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Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. It's the cumulative impact of benefit cuts that is shocking (Guardian)

Disabled people are the worst hit of any group by myriad welfare changes that relentlessly reduce already meagre incomes, writes Zoe Williams. 

2. Why the Archbishop of Westminster is wrong about welfare (Daily Telegraph)

Our plan for Britain is not just about saving money, but about doing what is right, says David Cameron.

3. Neglect pre-school education and we will all be the poorer (Daily Telegraph)

Britains's youngsters are falling behind and our shambolic nursery system is partly to blame, says Mary Riddell. 

4. High price of ignoring risks of catastrophe (Financial Times)

Models of climate change all but assume it cannot have a huge effect on the economy, writes Robin Harding.

5. Who will replace David Cameron as Tory leader? Maybe a man you don't expect (Guardian)

Boris Johnson, George Osborne and Theresa May are all favourites, but a rank outsider, who models himself on Michael Gove, could pip the lot of them, writes Ian Birrell. 

6. We’re in a mess. We must know who to blame (Times)

Response to the floods and the Ofsted row both show that public appointments should be more political, not less, says Daniel Finkelstein. 

7. The trouble with the economic recovery is it mainly benefits those already doing well (Independent)

We are setting up trouble, as you can see most obviously in the property market, says Hamish McRae. 

8. Sometimes a polite letter can be a pistol shot (Daily Telegraph)

It has taken a retired Australian judge to show us how to deal with Kim Jong-un's atrocities in North Korea, says Colin Freeman. 

9. Failing states such as Syria deserve to fail (Times)

There is so much hatred inside some national borders that divorce can be the only solution, writes Roger Boyes.

10. Let schools compete to aid students (Financial Times)

Competition between schools lifts grades, write Gabriel Sahlgren and Julian Le Grand.

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Who will win in Manchester Gorton?

Will Labour lose in Manchester Gorton?

The death of Gerald Kaufman will trigger a by-election in his Manchester Gorton seat, which has been Labour-held since 1935.

Coming so soon after the disappointing results in Copeland – where the seat was lost to the Tories – and Stoke – where the party lost vote share – some overly excitable commentators are talking up the possibility of an upset in the Manchester seat.

But Gorton is very different to Stoke-on-Trent and to Copeland. The Labour lead is 56 points, compared to 16.5 points in Stoke-on-Trent and 6.5 points in Copeland. (As I’ve written before and will doubtless write again, it’s much more instructive to talk about vote share rather than vote numbers in British elections. Most of the country tends to vote in the same way even if they vote at different volumes.)

That 47 per cent of the seat's residents come from a non-white background and that the Labour party holds every council seat in the constituency only adds to the party's strong position here. 

But that doesn’t mean that there is no interest to be had in the contest at all. That the seat voted heavily to remain in the European Union – around 65 per cent according to Chris Hanretty’s estimates – will provide a glimmer of hope to the Liberal Democrats that they can finish a strong second, as they did consistently from 1992 to 2010, before slumping to fifth in 2015.

How they do in second place will inform how jittery Labour MPs with smaller majorities and a history of Liberal Democrat activity are about Labour’s embrace of Brexit.

They also have a narrow chance of becoming competitive should Labour’s selection turn acrimonious. The seat has been in special measures since 2004, which means the selection will be run by the party’s national executive committee, though several local candidates are tipped to run, with Afzal Khan,  a local MEP, and Julie Reid, a local councillor, both expected to run for the vacant seats.

It’s highly unlikely but if the selection occurs in a way that irritates the local party or provokes serious local in-fighting, you can just about see how the Liberal Democrats give everyone a surprise. But it’s about as likely as the United States men landing on Mars any time soon – plausible, but far-fetched. 

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