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Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. America risks becoming a Downton Abbey economy (Financial Times)

Inequality must be addressed, with free markets playing a pivotal role, writes Larry Summers.

2. The Tories can be the new workers’ party (Daily Telegraph)

After decades of decline in the north, there is a chance of renewal for Disraeli’s successors, says David Skelton. 

3. The world cannot turn a blind eye to America’s drone attacks in Pakistan (Independent)

Why was Karim Khan prevented from speaking out against drone warfare, asks Robert Fisk. 

4. The sceptics are right. Don’t scapegoat them (Times)

There is no evidence, Mr Miliband, Lord Stern and others, that our floods and storms are related to climate change, says Matt Ridley.

5. To Russia with love: Obama’s energy lever (Financial Times)

The US energy windfall will enable Washington to loosen Moscow’s grip on its neighbours, writes Edward Luce.

6. Flood defences: George Osborne tackled yesterday's crisis at the cost of today's (Guardian)

The chancellor's flood defence cuts were driven by deficit reduction, writes Chris Huhne. But we can't continue learning by drowning.

7. Syria talks still offer reasons for hope, despite the breakdown (Guardian)

The Geneva negotiations failed, but at least both sides have agreed there are two main issues to tackle, writes Jonathan Steele.

8. After the flood: Animals and plants also need our support (Independent)

A vital ecosystem is essential to the health of the lands so many depend on, says an Independent editorial. 

9. Today's teenagers have the makings of model citizens (Guardian)

Contrary to the negative media portrayals, a new study shows young people are part of a caring-sharing generation, writes Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett. 

10. Riding my broken bike is like working with the Lib Dems (Daily Telegraph)

Mistaking a pothole for a puddle put paid to an old friend, but there is an upside to my mishap, says Boris Johnson.

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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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