Newspaper review: PM's China visit and crash victims

  • 2 December 2013

After a Sunday in which one story - the helicopter crash - dominated the papers, Monday's front pages are more of a mixed bag.

Several report the names of some of those killed in the crash, alongside their photographs, while others discuss the prime minister's trip to China this week.

The Independent and i lead with an accusation made by a cross-party committee that the government is planning to cut the number of people defined as fuel poor by "moving the goalposts" of how the figure is defined.

Elsewhere, the Financial Times says several big firms have told it that government-imposed green levies are leaving them at a huge disadvantage to European competitors.

Discussing that story - and others - for the BBC's News Channel, Tim Stanley, leader writer for the Daily Telegraph, agreed that green taxes were "crazy" and have "got to go".

He said "the real problem in this country is supply" and production, from nuclear in particular, must increase - but environmental taxes were "killing" any prospect of that.

Journalist Rachel Shabi disagreed vehemently and said energy bills in the UK were 50% higher than in Europe, but "you can't possibly blame that on the green levy - a tiny, tiny levy."

She said the real problem was that "a cabal of six energy companies" are "profiteering at our expense".

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Protest movements

Protests in Bangkok and Kiev
Anti-government protesters sit outside the police headquarters in Bangkok, and below, clashes between demonstrators and riot police in Kiev

Trouble on the streets of two capitals - Bangkok and Kiev - features in many of the papers.

"It's not very often that the European Union starts a riot," but that's what's happening in Ukraine, the Guardian reports. But, it says, for the hundreds of thousands on the streets, the EU - or more specifically a key trade deal from which the government has pulled back - "is worth fighting for".

The Independent's leader says the demonstrations in Thailand are "a symptom of a deeper malaise in the country". It goes on: "The country has become extraordinarily polarised, rich against poor and town against country."

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Cameron's "cronyism"?

Several papers are unimpressed with David Cameron's choice of travelling companions on his trip to China this week.

The Daily Mail says he is going with "a rum old bunch", including his father-in-law Viscount Astor, retired footballer Graeme Le Saux and the man who brought Big Brother to the UK, Sir Peter Bazalgette. But the paper is more concerned that "we are in danger of adopting too humble and unquestioning approach" to China by focusing on trade not human rights.

The Daily Mirror goes further, saying the PM is "guilty of double standards after lecturing Sri Lanka then allowing himself to be cowed into silence" by China. It adds: "His unwavering principles are available to the highest bidder."

Jamil Anderlini, writing in the Financial Times, says London is trying "too hard to please Beijing". He says sticking to the previous tough stance on the Dalai Lama and Tibet would be more effective as "abandoning the defence of universal values in the hopes of more market access or better political relations is an even less effective way of earning the respect of China's leaders".

The Daily Telegraph's leader column says "it is unfortunate that David Cameron's choice of guests threatens to overshadow his good intentions in China." But in general the paper is more optimistic about the trip: "The more China opens up to the world, the more its leadership may realise that democracy and development go hand-in-hand."

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Paul Scholes, Phil Neville, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt, David Beckham and Gary Neville at the premiere of The Class of 92
Manchester Re-United: The papers have pictures from the premiere of The Class of 92, a film about the rise of a generation of Old Trafford greats
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Tributes and narrow escapes

"Saved by pub door" - that's the headline in the Daily Star atop Monday's helicopter crash coverage. It has spoken to two sisters, Ann Faulds and Nancy Primrose, who believe a heavy concrete lintel was all that prevented them being crushed.

The Daily Mirror has another tale of narrow escape - Craig Bain says he was sitting right next to a man in the pub who was killed when the helicopter smashed through the ceiling.

Mr Bain revisited the Clutha pub on Sunday upon his release from hospital and the Times says many other Glaswegians did the same. "Some injured, lots crying, all shocked. Some knew those who had been inside, but most did not and only wanted to show that they cared," it writes.

Elsewhere, the Independent has a comment piece, written by Julian Baggini, who says the focus of the inquiry should not be "the precise mechanical causes" of the crash, but instead whether there is "a pressing need to have choppers above homes and businesses" at all. He argues : "It is not silly to take seriously many risks that look low in stark numerical terms. If there are affordable, easy steps to avoid or reduce threats to life it would be mad not to take them."

Vigil for helicopter crash victims
Many papers have pictures from a special church service which was held in Glasgow on Sunday for the crash victims
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"Buying frenzy"

We've had Black Friday and now it's time for Cyber Monday - "the day when Britons start shopping online in earnest for Christmas," says the Daily Express.

The Sun describes the "menace" of online shopping which is forcing "desperate" High Street shops to slash their prices by up to 50%.

But the Guardian says Black Friday saw record takings at UK stores, including John Lewis, which saw "thousands of orders coming in the middle of the night from customers who preferred shopping to sleeping". "The buying frenzy is expected to move up another notch" today, the paper adds.

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Fluffy dog story

Lola
Her name was Lola....

Chancellor George Osborne has introduced the newest member of his family via Twitter - Lola.

"Dog and owner share a doleful expression and engaging dark eyes," write David Brown and Michael Savage, rather romantically, in the Times.

The Daily Mirror, however, sees a dark motive behind the move, believing that "parading his pampered pedigree puppy smacks of an unpopular chancellor spinning a softer image". It adds: "He should remember a dog is for life and not just this week's Autumn financial statement."

The Daily Mail is more charitable, but has a warning for Lola - watch out for "feisty Freya", No 11's "vicious cat". The paper says she attacked Larry - the prime minister's pet - "in an early morning fight". The Mail says cats have reigned supreme in Downing Street for decades, with Lola believed to be the first dog to move in since Harold Wilson brought his Labrador Paddy with him in the 1960s.

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Making people click

What's top of Most Viewed on the newspaper websites:

Independent - Forced C-section was 'the stuff of nightmares'

Guardian - Fast and Furious star Paul Walker killed in car crash

Times - 'No safety for women under the law in Pakistan, none'

Telegraph - Child taken from womb by social services