Minimum wage debate, 'Bonjour Trigger' and Bernie Ecclestone in the pits

Chancellor George Osborne's suggestion that he would like to see the minimum wage rise features on most front pages.

The Sun declares it "the right call", while the Times also comes out in favour, saying: "A small increase in the minimum wage will pay for itself and there is no better welfare policy than better pay."

However, the Financial Times finds businesses fretting that political pressure for an above-inflation hike could prove "quite dangerous" if not matched by higher productivity.

The Daily Mirror, on the other hand, complains that it's still not a "living wage" and its leader column brands it the "wages of spin". It adds: "Let's not be fooled into believing Mr Osborne gets out of bed in the morning to help the working poor."

Reviewing the papers for the BBC News Channel, businesswoman Shazia Awan said the political desire for an increase was understandable but added: "As a business owner, you have to think 'Will a rise in the minimum wage mean that I may have to lose people that have worked for me a long time?'"

Guardian deputy editor Paul Johnson added that the chancellor had outflanked Labour on the day of leader Ed Miliband's latest "cost of living crisis" speech: "It just shows you the power you have when you are in government."

Fighting talk

Comments from the former US defence secretary Robert Gates that military cuts could result in the UK no longer being a "full partner" to America provoke debate in the press.

The Daily Telegraph shares his concerns, arguing: "Britain needs a strong defence. Weakness reduces our global power and leaves us impotent when it comes to challenges from abroad. Freedom at home is dependent on us being able to protect ourselves against external threats."

However, the Guardian's Simon Jenkins says: "Not since the end of the cold war has there been a sensible threat to Britain. The defence lobby has cleverly converted criminal deeds by terrorists into threats to 'national security'. This is lobbying talk, not reality."

Mary Dejevsky, in the Independent, says the UK "should live, and fight, within its means... [The government] should not have to pretend otherwise in the vain hope of keeping the Pentagon sweet".

The Times agrees, but only if the armed forces are better run: "As long as it is better organised, more modern and more efficient than ever, a shrinking defence force is an acceptable outcome of austerity. A shrinking and incompetent one is not."

The cartoonists give their take. Steve Bell, in the Guardian, depicts the UK as a small dog on Uncle Sam's leash, while the Times's Peter Brookes pictures a tiny David Cameron in colonial military uniform, clinging to Uncle Sam's coat tails.

Mr Cameron, George Osborne and Defence Secretary Philip Hammond are sketched by the Independent's Dave Brown marching to war behind Uncle Sam, armed with an umbrella, a broom and a set of golf clubs.

'So long, Dave'

A measure of the affection the British public held for Roger Lloyd Pack's Only Fools and Horses character is demonstrated by the actor's death making the front page of the Sun. "Bonjour Trigger," the paper says, borrowing a line from his on-screen pal, Del Boy, before declaring TV has "lost a gem".

Alison Boshoff, in the Daily Mail, remembers "the brilliant fool who dreamt of playing King Lear", while the paper's Richard Littlejohn reckons Lloyd Pack "stole every scene he appeared in".

Like many papers the Daily Telegraph prints some of his best quotations in a "world according to Trigger". Among them is Del remembering his youth football team: "We had Denzil in goal, we had Monkey Harris at right-back, we had... we had camaraderie." Trigger's reply: "Was that the Italian boy?"

The Telegraph recalls how Lloyd Pack found Trigger "like an albatross in one way", with strangers assuming the actor was thick. "I'll never escape Trigger, I've learned to live with that," he once said. On the contrary, Dan Carrier's view in the Independent is of "a wise , cultured, politically aware figure - and my mate". He describes him as an "old-school" left-winger with whom he "played cards into the night, drank fine wine and listened to jazz, rock 'n' roll and gabbered on about political philosophy".

The Guardian notes Lloyd Pack "was immensely popular, and his enthusiasms for cricket (he was a member of the MCC), Tottenham Hotspur and (until recently) the Labour party defined, to a large extent, his attitude to work". Still, the Daily Express remembers Lloyd Pack worrying more about global inequality than acting, with the comment: "It's a silly job in a way... It's just dressing up, playing at being someone else. It's rather lovely too but it's hardly life and death."

Brit awards?

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"Slavery, space and scams," is how the Guardian sums up this year's Oscar nominations. Its film critic Peter Bradshaw declares 12 Years a Slave "far and away the best film" on the nomination list but says it's "far from a shoo-in" for the honours he feels it deserves.

The Daily Mail speculates that it could be Dame Judi Dench's turn to "put years of disappointment behind her at the fifth attempt" but notes she'll have to beat off competition from three-times Academy Award-winner Meryl Streep.

Kate Muir, in the Times2 section, spells out "10 things we learnt about the Oscars", including that "hedonism is hot" - thanks to The Wolf of Wall Street - and that 40 is the new 20, given all-but-one Best Actress nominees are aged over 40.

Geoffrey McNab, in the Independent, takes a punt at naming the winners, while giving his view on who "should" win. But the paper's editorial declares an early victory for Britain, saying: "This year's Oscars are a success story for our film industry."

In the pits

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Formula One motor racing finds itself on the news pages, with the Guardian reporting that "pit lane dictator" Bernie Ecclestone has relinquished full control of the sport's holding company as he prepares to fight bribery charges in Germany.

"Ecclestone's authority was absolute, built up by longevity, myth-making and most of all an unrivalled talent for cutting deals," says the Guardian's Paul Weaver. "Now his powers have been neutered, he can never be the same, and nor can the sport."

"Bernie hits skids," is how the Daily Mail puts it, while the Independent asks: "Can Ecclestone survive latest blow to F1 rule?" Its Q&A explains the intricacies of the financial disputes within the sport.

The Daily Express draws an honest admission from the man himself that: "I don't think I could operate [the sport] that well from a German prison," but declares the 83-year-old "not ready to be written off".

Despite that, the Times finds "all the signposts directing him towards F1 exit" and speculates as to who will be next in line. It says ex-Mercedes boss Ross Brawn - the bookies' favourite - "probably has as much chance as Jeremy Clarkson, the Top Gear presenter, who comes in at 500-1", and that Ecclestone's chosen successor, Red Bull boss Christian Horner, would be vetoed by Ferrari.

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