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Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Cameron is paying the price for grievous lapse of judgment (Daily Telegraph)

After Rupert Murdoch and Maria Miller errors, Downing Street needs shaking up if the Prime Minister’s credibility with voters is to be restored, says Peter Oborne. 

2. After Maria Miller, the good news is that MPs can change (Guardian)

The culture secretary's thoroughly modern departure will prompt reform, although mistrust in politics still presents a wider problem, writes Martin Kettle. 

3. The first of Thatcher’s children has arrived (Times)

Maria Miller’s resignation will soon be forgotten, writes Tim Montgomerie. But her replacement could make a lasting impression on politics.

4. Rising inequality is Asia’s main challenge (Financial Times)

Much of the benefit of economic growth goes to those who were already better off, writes David Pilling. 

5. Orwell would loathe this leftie gobbledegook (Times)

The vacuous advice recently offered to Ed Miliband is indicative of the lack of thinking at the heart of the left, says David Aaronovitch. 

6. Mess and muddle as the Scots’ vote looms (Daily Telegraph)

Westminster is making no plans for a Yes vote on Scottish independence, and the Civil Service’s neutrality is under fire, writes Sue Cameron. 

7. Venezuela shows that protest can be a defence of privilege (Guardian)

Street action is now regularly used with western backing to target elected governments in the interests of elites, writes Seumas Milne. 

8. Let's imagine the UK votes to leave the EU. What happens next? (Independent)

It’s a realistic prospect, and now brilliant young diplomat Iain Mansfield has come up with the answer, writes Andreas Whittam Smith. 

9. An Osborne ‘I told you so’ is justified (Financial Times)

The UK chancellor has suffered much abuse – he is only giving what he has received, says Chris Giles.

10. The working classes don't want to be 'hard-working families' (Guardian)

The rhetorical label 'hard-working families' has won Labour no voters and ignores the true nature of social change, says Selina Todd. 

Wikipedia.
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No, Jeremy Corbyn did not refuse to condemn the IRA. Please stop saying he did

Guys, seriously.

Okay, I’ll bite. Someone’s gotta say it, so really might as well be me:

No, Jeremy Corbyn did not, this weekend, refuse to condemn the IRA. And no, his choice of words was not just “and all other forms of racism” all over again.

Can’t wait to read my mentions after this one.

Let’s take the two contentions there in order. The claim that Corbyn refused to condem the IRA relates to his appearance on Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme yesterday. (For those who haven’t had the pleasure, it’s a weekly political programme, hosted by Sophy Ridge and broadcast on a Sunday. Don’t say I never teach you anything.)

Here’s how Sky’s website reported that interview:

 

The first paragraph of that story reads:

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been criticised after he refused five times to directly condemn the IRA in an interview with Sky News.

The funny thing is, though, that the third paragraph of that story is this:

He said: “I condemn all the bombing by both the loyalists and the IRA.”

Apparently Jeremy Corbyn has been so widely criticised for refusing to condemn the IRA that people didn’t notice the bit where he specifically said that he condemned the IRA.

Hasn’t he done this before, though? Corbyn’s inability to say he that opposed anti-semitism without appending “and all other forms of racism” was widely – and, to my mind, rightly – criticised. These were weasel words, people argued: an attempt to deflect from a narrow subject where the hard left has often been in the wrong, to a broader one where it wasn’t.

Well, that pissed me off too: an inability to say simply “I oppose anti-semitism” made it look like he did not really think anti-semitism was that big a problem, an impression not relieved by, well, take your pick.

But no, to my mind, this....

“I condemn all the bombing by both the loyalists and the IRA.”

...is, despite its obvious structural similarities, not the same thing.

That’s because the “all other forms of racism thing” is an attempt to distract by bringing in something un-related. It implies that you can’t possibly be soft on anti-semitism if you were tough on Islamophobia or apartheid, and experience shows that simply isn’t true.

But loyalist bombing were not unrelated to IRA ones: they’re very related indeed. There really were atrocities committed on both sides of the Troubles, and while the fatalities were not numerically balanced, neither were they orders of magnitude apart.

As a result, specifically condemning both sides as Corbyn did seems like an entirely reasonable position to take. Far creepier, indeed, is to minimise one set of atrocities to score political points about something else entirely.

The point I’m making here isn’t really about Corbyn at all. Historically, his position on Northern Ireland has been pro-Republican, rather than pro-peace, and I’d be lying if I said I was entirely comfortable with that.

No, the point I’m making is about the media, and its bias against Labour. Whatever he may have said in the past, whatever may be written on his heart, yesterday morning Jeremy Corbyn condemned IRA bombings. This was the correct thing to do. His words were nonetheless reported as “Jeremy Corbyn refuses to condemn IRA”.

I mean, I don’t generally hold with blaming the mainstream media for politicians’ failures, but it’s a bit rum isn’t it?

Jonn Elledge edits the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric, and writes for the NS about subjects including politics, history and Daniel Hannan. You can find him on Twitter or Facebook.

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