UK newspaper review: Google child abuse block in headlines

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Media captionJames Lyons, deputy political editor of the Daily Mirror, and Kevin Schofield, chief political correspondent of the Sun, discuss Monday's papers.

The Daily Mail brings readers the news that Google has decided to introduce controls to prevent users accessing material related to child abuse.

Elsewhere, two of Monday's papers go with stories that could make uncomfortable reading for David Cameron.

The Daily Telegraph says a top donor is to back UKIP rather than the Conservatives at the 2015 general election, while the Times says Tory backbenchers are "spoiling for a fight" over tax cuts.

For the red tops, the start of this year's I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here gets front page billing.

Reviewing the papers for the BBC's News Channel, James Lyons, deputy political editor of the Daily Mirror, was unimpressed with those aforementioned Conservatives pushing for tax cuts for the middle classes. "It sounds like the same old broken record from Tory right wingers," he said, arguing that, in fact, it would amount to "another tax cut for the rich".

But Kevin Schofield, chief political correspondent of the Sun, said "It depends how you define rich. The point they are making is that more and more relatively low income people - albeit above the national average - have been dragged into paying the 40p tax rate."

Age old argument

In general there seems to be little support for the idea - mooted by a senior health expert on Sunday - of lowering the age of consent to 15.

The Sun doesn't mince words: "It's difficult to imagine a more stupid idea."

The Daily Express is similarly blunt. "Frequently it takes a high-powered academic to put forward an idea totally devoid of common sense," its leader says. The paper believes the move would make girls and boys that age "vulnerable to exploitation by adults".

The Guardian notes that the UK has a higher rate of teenage pregnancy than France, where the age is 15, and Germany, where it is usually 14, so "it seems unlikely there is an link between it and safe sexual activity".

The Independent agrees there is "no international consensus" on which age is right, but "the strength of the reaction from politicians, lawyers and sexual health experts yesterday gave an early indication of how politically impossible such a move would be".

Paying tribute

Image caption Doris Lessing, known for books such as The Golden Notebook, has died at the age of 94

Every paper reports the death of Nobel prize-winning author Doris Lessing and most feature tributes to her talent.

"If there were a Mount Rushmore of 20th Century authors, Doris Lessing would most certainly be carved upon it," writes Margret Atwood, in the Guardian.

The Daily Telegraph says she was a "feisty heroine who was so ahead of her time it may yet be to come". Gaby Wood, the paper's head of books, says she wrote about "women's ambivalence with regard to motherhood and sex and work in a way that was simultaneously shocking and influential".

Speaking of ambivalence, the Financial Times says Lessing had an "ambivalent" relationship with the feminist movement in the 1950s and 60s, but "many women related to her independent-minded female characters in a way achieved by few other authors of the time."

The Independent's Boyd Tonkin describes her as "a woman in flight". She fled colonial Rhodesia, two marriages, and "even managed to flee the moment of her own Nobel annunciation", reacting to the news with a withering "Oh Christ".

Child abuse crackdown

Google chairman Eric Schmidt writes in the Daily Mail about his decision to block images and videos involving child abuse from appearing in search results.

While highlighting its own campaign on the issue, the Mail also gives credit to David Cameron for his success in "persuading" Google and Microsoft to act. But it notes that search engines "make millions from adverts linked to explicit imagery", so if they are slow to make good on their commitments, the prime minister "must not shrink from his promise to bring forward legislation to force their hand".

Campaigners tell the Times they welcome the move, but more will have to be done to "stop determined abusers" who use peer-to-peer networks, not search engines, to share material on what is known as "the dark internet".

Libby Purves, writing in the same newspaper, discusses a related issue - the problem of children themselves being able to watch pornography on the internet. She refers to the "online distortion of sexuality", adding: "When you couple fast-broadband convenience with the primal urges of sexuality, something new and bad happens."

Cost of Christmas

Image caption A glamorous Helen Mirren appears on several front pages on Monday

With only 36 days until Christmas, the cost of the festivities is troubling several papers.

The Daily Mail reports on a survey which says the bill for the big lunch has risen by 17% since last year - coming in at an average £106. It says turkey is pricier this year, as are Brussels sprouts, roasting potatoes, carrots and peas.

The Sun does find one ray of sunshine. Alka Seltzer is 2% cheaper, so "at least the hangover might not be so bad".

According to the Daily Mirror, though, you don't have to spend anything like £106. It says a "supermarket price battle" has kicked off, with frozen food store Iceland promising to deliver the cheapest turkey dinner at £30.50.

Winter weather

There have been warnings of an "Arctic blast" for days now and Monday's papers seem convinced of its imminent arrival.

The Daily Express - never one to miss a weather story - quotes Leon Brown, of The Weather Channel, describing it as a "Polar plunge". It says charities are warning elderly people about the health risks of the cold.

It was only a matter of time, and today the Daily Star reports that "bookies have slashed the odds of a white Christmas". The paper says an army of "giant earth movers have been out loading mountains of motorway grit in anticipation of sub-zero temperatures".

The Times takes a slightly different angle. It says the cold spell "could be the first test of resolve for many people who have thus far resisted switching on their central heating in the face of rising energy bills".

Childcare bills

Ahead of a speech on the subject by Labour leader Ed Miliband, the Daily Mirror reports his claim that the cost of childcare has risen by 30% under the coalition. The government says it is taking action to tackle the issue and increasing funding for the most disadvantaged two-year-olds.

However, the Mirror says parents are seeing their earnings "eaten away" by the cost of nurseries and child minders and urges Labour to go further. "A policy like free childcare for all working parents could hand Ed Miliband the keys to Downing Street," its leader says.

Commonwealth future

Image caption Many papers report on a theft from the dressing rooms of Strictly Come Dancing. It took place while the show was on location at Blackpool's Tower Ballroom.

After the end of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka, the papers are still chewing over David Cameron's decision to go.

Once there, the PM had robust discussions with President Mahinda Rajapaksa about alleged human rights abuses, but the Times leader column says "it is easy to be brave when the stakes are low". "The spectre of a difficult relationship with a country with the global influence of Sri Lanka is not a prospect likely to give any British prime minister many sleepless nights."

Nevertheless, if the "unlikely family" of the Commonwealth is to survive, "candour, rather than equivocation" is what's needed between its members, the Times adds.

The Independent says Mr Cameron "made good on his promise to place a spotlight on the question of Tamil rights", and "arguably... made it less likely that the government in Colombo will resort to violence against the Tamils in future". "It is hard to see what more he could have done," the paper adds.