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Paper Monitor

09:31 UK time, Friday, 10 December 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Panic on the streets of London. The prime minister - a confirmed Smiths fan - must surely have recalled Morrissey's lyric as he surveyed coverage of rioting by anti-tuition fees protesters in the morning papers.

The revolutionary symbolism too neat to resist, nearly all of Fleet Street's front pages are dominated by images of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall's car coming under attack.

Nearly all, that is, apart from the high-minded Independent, which leads on a more egalitarian image of police and students sluggling it out, and the Daily Star, which, reliably enough, judges that the most important story of the day concerns the X Factor.

Condemnation of rioting is, of course, uniform. "What happened on the streets of Westminster yesterday was a disgrace," thunders the Times, attacking "stupid, graceless acts of violence" against the police and property.

Likewise, the Sun charges the protesters with "shaming Britain" by climbing the Cenotaph, defacing a statue of Winston Churchill and torching Trafalgar Square's Christmas tree. It insists that higher tuition fees were "inevitable" because many graduates "earn far more than hard-up taxpayers who have been subsidising their degrees".

"Not even police horses were spared the fury of the rabble," fumes the Daily Mail, ever alert for an animal cruelty angle. "In Parliament Square, protesters deliberately tried to injure the animals and knock their riders to the ground."

However, not all the papers reserve their ire exclusively for the protesters.

The Daily Mirror joins its competitors to "utterly condemn" disorder which it describes as "appalling," "mindless" and "utterly unwarranted".

But it focuses its fury on Liberal Democrat MPs who voted to support the increase, having pledged to do the opposite before the election.

Over four pages, its coverage of the unrest is headed "THE FIB-DEM RIOT", alongside a picture of the party's leader with a Pinocchio-style extended nose unless we missed the point. "The credibility of double-dealing Nick Clegg and his pathetic Lib Dems went up in flames yesterday," its leader furiously proclaims.

The Guardian questions police tactics, raising complaints about the "kettling" of demonstrators and the use of force by officers. It adds: "The atmosphere for much of the afternoon had been relaxed and almost cheerful as many among the crowd repeated chants, danced to portable sound systems or huddled around small fires made from burning placards."

For once, Paper Monitor has read enough. The blizzard of images of disorder and casualty statistics calls to mind another couplet by the prime minister's favoured lyricist:

Someone's beaten up
And the senses being dulled are mine.

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