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Paper Monitor

10:55 UK time, Wednesday, 26 September 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

"IS THIS MADDIE?" asks the Sun.

"MADDY IN MOROCCO?" asks the Mirror.

"Could this be Maddie?" asks the Mail.

The same, literally overblown, smudged collection of pixels appears in the papers, despite their differing spellings. The Daily Express, for whom it's always Madeleine, not Maddy or Maddie, takes a different tack. "NOW A 'PHOTO' OF MADELEINE IN MOROCCO" it says, though surely the inverted commas should be around "Madeleine" rather than "photo".

The Sun is meanwhile much consumed with its campaign for a referendum on the EU treaty/constitution, and to make the case against the treaty it has pictures of great British icons, including Winston Churchill, the Queen, the Beatles, Bobby Moore, Lewis Hamilton and Jeremy Clarkson. Actually Clarkson is on a different page, but he does write that he wants a referendum so that he can vote in favour. That's right, in favour. "I like the idea of a giant European state tempering American stupidity and Chinese economic might," he writes.

Elsewhere, the ongoing hunt for a knockout phrase by a party conference sketch-writer continues. And the Guardian's Simon Hoggart doesn't do too badly. "The problem with Mr Miliband," he writes, "is his appearance. He looks like a Mr Potato Head. A small boy has obtained too small a potato, onto which he has put a pair of big ears, slapped on a black plastic hairpiece, and a mouth, which he struck on slantwise, because his mother is shouting that his tea's ready."

Perhaps that should teach us something about humour - that saying someone looks like a potato is funny, whereas sophisticated and pointed deconstructions of their political positions usually aren't.

Perhaps it also tells us something about Paper Monitor's own hypocrisy. For, while jokes about Ming Campbell's age made one wonder if it was acceptable in this day and age to make jokes purely about someone's seniority, where oh where is the tortured hand-wringing asking if it is still permissible to make jibes at someone purely because they have a head which looks like a potato? It's not to be seen, and Paper Monitor, for one, will be writing to the BBC to complain.

Footnote. Special attention was paid to this Guardian headline, if only because it made no sense first time round: "Balls to free exam watchdog to tackle dumbing down claims".

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