Carswell UKIP defection, Pitt-Jolie wedding and Bake Off 'whobunnit' in headlines
- 29 August 2014
It was a political defection that seemed to catch everyone by surprise.
But Douglas Carswell, former Conservative MP for Clacton in Essex, had been in "constant talks" with UKIP leader Nigel Farage for more than a year before joining his party, according to the Daily Mail's Andrew Pierce. Yet the news came as a shock to the Conservatives - to the extent that only that morning they'd invited donors to a drinks reception with Mr Carswell at campaign HQ, he writes.
As the Daily Express points out, it was a bad day for the Tories with news of the defection coming as the latest figures showed a jump in the number of migrants arriving in the UK. The Financial Times declares that PM David Cameron's target to cut UK immigration to "tens of thousands" in time for next year's general election is now "out of reach", thanks to an influx of citizens from countries such as Italy, Romania and Bulgaria, attracted by the UK's economic recovery.
The Mail suggests another eight Conservative MPs could follow Mr Carswell's example after being "wined and dined" by UKIP donor Stuart Wheeler, with the Independent listing the likely candidates to follow suit. It names outspoken backbenchers such as Nadine Dorries, Peter Bone and Michael Fabricant. Meanwhile, in the Sun, the UKIP leader claims that Labour MPs will also join his cause.
Mr Carswell is described by the Telegraph as a "rare maverick who, rather than climb the greasy pole, took an axe to it", while the Financial Times quotes his wisdom on topics such as the Tory manifesto, how the UK is run and "Europhile Little Englanders". One quotation reads: "Britain isn't going to the dogs. In fact, thanks to better nutrition and veterinary care, even our pets are living longer. But there's one area where things have not improved quite so dramatically. And they are the things run by government."
The Independent declares Mr Carswell to be "brave, principled and mistaken" but says it would welcome his re-election "in more honest colours". "It means that the EU withdrawalist position will have an MP in its own right rather than as a rebel minority in a major party. There is a lot of backward-looking baggage to go with that, from opposition to gay marriage to support of grammar schools, but let us at least have that tendency represented in the Commons, the more securely to defeat it."
Daily Express political reporter Owen Bennett, once of the Clacton Gazette, describes his former readers as "friendly and jovial". He adds that - contrary to the claims of some Conservatives - they won't be angry with Mr Carswell's defection because they "have always known" he's supported UKIP policies like leaving the EU, reforming Westminster and promoting choice in health and education.
The Guardian's Ben Quinn visits the seaside town to find folk more concerned about local issues. One supports UKIP's stance on immigration and another says: "Europe? I'd vote to get out of it in the morning." The Times, however, hears from residents fully in support of Mr Carswell, with one ex-Labour supporter declaring: "I will vote UKIP every time now."
Politics professor Matthew Goodwin describes in the Times Clacton's demography: financially struggling, with many working-class pensioners hostile towards the EU and anxious about immigration. He says this, combined with strong local UKIP support and Mr Carswell's current popularity, make him "certain" to win.
And Ian Birrell, former speechwriter to David Cameron, says in the Sun: "What can the Tories do? There is only one solution: send out an SOS (Save Our Seat) for Boris." However, No 10 is quoted dismissing the suggestion that London Mayor Mr Johnson might take on the seat.
In its editorial, the Mail repeats a warning that "animosity between the Tories and UKIP risks letting Labour in by default", adding: "If they could set aside their differences and agree an electoral pact to unite Britain's centre-right, polls suggest they'd tap into a huge well of innate conservatism in the country and sail into government."
However, the Telegraph's James Kirkup argues: "For voters who feel that Conservatives and Labour are basically the same, two faces of the same devalued coin, the [Tory campaign] warning 'Vote UKIP, Get Labour' holds little fear. In that case, the Conservatives' silver bullet will go astray and UKIP will amass enough votes and even seats to pitch not just next year's election result but the whole party system into chaotic uncertainty."
Before all that, the Independent says Mr Carswell's first challenge comes in the form of the existing UKIP candidate. "Roger Lord, who was preparing to take on Douglas Carswell as a Conservative in next year's general election, is now warning that he will challenge the former MP for the right to represent UKIP in the forthcoming by-election." It quotes him telling internet news site Buzzfeed: "As far as I'm concerned I'm carrying on."
Several papers carry front-page images of US actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, after it emerged they had married in secret. "It's the Pitts!" announces the Daily Mail's headline, while "Bride Pitt," is the Sun's version.
The Star describes the ceremony - on France's Cote d'Azur - where all six of their children took part, either by carrying rings, escorting the bride down the aisle or throwing flower petals. Given that it's rare that superstar weddings aren't attended by "hovering helicopters or paparazzi lurking in the bushes", the Times's Charles Bremner reckons the pair "pulled off a coup by marrying in a Provence chateau without anyone knowing for five days".
The Telegraph explains how the press eventually cottoned on in "the unlikely surroundings of a Dorset tank museum". It says: "There was no exotic honeymoon. Instead, Pitt headed to England and visited the Bovington Tank Museum where he posed for photographs to promote Fury, his new Second World War film. For most of the photocall, he kept his hands in his pockets. But when he briefly removed them, a gold wedding ring was visible."
"Given the lengths taken to keep the ceremony a secret, it appears that the photographs of the happy occasion will never be splashed across multiple pages of a specially selected celebrity magazine," suggests the Independent's Adam Sherwin.
However, the Daily Mail's announces it has "the wedding picture" on its front page before adding "well, sort of" by way of confession that it's a still image from the film Mr and Mrs Smith, in which they co-starred. For the Daily Express, the real marriage is "a remarkable case of life imitating art for the actors even if it did take them nine years to wed in real life".
Under the headline "baking bad", the Sun adopts its nickname in offering a "Currant Bun exclusive" on the story behind the controversy in the latest episode of BBC show the Great British Bake Off.
It centres on what the Daily Telegraph calls "bingate", involving bearded contestant, Iain Watters, throwing away his Baked Alaska dessert after what some felt was an act of "sabotage" by fellow contestant Diana Beard. The Sun reports that some 600 viewers had complained to the BBC about her actions and that the plot thickened when it was later revealed that Mrs Beard had left the show.
However, the paper says the "whobunnit" was solved when Mrs Beard explained that the incident arose out of a simple misunderstanding over freezer space and that she'd had to give up her part in the show because of illness. Mr Watters - who was ejected by the show's judges for having nothing to present to them - has since said his fellow contestant was not responsible.
Instead, it's the show's producers who have come under fire, with Mrs Beard complaining that she's been "really stitched up" by the way the scene was edited. "Telly's Bake Off is great drama as it is. Trust the Beeb to overegg the pudding," the Sun complains. A spokesman for the BBC is quoted saying it had not misled viewers.
Former contestant Ruby Tandoh writes in the Guardian that despite the later clarifications "the narrative that was propagated and has now taken hold in the public's consciousness is one of demonic Diana, deceitful Diana and - the unnerving Twitter trend so far - dirty Diana". She adds: "If there was nastiness... it came in the form of making a humiliated Iain parade the dustbin - into which he'd dumped his Baked Alaska - to the judge's table.
"Nastiness was spinning a story that cast an old lady as a pantomime villain. Nastiness was setting a challenge as embarrassingly retro as Baked Alaska in the first place."
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