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Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Ed Miliband will live or die on the altar of immigration (Daily Telegraph)

The Labour leader should resist the temptation to shift to the right to counter Ukip’s threat, says Mary Riddell. 

2. Cleanse Fifa of corruption by leaving it, not playing along (Guardian)

We've danced to Blatter's tune for too long, writes Simon Jenkins. Britain, the birthplace of football, should set up a rival body – if only we had the guts.

3. Cities make us happy: more power to them (Times)

If we want places such as Manchester and Cambridge to thrive, they need more control over their own destiny, says Daniel Finkelstein. 

4. The problem with hospitals (Independent)

If a few hospitals are in trouble financially, it’s their problem, writes Oliver Wright. But if lots of hospitals are...

5. Let's not savage Kirstie Allsopp for having a view on motherhood (Guardian)

Until we allow women the freedom that we give to men, they will continue to receive vitriol simply for speaking out, writes Zoe Williams.

6. A university education is priceless (Daily Telegraph)

It is impossible to put a value on eccentric dons, time-wasting and learning to think, says A. N. Wilson. 

7. US sets an example on climate change (Financial Times)

America’s measures to cut carbon emissions must lead to a global agreement, writes John Kerry.

8. The NHS: money matters (Guardian)

Talk of an existential crisis, repeated most recently by Labour veteran Frank Field, no longer looks alarmist, says a Guardian editorial. 

9. Bold reforms aid Mexico’s growth (Financial Times)

The spur has been big improvements in policy but also in governance, says Martin Wolf.

10. The odd couple who may just save the union (Times)

A peer and a kick-boxing Tory leader have plotted a middle way for Scots who want to vote No without feeling unpatriotic, writes Alice Thomson. 

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Who will win the Copeland by-election?

Labour face a tricky task in holding onto the seat. 

What’s the Copeland by-election about? That’s the question that will decide who wins it.

The Conservatives want it to be about the nuclear industry, which is the seat’s biggest employer, and Jeremy Corbyn’s long history of opposition to nuclear power.

Labour want it to be about the difficulties of the NHS in Cumbria in general and the future of West Cumberland Hospital in particular.

Who’s winning? Neither party is confident of victory but both sides think it will be close. That Theresa May has visited is a sign of the confidence in Conservative headquarters that, win or lose, Labour will not increase its majority from the six-point lead it held over the Conservatives in May 2015. (It’s always more instructive to talk about vote share rather than raw numbers, in by-elections in particular.)

But her visit may have been counterproductive. Yes, she is the most popular politician in Britain according to all the polls, but in visiting she has added fuel to the fire of Labour’s message that the Conservatives are keeping an anxious eye on the outcome.

Labour strategists feared that “the oxygen” would come out of the campaign if May used her visit to offer a guarantee about West Cumberland Hospital. Instead, she refused to answer, merely hyping up the issue further.

The party is nervous that opposition to Corbyn is going to supress turnout among their voters, but on the Conservative side, there is considerable irritation that May’s visit has made their task harder, too.

Voters know the difference between a by-election and a general election and my hunch is that people will get they can have a free hit on the health question without risking the future of the nuclear factory. That Corbyn has U-Turned on nuclear power only helps.

I said last week that if I knew what the local paper would look like between now and then I would be able to call the outcome. Today the West Cumbria News & Star leads with Downing Street’s refusal to answer questions about West Cumberland Hospital. All the signs favour Labour. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.