'Licence to teach' plan and new cities - newspaper review

News that teachers will need a licence to work under a future Labour government is the lead in Saturday's Times.

Among a mixed bag of front pages, the Daily Telegraph reveals what it calls "a secret Whitehall report" recommending the creation of two new cities in southern England.

Elsewhere, it's the NHS for both the i and the Daily Mail - the former has an interview with shadow health secretary Andy Burnham, while the latter claims watchdog NICE is spending taxpayers' money on champagne.

Finally, father-of-22 Raymond Hull appears on the fronts of both the Sun and the Daily Mirror.

It's a snip

Alistair Burt

After David Cameron's barber - who charges the PM £90 a time apparently - received an MBE, the Independent delves into the world of Commons cuts. The paper says there has been "a bizarre race to the bottom" among politicians trying to prove they pay the least.

Of those it probed, Labour's Jim Sheridan, who pays just £5, says: "It is important that you can trust your barber as he has some dangerous tools around him/her." Meanwhile, the follicly-challenged - but good humoured - Conservative, Alistair Burt, above, replied to the enquiry: "Are you having a laugh!?"

Discussing the papers for the BBC News Channel, Neil Midgley, the Daily Telegraph's media writer, said the Guardian uses the words "crisis" and "timebomb" in quotes on its front page to headline a story about buy-to-let landlords refusing to accept tenants on housing benefit when universal credit comes into operation.

But he says he can find neither word in any of the quotes in the story itself, adding: "It does seem to me to be one of those 'things to be scared of' stories that aren't necessarily going to come true."

Entrepreneur Scott Fletcher said: "It could be one of those stories that sets alarm bells ringing, or maybe there's something in it - that we do need to be careful about the way it's rolled out."

He said he was "torn" about the idea, suggested by landlords in the story, that housing benefit should be paid directly to them, adding: "I think on the one hand people should take responsibility for their own money... but if this leads to private landlords pulling out of this sector.... this will just exacerbate the [housing] problem."

line break
Jessica Ennis-Hill and husband Andy Hill in 2012 "Run in the oven", "Jess's long bump"... the pun-writers have fun with news of Jessica Ennis-Hill's pregnancy
line break
'President Normal'

The papers fall over themselves to find the sexiest, most thinly-clad image they can find of Francois Hollande's alleged mistress, Julie Gayet.

Beneath one of those aforementioned images, the Daily Telegraph describes Ms Gayet as a "left-wing actress with a rock'n'roll personality".

"Monsieur Normal finds himself in ever more abnormal predicaments," says the Financial Times' leader, but it thinks he shouldn't worry because "a penchant for paradox is part of the French philosophical tradition - and of the personal lives of Fifth Republic presidents."

Julie Gayet and Francois Hollande Julie Gayet once appeared in one of Francois Hollande's election campaign adverts

Moreover, says the Guardian, the revelations actually brought Mr Hollande "a rare moment of support and sympathy from across the political spectrum," with even Front National leader Marine Le Pen expressing shock at the invasion of his privacy.

But the Times thinks the supposed affair "raises serious questions about his judgement" - given the "logistics" involved. It adds: "For the man who controls France's nuclear deterrent to be scootered across Paris essentially incognito, and ushered into an apartment building by a single security officer, is a scandal in itself."

The Sun agrees, saying that "with their economy in ruins" French people "might reasonably now ask how much time Francois Hollande is spending on the job".

But taking the opposite position entirely - and giving a somewhat Gallic shrug about the whole thing - the Independent says that if true, "Francois Hollande has finally become the 'normal' president he said he'd be in his election campaign"- following, as he does, in the footsteps of predecessors Francois Mitterand and Jacques Chirac in conducting affairs.

line break
Crewmember Yuri Teller kisses his daughter as he returns home on HMS Illustrious An Illustrious scene: Joyful reunions feature widely as the Royal Navy ship returns to the UK
line break
Referendum rumblings

Most admired

Bill Gates

The Times has done a survey of the most admired people around the world. Microsoft founder Bill Gates comes top overall, while the Queen wins in the UK. "Half of the top 10 most admired in Russia are women," it notes. And "in only two countries of the 13 surveyed did no local politicians make it into the top ten - Australia and the UK".

