Lib Dem 'meltdown', 1D fears and the formula for England World Cup success

  • 29 May 2014

Another day, another set of miserable headlines for the Liberal Democrats.

"Meltdown," is how the Daily Mail describes the situation within the party, after its former Treasury spokesman Lord Oakeshott quit in the wake of revelations he commissioned polls that were later used to damage leader Nick Clegg.

The peer's long-time friend, Business Secretary Vince Cable, knew about the surveys, according to papers including the Independent. But the Daily Mail describes "how Cable's chum knifed Clegg (and Vince too!)", translating what Lord Oakeshott said into "what he meant" - including that by resigning he was "jumping, rather than being pushed".

Other papers, such as the Guardian, profile the "arch manipulator" who - little known outside Westminster - has been a key figure in the party since being a founder member of the SDP in 1981. It hears from one former adviser to Mr Clegg, who says: "He is someone who has genuine love for the party, but often the plotting seemed to be the thing he enjoyed more."

"Few Liberal Democrat ministers will miss him," reckons the Daily Telegraph, noting his long-standing opposition to Mr Clegg.

The Daily Mirror already has the book open on who will replace the deputy prime minister as party leader, profiling "inexperienced" favourite Tim Farron, the broad appeal of Energy Secretary Ed Davey and "too nice" Health Minister Norman Lamb.

And while the Sun finds the party's "implosion" entertaining, it has some pity for Mr Clegg, saying: "In 2010 he made it possible for Britain to turn its economy around."

The cartoonists take inspiration from the day's other news stories, with Peter Brookes in the Times sketching Messrs Clegg and Cable heading over a cliff edge in Google's new driverless car. "No steering, no accelerator, no driver, no chance," grumbles the business secretary.

Similarly, the Telegraph's Adams has the pair - with Lord Oakeshott - fighting each other in a car careering towards a wall, under the title: "One Direction."

Still, the Independent's Donald MacIntyre finds Mr Clegg "rather chipper" in his sketch, concluding that Lord Oakeshott's departure and Mr Cable's public backing mean the leader is "probably safer than he was 48 hours ago".

Meanwhile, i editor Oliver Duff reminds readers: "Judas's betrayal did lead to Jesus's crucifixion, resurrection and the salvation of humanity," before adding: "That may be asking too much of Mr Clegg. Or Lord Oakeshott..."

Wrong direction?

Reaction to a video published by the Daily Mail of One Direction's Louis Tomlinson and Zayn Malik smoking what they referred to as a "joint" features in many papers.

The Daily Star suggests some teenagers have been tempted to copy the stars. However, the Daily Mail says there's been a "backlash", with parents criticising the hitherto squeaky-clean boyband and one fan pictured apparently burning her gig ticket. The paper publishes a photo spread showing the group's "downward direction", which features band members "carousing", posing for vulgar pictures and reportedly having "creative differences".

However, there is sympathy from Sun showbiz writer Dan Wootton who says it's "part of the rollercoaster of growing up in the public eye". He adds: "These five very nice young lads, who in theory have the means to do whatever they want, can actually do very little."

Tomlinson's estranged father tells the Daily Mirror he's worried that fame is taking its toll on the band. "Everyone is concerned it could lead to other things," he says.

Not everyone is convinced it's the start of a big problem, however. James Lachno, in the Daily Telegraph, writes: "Why are we still surprised when post-pubescent boyband members... attempt to assert their right to adulthood?"

Author and music writer Tony Parsons watches the video, only to conclude in the Sun: "Drug shame? More like total embarrassment." In any case, writes the Guardian's Dave Simpson, the smoke and rain - drenching their gig at Sunderland's Stadium of Light - "can't mask 1D's appeal".

Personal tributes

Papers mark the death of American author and poet Maya Angelou, with the Times noting that during her lifetime she was "variously a journalist, editor, dancer, actress, civil-rights campaigner, prostitute, madam and university professor".

"She was principally famous, however, for I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, a memoir of her dirt-poor upbringing in Arkansas," says the Daily Telegraph's obituary, noting that the book "described a world completely alien to its mainly white, metropolitan readership".

Raped by her mother's boyfriend, she became a voluntary mute for five years after he was kicked to death following Angelou's identification of him as her attacker, the paper recalls. However, as the Guardian's Gary Younge writes, she became "a woman determined to give voice to both frustration and a militancy without being so consumed by either that she could not connect with those who did not instinctively relate to it".

Another with personal experience, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, writes in the Daily Mail of her first meeting with Angelou - "just after my ex-husband had left me and I was feeling fragile and alone" - and how the writer had invited her to her birthday party shortly afterwards. "There she recited one of her most popular poems, Still I Rise, looked at me and smiled. It was a poem celebrating the strength of women, who will not be beaten down," she says.

Angelou's friend, the editor Margaret Busby, writes in the Independent: "The experiences she survived were painful enough to have engendered permanent bitterness or self-pity in most, yet Maya exuded positivity and a celebration of life."

Go on, my sum

Much excitement is generated by Prof Stephen Hawking's formula for the England football team's success at this summer's World Cup in Brazil.

The Daily Mirror renames the mathematician and physicist "Stevie Genius" - a twist on the nickname of skipper Steven Gerrard - as it explains how his theory takes into account variables including the team formation, climate, altitude, kit colour and hair colour of players.

However, as the Times points out: "Contrary to tabloid speculation, there is no Wag coefficient." Whether the players take their wives and girlfriends will have no bearing on results, the academic reckons.

The Sun describes the theory as a "Brief History of Extra Time" - a play on the title of Hawking's book about the origins of the universe - and says that if wearing the professor's recommended red shirt isn't working for Roy Hodgson's men, they'd best hope for a European ref who Hawking reckons will be less tolerant of "ballerinas like Luis Suarez".

The Uruguayan's Liverpool strike partner Daniel Sturridge is likely to outscore Wayne Rooney, Hawking says, with the Express reporting him as saying: "You don't need to be a great mathematician to work this out. If you look at goals per minute in this year's Premier League, Sturridge scores once every 108 minutes compared to Rooney's once every 144 minutes." However, it's Everton's Leighton Baines and Southampton Ricky Lambert who are to be relied upon in the inevitable penalty shootout, provided they follow his workings on the perfect run-up, the paper adds.

In printing the relevant formulae, the Express rather uncharitably suggests Rooney "might struggle to get his head round" the maths. "Surely manager Roy Hodgson can find room on his staff for a scientific genius as assistant coach," it adds.

Telegraph: Indian court asked to rule on whether Hindu guru dead or meditating

Guardian: Rupert Murdoch paper prints picture of Duchess of Cambridge's bare bottom

Times: Underwater pings 'did not come from MH370'

Metro: Heavy metal birthday: Christopher Lee marks turning 92 with mini-album