UK growth, Commonwealth Games 'gold rush' and Fifty Shades of 'Wahey'
- 25 July 2014
Positive headlines about the economy make the front pages of some papers, with the Times declaring: "Britain's... recovery is leaving the rest of the developed world in its wake.".
The Daily Telegraph calls an International Monetary Fund (IMF) decision to upgrade the UK's growth forecast "a vindication of George Osborne's economic plan".
That sentiment is echoed by the Daily Express's editorial. "George Osborne deserves credit for sticking to his guns on the economy in the face of concerted opposition not least from the IMF, which as recently as a year ago told him that his austerity measures amounted to 'playing with fire'," it says.
That said, Mr Osborne "shouldn't forget the sacrifices made by millions of families to get us back on track", says the Daily Mail. It wonders: "Is it too much to hope that he might now show his gratitude by handing them some much-needed tax cuts?"
However, there are words of caution in some papers. The Financial Times says appetite for consumer spending "seems to be moderating", quoting one economist of the opinion that "there is a vague whiff about the data at the moment that suggests the pace of growth is easing back as we enter the second half of the year".
Likewise, the Guardian says Mr Osborne should avoid celebrating too much given that "over a full seven years the economy advanced not one jot", adding: "The population has grown considerably since 2008, so the newly restored economic pie now has to be divvied up between many more mouths. That leaves a smaller sliver for each."
The Sun's editorial describes this as a "straw to clutch" for Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls: "He says growth is not evenly spread. Some are missing out. For once, he's got a point - and Chancellor George Osborne knows it." However, it adds: "Be honest. Would we be in as good a position under Labour? No, we wouldn't."
The home nations enjoyed a successful opening day at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow but it was the monarch who stole the show for many of the papers.
The Daily Mirror renames the Queen "photobombER" after she appeared smiling in the background of a selfie taken by Australian hockey players Jayde Taylor and Brooke Peris. It was, says the paper, a "game of phones".
However, the Mail suggests the Queen might not have been quite so happy with her view of events at Tollcross Swimming Centre given she was positioned behind her lady-in-waiting, Dame Annabel Whitehead, and her impressive headwear. "Off with her hat!" orders its headline, adding that her friend "had made matters worse by having chosen a very similar shade of green in which to dress".
The Guardian's Esther Addley was among those enjoying the action. "Glasgow's Commonwealth Games went off with a bang, a beep and plenty of roars yesterday, with England and Scotland making their marks on the medals table," she writes.
"What had been hailed as Thunder Thursday - the day when Scots medal success would ignite Glasgow 2014 in a fervour of patriotic sporting success - came triumphantly true in the evening session of the opening day," says the Independent's Jonathan Brown, recounting judo golds for Kimberley and Louise Renicks followed by the same in the pool for Hannah Miley and Ross Murdoch.
"Our ancestors chose their colonies wisely," reckons the Telegraph's Michael Deacon. "No Russia, no China, no Germany, and not enough of America for it to count as solely ours," he writes, "meaning that, a century or two later, the home nations can all feel confident of success at the Commonwealth Games. No doubt this was exactly what Elizabeth, Victoria and co had in mind."
Even animals are enjoying the experience, suggests the Times. It catches up with the owner of Archie Clegg, one of 41 Scottie dogs to "steal the show" during the opening ceremony by leading out the teams during the parade of nations. "Archie loves people so when he saw all those women dancing in the middle of the stadium he was in Scottie heaven," his owner tells the paper.
Another star of the opening night wasn't having such good fortune, however. The Sun reports that Sir Chris Hoy was initially barred from entering the Games cycling arena named in his honour. "A security worker asked to see Britain's most successful Olympian's ID," it says, adding that - when the woman realised who he was - she said: "My mum's going to kill me!"
Photographs of the aftermath of an Israeli strike on a UN building in Gaza appear in many papers, with the headline to the Independent's front-page picture remarking: "Not even a UN school is safe."
Inside, Kim Sengupta describes recent victims of the Israeli assault, including "a mother and child, a school full of refugees [and] a doctor's home", and says it has put Israel's targeting policy under scrutiny. One woman, whose 10-month-old daughter was wounded, tells him: "We started walking with a white flag when the tanks fired and my baby was hurt."
The Sun's editorial says: "A baby with shrapnel wounds. Kids soaked in blood. Another 15 civilians dead. You do not need to be anti-Israeli to be horrified at the latest casualties at a UN school in Gaza." It adds "Gaza's people are the helpless victims of terrorist psychopaths on their own side and a lack of humanity on the other."
However, Col Richard Kemp argues in the Times: "The Israelis use the most sophisticated and comprehensive means of avoiding civilian casualties yet employed by any army in the world. Multilayer surveillance systems confirm whether there are civilians in the target area; triple-lock authorisation is required for every strike; phone calls, leaflet drops, radio messages and harmless explosive charges warn civilians to leave."
A former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, he writes: "The tragedy of so many civilian casualties is to a large extent due to [Gaza's rulers] Hamas's policy of compelling men, women and children to stay in the path of danger." Times cartoonist Peter Brookes imagines a sign at a Gaza hospital directing people to "wards 3,4", "minor operations" and - above a Hamas fighter kneeling over a rocket launcher - "military operations".
The Telegraph's David Blair describes the scene at Gaza's eastern border, where families have fled after being warned by Israel they should vacate their properties. "Once teeming streets lie silent and deserted. Every shop is closed and shuttered, no traffic dares to move and flat-roofed homes stand empty," he writes.
However, Harriet Sherwood writes in the Guardian that plenty of people feel unable to move: "Many said nowhere in Gaza was safe, so they saw little point in abandoning their homes. Others were simply too terrified to go out on the streets. Many media reports said there was no evidence of coercion by Hamas."
'Sexy as meatloaf'
The Sun can't hide its excitement about a teaser for the film version of EL James's "raunchy" novel Fifty Shades of Grey. "A willing student is stripped, blindfolded, tied up and teased with a riding crop by a bondage-loving billionaire in the red-hot trailer," it froths, declaring the two-and-a-half minute taster to be "50 Shades of Wahey".
"It's fair to say they will whip up a frenzy for the main event," agrees the Daily Star in its editorial.
However, the Daily Mail's Jan Moir is less keen. "There is no spanking to speak of, barely any bare, the merest whisper of a thrashing and only a snip of whip," she complains. Still, she adds: "Whatever happens, surely this Hollywood adaptation cannot be as bad as the books."
Likewise, the Telegraph's Robbie Collin found it "as arousing as week-old meat loaf". "Having now watched the thing five times over, I'm still not entirely sure which the sexy bits are supposed to be."
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