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Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Merkel will not bend EU rules for Britain (Financial Times)

The union will always be a club that the UK does not lead, says Philip Stephens. 

2. Our economy’s getting bigger, but not better (Daily Telegraph)

Self-congratulation over Britain’s growth figures masks a crippling productivity problem, writes Jeremy Warner. 

3. There was no conspiracy. It was a cock-up (Times)

We should not over-react to an administrative error by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, writes Jonathan Powell. 

4. Free schools will stumble – the test is how well they recover (Daily Telegraph)

Michael Gove’s academies have their critics, but new schools are as likely to fail as new companies, says Fraser Nelson. 

5. Dave is utterly deluded if he thinks the Iron Chancellor's going to help end his Euro nightmare (Daily Mail)

Merkel's determination that Germany should continue leading the EU according to her iron-rod agenda was predictable to all — except to a few wildly optimistic souls, writes Simon Heffer. 

6. Labour and Ed Miliband disagree about party prospects (Daily Telegraph)

Labour HQ doubts the party can get an election majority, but the leader is more bullish, writes Isabel Hardman.

7. Politics, not law, has become the master of British justice (Guardian)

 From amnesties for the IRA to calls for the Woolwich murderers to be lynched, crime and punishment is now a politicised mess, writes Simon Jenkins. 

8. A symptom of broken Britain is fixed at last (Times)

Teen pregnancy is falling, thanks to decisions made 15 years ago, says Philip Collins. That’s how long it takes to tackle big social problems.

9. While politicians bicker over self-serving definitions of poverty, a simple measure of ‘need’ is being overlooked (Independent)

The obvious place to start is with the consumption of food, writes Andreas Whittam Smith. 

10. First world war bravery was not confined to the soldiers (Guardian)

As we mark the conflict, we must not forget those who were ridiculed, jailed and worse for daring to fight for peace, writes Priyamvada Gopal.

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Commons Confidential: Fearing the Wigan warrior

An electoral clash, select committee elections as speed dating, and Ed Miliband’s political convalescence.

Members of Labour’s disconsolate majority, sitting in tight knots in the tearoom as the MP with the best maths skills calculates who will survive and who will die, based on the latest bad poll, observe that Jeremy Corbyn has never been so loyal to the party leadership. The past 13 months, one told me, have been the Islington rebel’s longest spell without voting against Labour. The MP was contradicted by a colleague who argued that, in voting against Trident renewal, Corbyn had defied party policy. There is Labour chatter that an early general election would be a mercy killing if it put the party out of its misery and removed Corbyn next year. In 2020, it is judged, defeat will be inevitable.

The next London mayoral contest is scheduled for the same date as a 2020 election: 7 May. Sadiq Khan’s people whisper that when they mentioned the clash to ministers, they were assured it won’t happen. They are uncertain whether this indicates that the mayoral contest will be moved, or that there will be an early general election. Intriguing.

An unguarded retort from the peer Jim O’Neill seems to confirm that a dispute over the so-called Northern Powerhouse triggered his walkout from the Treasury last month. O’Neill, a fanboy of George Osborne and a former Goldman Sachs chief economist, gave no reason when he quit Theresa May’s government and resigned the Tory whip in the Lords. He joined the dots publicly when the Resolution Foundation’s director, Torsten Bell, queried the northern project. “Are you related to the PM?” shot back the Mancunian O’Neill. It’s the way he tells ’em.

Talk has quietened in Westminster Labour ranks of a formal challenge to Corbyn since this year’s attempt backfired, but the Tories fear Lisa Nandy, should the leader fall under a solar-powered ecotruck selling recycled organic knitwear.

The Wigan warrior is enjoying favourable reviews for her forensic examination of the troubled inquiry into historic child sex abuse. After Nandy put May on the spot, the Tory three-piece suit Alec Shelbrooke was overheard muttering: “I hope she never runs for leader.” Anna Soubry and Nicky Morgan, the Thelma and Louise of Tory opposition to Mayhem, were observed nodding in agreement.

Select committee elections are like speed dating. “Who are you?” inquired Labour’s Kevan Jones (Granite Central)of a stranger seeking his vote. She explained that she was Victoria Borwick, the Tory MP for Kensington, but that didn’t help. “This is the first time you’ve spoken to me,” Jones continued, “so the answer’s no.” The aloof Borwick lost, by the way.

Ed Miliband is joining Labour’s relaunched Tribune Group of MPs to continue his political convalescence. Next stop: the shadow cabinet?

Kevin Maguire is Associate Editor (Politics) on the Daily Mirror and author of our Commons Confidential column on the high politics and low life in Westminster. An award-winning journalist, he is in frequent demand on television and radio and co-authored a book on great parliamentary scandals. He was formerly Chief Reporter on the Guardian and Labour Correspondent on the Daily Telegraph.

This article first appeared in the 27 October 2016 issue of the New Statesman, American Rage