Here's the top five worldwide:

  1. Bill Gates
  2. Barack Obama
  3. Vladimir Putin
  4. Pope Francis
  5. Sachin Tendulkar

There's considerable anger in some papers after the government's EU referendum bill cleared its first hurdle in the House of Lords.

That ire is largely directed at Labour peers who opposed the bill, and in the Sun's case, at Lord Mandelson in particular, whom it accuses of treating the British public with "breathtaking contempt". It says he would rather not give voters a say "in case the public disagrees with his personal position", adding: "Do not mistake this for principle. If Britain was fond of Europe, Mandelson would want a vote this afternoon."

"Contempt" is also the word of choice in the Daily Express for what it calls "the anti-democratic effort to stop the British people having an in/out referendum on the EU".

"The drawling, patronising Europhiles intend to fight and fight dirty," writes Quentin Letts, in the Daily Mail. "They hate the idea of giving hoi polloi their say. They may well block this bill."

The Daily Telegraph reserves some of its anger for the BBC, and Today programme presenter Evan Davis specifically, accusing him of giving Lord Mandelson "an easy ride" over the issue on Friday's show.

line break
Asma al-Assad, wife of the Syrian president, visits a school in Damascus Out and about: Some papers show the British-born wife of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visiting schoolchildren in Damascus
line break
Plebgate admission

Following the admission by a police officer that he lied about witnessing the plebgate incident, several papers suggest it is now Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe who is under pressure.

The Daily Mail says he was forced to make "an embarrassing climbdown" after initially saying he was "100% behind" the officers who gave an account, but now having to make a full apology.

The Guardian says the officer concerned, PC Keith Wallis, now faces jail but his barrister has said "that to understand the plea it is important to take into account the psychiatric state Wallis 'is in now and has been in for many months'".

Graeme Archer, in the Daily Telegraph, takes a very broad view of this and other incidents and asks: "Is it any wonder that middle-class trust in the police has dwindled?" He goes on: "You've lost our instinctive support because of what you did to Jean-Charles de Menezes. And to Ian Tomlinson. And, yes, because of plebgate. Because, that is, of the repeated lies."

line break
Extreme examples?

"And so here we have him - gift-wrapped specially for Cameron and his cronies - scumbag Raymond Hull. In the week that Osborne announce another £12 billion of benefit cuts, [father-of-22] Hull is the perfect poster boy for their ideological attack on welfare," writes Alison Philips, in the Daily Mirror. But she adds: "Don't be fooled into thinking Hull represents a huge swathe of society. The reason his face was blasted across national papers yesterday was that he is unusual. Thank God."

Teachers' MOT

Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt

"Courageous and correct" - that's the Times' verdict on Labour's plan to make teachers undertake regular external assessments in order to remain licensed. Until now it says, "Labour has largely been content to support the teaching unions resistance towards anything and everything Michael Gove proposes".

Now though, shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt has his own "excellent idea". The paper's leader column adds: "As with many such ideas, the surprise is first that it is not already in operation, and second that putting it into operation should be in any way controversial."

The Daily Express, however, does exactly what Ms Phillips doesn't want. Political commentator Stephen Pollard says "the dependency culture created by a welfare state that treats benefits as its entitlement has found its most hideous expression in Raymond Hull". Hull may be "an extreme example", he adds, but his situation "is a form of uniquely modern squalor".

The Sun, too, has not followed the Mirror's advice. "Roll on welfare reform," its leader says, arguing that "in the last 20 years, the system has allowed a minority, driven solely by pleasure and greed, to abdicate all responsibility for their behaviour".

Elsewhere, in related matters, the row over Channel 4's Benefits Street continues. The Daily Star says it has become "a no-go zone after locals threatened to attack outsiders for branding them dossers".

The Guardian reports that by Friday, "almost 1,000 people had complained to the broadcasting regulator Ofcom, most claiming that the programme gave a misleading impression of people on benefit and incited hatred."

line break
Making people click

Independent - Polar vortex: Best photos of US 'big freeze'

Daily Telegraph - No-one owns the moon says scientist

Daily Mail - 'He's still screaming for his babies': Father's horror as he returns home to find 'wife had murdered their sons and then killed herself'

Daily Mirror - Beached giant squid picture that went viral is deemed a HOAX

Financial Times - Rafa Nadal: Mind game

line break

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.