fallen that while Theresa May faced a grilling over her social care U-Turn and Jeremy Corbyn was called to account over his past, the opening sections of Andrew Neill’s interview with Paul Nuttall was about the question of whether or not his party has a future.

The blunt truth is that Ukip faces a battering in this election. They will be blown away in the seats they have put up a candidate in and have pre-emptively retreated from numerous contests across the country.

A party whose leader in Wales once said that climate change was “ridiculous” is now the victim of climate change itself. With Britain heading out of the European Union and Theresa May in Downing Street, it’s difficult to work out what the pressing question in public life to which Ukip is the answer.

Their quest for relevance isn’t helped by Paul Nuttall, who at times tonight cast an unwittingly comic figure. Pressing his case for Ukip’s burka ban, he said earnestly: “For [CCTV] to work, you have to see people’s faces.” It was if he had intended to pick up Nigel Farage’s old dogwhistle and instead put a kazoo to his lips.

Remarks that are, written down, offensive, just carried a stench of desperation. Nuttall’s policy prescriptions – a noun, a verb, and the most rancid comment underneath a Mail article – came across as a cry for attention. Small wonder that senior figures in Ukip expect Nuttall to face a move on his position, though they also expect that he will see off any attempt to remove him from his crown.

But despite his poor performance, Ukip might not be dead yet. There was a gleam of strategy amid the froth from Nuttall in the party’s pledge to oppose any continuing payment to Brussels as part of the Brexit deal, something that May and Corbyn have yet to rule out.

If May does manage to make it back to Downing Street on 8 June, the gap between campaign rhetoric – we’ll have the best Brexit, France will pay for it – and government policy – we’ll pay a one-off bill and continuing contributions if need be – will be fertile territory for Ukip, if they can survive as a going concern politically and financially, until March 2019.

On tonight’s performance, they’ll need a better centre-forward than Paul Nuttall if they are to make it that far. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.

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