Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. What a fairer Scotland would look like (Independent)

Despite its progressive rhetoric, the SNP would hand big business a mighty cheque, writes Owen Jones.

2. Three cheers for Tory rebels, the real loyalists (Times)

Downing Street expects unswerving obedience, but without the awkward squad we’d be at war – and have dearer petrol, writes Tm Montgomerie.

3. A broken union would unsettle Northern Ireland (Financial Times)

A Scottish Yes vote would open constitutional question at a delicate time, writes Jonathan Powell.

4. We need a counterweight to City and corporate power (Guardian)

Any further weakening of Labour's links with the unions will only deepen the crisis of representation in the political system, says Seumas Milne.

5. As an island nation, we will in the end have to accept that the sea will continue to reshape our landscape (Independent)

It is unrealistic to fortify the whole of the south west and flood defences obstruct open views, writes Mary Dejevsky.

6. We may soon learn France's real role in the Rwanda genocide (Guardian)

In a milestone court case in Paris, unprecedented testimony could reveal the Elysée's links to the 1994 génocidaires, writes Linda Melvern.

7. Carney must avoid more unforced error (Financial Times)

The BoE hitched its wagon to unemployment when what it really cared about was recovery, writes Chris Giles.

8. The Education Secretary is right to take on teacher 'Blobbledegook’ (Daily Telegraph)

Michael Gove takes the outdated view that teaching and learning is the job description of schools, writes Allison Pearson. He deserves all our support.

9. Payment Protection (Times)

Reducing the national debt is not optional for Britain; it is essential to sustainable recovery, argues a Times editorial.

10. Bitcoin is more than a speculators’ currency (Financial Times)

People could gain ownership rights to digital goods similar to physical ones, writes John Gapper.

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How the Lib Dems learned to love all-women shortlists

Yes, the sitting Lib Dem MPs are mostly white, middle-aged middle class men. But the party's not taking any chances. 

I can’t tell you who’ll be the Lib Dem candidate in Southport on 8 June, but I do know one thing about them. As they’re replacing a sitting Lib Dem (John Pugh is retiring) - they’ll be female.

The same is true in many of our top 20 target seats, including places like Lewes (Kelly-Marie Blundell), Yeovil (Daisy Benson), Thornbury and Yate (Clare Young), and Sutton and Cheam (Amna Ahmad). There was air punching in Lib Dem offices all over the country on Tuesday when it was announced Jo Swinson was standing again in East Dunbartonshire.

And while every current Lib Dem constituency MP will get showered with love and attention in the campaign, one will get rather more attention than most - it’s no coincidence that Tim Farron’s first stop of the campaign was in Richmond Park, standing side by side with Sarah Olney.

How so?

Because the party membership took a long look at itself after the 2015 election - and a rather longer look at the eight white, middle-aged middle class men (sorry chaps) who now formed the Parliamentary party and said - "we’ve really got to sort this out".

And so after decades of prevarication, we put a policy in place to deliberately increase the diversity of candidates.

Quietly, over the last two years, the Liberal Democrats have been putting candidates into place in key target constituencies . There were more than 300 in total before this week’s general election call, and many of them have been there for a year or more. And they’ve been selected under new procedures adopted at Lib Dem Spring Conference in 2016, designed to deliberately promote the diversity of candidates in winnable seats

This includes mandating all-women shortlists when selecting candidates who are replacing sitting MPs, similar rules in our strongest electoral regions. In our top 10 per cent of constituencies, there is a requirement that at least two candidates are shortlisted from underrepresented groups on every list. We became the first party to reserve spaces on the shortlists of winnable seats for underrepresented candidates including women, BAME, LGBT+ and disabled candidates

It’s not going to be perfect - the hugely welcome return of Lib Dem grandees like Vince Cable, Ed Davey and Julian Huppert to their old stomping grounds will strengthen the party but not our gender imbalance. But excluding those former MPs coming back to the fray, every top 20 target constituency bar one has to date selected a female candidate.

Equality (together with liberty and community) is one of the three key values framed in the preamble to the Lib Dem constitution. It’s a relief that after this election, the Liberal Democratic party in the Commons will reflect that aspiration rather better than it has done in the past.

Richard Morris blogs at A View From Ham Common, which was named Best New Blog at the 2011 Lib Dem Conference

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