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Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Scotland's new era beckons, regardless of how it votes in a stupid referendum (Guardian)

Ultimately, there is little to choose between the devo-max pledged by unionist parties and what Alex Salmond offers, writes Simon Jenkins.

2. The crushed Lib Dems have a bright future (Times)

The protest vote has gone, but Nick Clegg’s party can still hold the balance of power, writes Philip Collins. Ditching him would be suicidal.

3. Welcome to the age of post-interventionism (Independent)

Military intervention in other countries is not the only way for America to show its strength, writes Mary Dejevsky.

4.  A weak France could be the end of Europe (Financial Times)

The vote for Marine Le Pen’s National Front was a powerful warning of the perils of inaction, says Philip Stephens.

5. The war games are over – and it’s the Tories who are smiling (Daily Telegraph)

After the stress-test of last week's local elections, the big parties are in very different places, writes Dan Hodges.

6. The stoning of Farzana Iqbal is another grim step in Pakistan’s descent into chaos (Independent)

The ghastly fact is that this murder was nothing out of the ordinary, writes Peter Popham.

7. Will America start to unlock its prison gates? (Times)

The world’s biggest jailer is questioning both the cost and the effect of incarcerating so many, writes Justin Webb.

8. The mysterious Mr Lansley will hardly set Brussels alight (Daily Telegraph)

David Cameron's choice of Andrew Lansley for the UK’s next European Commissioner has not met with Tory approval, writes Isabel Hardman.

9. A split UK is not for a week but for ever (Financial Times)

Politicians sound like hucksters making rival pitches in a debate that has become paltry, writes Martin Wolf.

10. Liberal Democrats: losing the plot (Guardian)

A successful coup requires passion, but also timing, says a Guardian editorial. And this was not the moment for the party to begin searching its soul.

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The 5 things the Tories aren't telling you about their manifesto

Turns out the NHS is something you really have to pay for after all. 

When Theresa May launched the Conservative 2017 manifesto, she borrowed the most popular policies from across the political spectrum. Some anti-immigrant rhetoric? Some strong action on rip-off energy firms? The message is clear - you can have it all if you vote Tory.

But can you? The respected thinktank the Institute for Fiscal Studies has now been through the manifesto with a fine tooth comb, and it turns out there are some things the Tory manifesto just doesn't mention...

1. How budgeting works

They say: "a balanced budget by the middle of the next decade"

What they don't say: The Conservatives don't talk very much about new taxes or spending commitments in the manifesto. But the IFS argues that balancing the budget "would likely require more spending cuts or tax rises even beyond the end of the next parliament."

2. How this isn't the end of austerity

They say: "We will always be guided by what matters to the ordinary, working families of this nation."

What they don't say: The manifesto does not backtrack on existing planned cuts to working-age welfare benefits. According to the IFS, these cuts will "reduce the incomes of the lowest income working age households significantly – and by more than the cuts seen since 2010".

3. Why some policies don't make a difference

They say: "The Triple Lock has worked: it is now time to set pensions on an even course."

What they don't say: The argument behind scrapping the "triple lock" on pensions is that it provides an unneccessarily generous subsidy to pensioners (including superbly wealthy ones) at the expense of the taxpayer.

However, the IFS found that the Conservatives' proposed solution - a "double lock" which rises with earnings or inflation - will cost the taxpayer just as much over the coming Parliament. After all, Brexit has caused a drop in the value of sterling, which is now causing price inflation...

4. That healthcare can't be done cheap

They say: "The next Conservative government will give the NHS the resources it needs."

What they don't say: The £8bn more promised for the NHS over the next five years is a continuation of underinvestment in the NHS. The IFS says: "Conservative plans for NHS spending look very tight indeed and may well be undeliverable."

5. Cutting immigration costs us

They say: "We will therefore establish an immigration policy that allows us to reduce and control the number of people who come to Britain from the European Union, while still allowing us to attract the skilled workers our economy needs." 

What they don't say: The Office for Budget Responsibility has already calculated that lower immigration as a result of the Brexit vote could reduce tax revenues by £6bn a year in four years' time. The IFS calculates that getting net immigration down to the tens of thousands, as the Tories pledge, could double that loss.

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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