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Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Booming Britain running smoothly? Don't believe the hype just yet (Guardian)

Growth figures will show a rise in output, but despite Bank of England repairs, the economic model may yet run out of road, warns Larry Elliott. 

2. Don’t lose heart. There are ways of defeating Ukip (Times)

Trust the people, says John McTernan. They don’t get it wrong. They know a bad argument when they hear it.

3. China’s crisis is coming (Financial Times)

The longer the economy stays unbalanced, the worse the outcome will be, says Prasenjit Basu. 

4. Stand with Lenny Henry, not just against Ukip's bigots (Guardian)

It is easy to get angry over racism when it is overt, but let's not forget the scandal that gave rise to the Henwood outburst, says Owen Jones.

5. Why Janet Yellen and the Federal Reserve should make workers’ wage growth into a target (Independent)

Wage inflation should be used as an additional target for monetary policy by the US central bank, says David Blanchflower. 

6. To Birmingham and Beyond (Times)

The case for new high-speed rail links between London and the north is strong, says a Times editorial. The interests of a few must not derail it.

7. There’s a simple solution to this Euro-elections sham (Daily Telegraph)

Westminster politicians are well placed to do a good job in Brussels and Strasbourg, writes Boris Johnson.

8. America’s compulsive urge to regulate (Financial Times)

With its spider’s web of local and federal rules, the US is swinging back to intrusion, writes Edward Luce.

9. Abbas’s recognition that the Holocaust was a ‘heinous crime’ was a goodwill gesture Netanyahu is ungracious to spurn (Independent)

If progress is ever to be made towards ending the conflict, this dialogue has to stop, says an Independent editorial. 

10. Ten years of Clegg? Let's all get ready to emigrate (Daily Mail)

More than with most senior politicians, you feel the political positions he adopts accord with European rather than UK tastes, writes Peter McKay. 

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Leader: Mourning in Manchester

Yet another attack shows we are going to have to get to used to the idea that our liberalism and our freedoms can only be preserved by a strong state.

Children are murdered and maimed by a suicide bomber as they are leaving a pop concert in Manchester. As a consequence, the government raises the terror threat to “critical”, which implies that another attack is imminent, and the army is sent out on to the streets of our cities in an attempt to reassure and encourage all good citizens to carry on as normal. The general election campaign is suspended. Islamic State gleefully denounces the murdered and wounded as “crusaders” and “polytheists”.

Meanwhile, the usual questions are asked, as they are after each new Islamist terrorist atrocity. Why do they hate us so much? Have they no conscience or pity or sense of fellow feeling? We hear, too, the same platitudes: there is more that unites us than divides us, and so on. And so we wait for the next attack on innocent civilians, the next assault on the free and open society, the next demonstration that Islamism is the world’s most malignant and dangerous ideology.

The truth of the matter is that the Manchester suicide bomber, Salman Ramadan Abedi, was born and educated in Britain. He was 22 when he chose to end his own life. He had grown up among us: indeed, like the London bombers of 7 July 2005, you could call him, however reluctantly, one of us. The son of Libyan refugees, he supported Manchester United, studied business management at Salford University and worshipped at Didsbury Mosque. Yet he hated this country and its people so viscerally that he was prepared to blow himself up in an attempt to murder and wound as many of his fellow citizens as possible.

The Manchester massacre was an act of nihilism by a wicked man. It was also sadly inevitable. “The bomb was,” writes the Mancunian cultural commentator Stuart Maconie on page 26, “as far as we can guess, an attack on the fans of a young American woman and entertainer, on the frivolousness and foolishness and fun of young girlhood, on lipstick and dressing up and dancing, on ‘boyfs’ and ‘bezzies’ and all the other freedoms that so enrage the fanatics and contradict their idiot dogmas. Hatred of women is a smouldering core of their wider, deeper loathing for us. But to single out children feels like a new low of wickedness.”

We understand the geopolitical context for the atrocity. IS is under assault and in retreat in its former strongholds of Mosul and Raqqa. Instead of urging recruits to migrate to the “caliphate”, IS has been urging its sympathisers and operatives in Europe to carry out attacks in their countries of residence. As our contributing writer and terrorism expert, Shiraz Maher, explains on page 22, these attacks are considered to be acts of revenge by the foot soldiers and fellow-travellers of the caliphate. There have been Western interventions in Muslim lands and so, in their view, all civilians in Western countries are legitimate targets for retaliatory violence.

An ever-present threat of terrorism is the new reality of our lives in Europe. If these zealots can murder children at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, there is no action that they would not consider unconscionable. And in this country there are many thousands – perhaps even tens of thousands – who are in thrall to Islamist ideology. “Terror makes the new future possible,” the American Don DeLillo wrote in his novel Mao II, long before the al-Qaeda attacks of 11 September 2001. The main work of terrorists “involves mid-air explosions and crumbled buildings. This is the new tragic narrative.”

Immediately after the Paris attacks in November 2015, John Gray reminded us in these pages of how “peaceful coexistence is not the default condition of modern humankind”. We are going to have to get used to the idea that our liberalism and our freedoms can only be preserved by a strong state. “The progressive narrative in which freedom is advancing throughout the world has left liberal societies unaware of their fragility,” John Gray wrote. Liberals may not like it, but a strong state is the precondition of any civilised social order. Certain cherished freedoms may have to be compromised. This is the new tragic narrative.

This article first appeared in the 25 May 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Why Islamic State targets Britain

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