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Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. This is no recovery, this is a bubble – and it will burst (Guardian)

With policymakers unwilling to introduce tough regulation, we're heading for trouble, says Ha-Joon Chang. 

2. A battle over Ukraine can be avoided (Financial Times)

To stop the country being torn apart its fate must be decided by the Ukrainian people, writes Gideon Rachman. 

3. Mrs Merkel can’t give Cameron what he needs (Times)

Germany’s Chancellor lacks the political freedom to agree the kind of renegotiation Tory Eurosceptics hunger for, says Rachel Sylvester.

4. Why are Eurosceptics still so gloomy? (Independent)

Those who insisted Britain must not join the euro have achieved all that they wanted, writes Steve Richards.

5.  David Cameron’s election gamble could electrify British politics (Daily Telegraph)

A "no deals" promise would be a rallying cry to the right, says Benedict Brogan. 

6. Dear Rebecca Adlington, they're the ugly ones (Guardian)

This is my message to the best British swimmer of her generation, writes Laurie Penny. If you've had a "nose shrink", it's OK. I've got your back.

7. Cameron must not dampen this Eurosceptic momentum (Guardian)

 If Alternative für Deutschland wants to join the Tories in Europe, it should be allowed to, no matter what Merkel thinks, says Paul Goodman. 

8. We misjudge Merkel’s vim for EU reform (Financial Times)

The real error is to overrate her capacity to deliver change, even if she wanted it, says Janan Ganesh. 

9. Salmond has to answer some serious questions (Daily Telegraph)

Scotland's First Minister is uncomfortable confronting certain policy areas, but they need to be addressed, says a Telegraph editorial. 

10. Piers Morgan did gun control more harm than good (Times)

In the US, weapons co-exist with a peacefulness that puts Britain to shame, says Justin Webb. 

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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.