Wild weather and Only Fools return in newspapers
- 4 January 2014
Narrow escapes from huge waves feature on several front pages on Saturday.
Elsewhere, the Sun says it can exclusively reveal that much-loved sitcom Only Fools and Horses is to return with new episodes "within months".
And a number of papers lead with NHS stories, including the cost of long-term illnesses, such as diabetes and dementia, in the Guardian.
Discussing the papers for the BBC's News Channel, freelance Parliamentary reporter Rob Merrick says Vince Cable appears to have "gone nuclear" in the Daily Telegraph, warning of the "worrying" rise in house prices following the introduction of the Help to Buy scheme.
He says the business secretary has told the paper "the government is repeating the mistakes of Gordon Brown, which is about as damning a thing as you can say about any government in Conservative eyes".
Alison Phillips, weekend editor of the Daily Mirror, says the Help to Buy scheme is "a bit of a quick fix" aimed at "all those house owners who voted Conservative at the last election and may wish to vote Conservative again at the next election if they can see a little bit of an increase in prices".
The Sun says Ronnie Biggs, whose funeral was held on Friday, "got the last laugh by having a brass band play the raucous show tune The Stripper as his coffin was cremated".
"Some of the country's best-known villains turned up or passed on their respects," reports the Daily Star. Indeed, says the Daily Express, "Golders Green Crematorium looked like a set from a Guy Ritchie movie, strewn with hard-looking men in sunglasses".
The Daily Mail's Robert Hardman, who was at the service, describes the "smattering of celebrities from showbusiness and the criminocracy", but wonders how many actually knew Biggs. One example he cites is "drug smuggler-turned author" Howard Marks, who "saluted 'a man of great nobility' while admitting he had never actually met Biggs in person".
Finally, the Guardian's Duncan Campbell quotes the words of the man leading the service: "'This is,' said Rev Dave Tomlinson, with priestly understatement, 'unlike any funeral I've ever taken.'"
'Morally and financially'
Not a shred of sympathy can be found for the now bankrupt leader of the British National Party, Nick Griffin. Especially when the response of the party's press officer was to suggest his boss was still better off than Michael Schumacher - currently in a coma after a skiing accident.
"You'd need a heart of stone not to chuckle" at his financial woes, says the Sun's leader, although it feels Mr Griffin is "having the last laugh - all the way to the bank - on his fat Euro MP's salary". On the subject of Schumacher, the paper adds: "Griffin is bankrupt alright. Morally, intellectually and now financially."
Exactly the same sentiment in the Daily Mirror, which says his "finances are now officially like his morals". It says he may have tried to "shake off his latest humiliation... but the truth is... the foul BNP is now dying under his leadership".
The Times says the Schumacher remarks "ruined Mr Griffin's attempts to turn news of the bankruptcy to his favour". He had tried to light-heartedly say he was using the experience to write a booklet on dealing with debt.
"Mr Griffin is the bankrupt leader of a bankrupt movement, while the BNP is a political spittoon," and despite predictions of "an extreme-right breakthrough" in tough economic times, no such lurch has happened, writes the Guardian.
Several commentators express their unhappiness at Southampton's attempts to pursue a complaint against referee Mark Clattenburg for reportedly telling captain Adam Lallana he had "changed" since playing for England.
Fellow referee Mark Halsey, writing in the Sun, says that if officials "aren't allowed to use industrial language in the heat of the moment, then the same has to apply to the players". Cracking down on the latter "would mean referees easily issuing at least 10 red cards a game".
"Players dish it out to referees all the time, but they are extremely sensitive when an official snaps back," agrees Matt Dickinson, in the Times.
Former player Martin Keown tells the Daily Mail Clattenburg "might have an annoying style of refereeing, but you just have to put that to one side". He says the row could have been settled in private.
Elsewhere, Paul Hayward, in the Daily Telegraph, thinks the incident is further evidence of the need to record and publish everything that footballers say to referees during a game. He says there is a pressing need "to prevent clubs, managers and players piling psychological pressure on referees".
Perhaps in part searching for a different angle on yet another day of bad weather coverage, a number of papers focus on the actions - often foolish as they see them - of the public in the face of extreme conditions.
None of the myriad images used to illustrate this is as "chilling" as that of a father taking his young daughter to see the huge waves in a Cornwall harbour, says the Daily Mirror. "You do not have to be a parent to be sickened by his stupidity," its leader comments.
"The emergency services said that weather watchers who were ignoring warnings to avoid coastal areas during the violent storm surges had been told that they were putting their rescuers at risk," the Times reports.
Nevertheless, "appeals to the public not to walk on coastal paths and promenades and near flood water" failed to register with everyone, adds the Guardian.
The Independent is one of a number of papers to report on plans by the government to cut more than 1,600 posts at the Environment Agency. It says it is under pressure to put the plans on hold amid fears "that George Osborne's austerity drive would undermine work on shorting up coastlines and riverbanks".
Despite all the misery though, the Financial Times says insurers expect the cost of the damage so far to be "relatively small". "Few analysts expect the bill from the storms that have already struck to come in higher than a few hundred million pounds, well below the £3.3bn hit to insurers from flood damage in 2007."
Best of the rest
The Daily Mail is foaming at the "shameless" GPs it says are earning nearly £1,500 a shift to fill in at overstretched A&E departments. "They are creating a problem by not working out-of-hours - then profiting handsomely from it," the paper's leader writes.
The Independent says the Conservatives must introduce all-women shortlists after it emerged that fewer than one in three of its prospective parliamentary candidates so far announced are female. "There is simply no other effective way to achieve the one-off increase in women's representation that allows equality of respect between the sexes."
The Daily Express welcomes news of a crackdown on "beds in sheds" - substandard accommodation thrown up in back gardens to house migrant labour. "An invisible population lurks in a re-creation of the slum-dwelling that most of us hoped had disappeared for good half a century ago," it writes.
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