Newspaper review: Papers' concern over UK's Mali role

Papers

The Guardian, the Daily Mail and the Sun all give front-page coverage to the news that the UK may send up to 200 troops to west Africa to help the French drive Islamist militants from Mali.

The Mail calls it a "major escalation" of British involvement in the region.

Even though Downing Street insists the soldiers will not have a combat role, the paper believes the development will fuel fears that the UK is being sucked into another open-ended conflict in a Muslim country.

The Daily Mirror is also wary of what it sees as "mission creep".

Hundreds of British troops flying to Africa must not be allowed to become the thin end of a very thick wedge, the paper warns.

The Independent believes the operation in Mali has already exposed serious gaps in France's military capability.

It says that as with the Libya conflict it is clear the French and the British cannot mount even such limited operations entirely by themselves.

Mali's lesson, it says, is that we still need the US.

Tax increases

According to the Times, the Conservative Party is considering whether to force major companies to reveal the ethnic breakdown of their workforce as part of a new drive to woo black and Asian voters.

The paper says David Cameron has told Tory cabinet ministers to come up with policies to appeal to ethnic communities, amid fears that without their support the party will struggle to win an outright majority.

The Daily Express and the Daily Star focus on government tax policies after a report by the Taxpayers' Alliance claimed that millions of people have been hit by more than 250 tax increases since the coalition came to power.

The Financial Times says Chancellor George Osborne is braced for a fresh backlash over bank bonuses.

It reports that Royal Bank of Scotland, which is state-controlled, is preparing to pay as much as £250m to staff at an investment division implicated in the Libor-rigging scandal.

Poor condition

A report in the Daily Telegraph claims that foreign motorists are "driving a horse and cart" through Britain's motoring laws.

Anyone coming to the UK must register their car and get British plates within six months, allowing the authorities to make sure the vehicle is taxed, insured and roadworthy.

But the paper highlights an admission by Road Safety Minister Stephen Hammond that the government has no idea how many motorists are flouting the law.

It says local authorities believe there could be at least 30,000 foreign-registered cars which are on Britain's roads illegally - some in poor and potentially dangerous condition.

Covert patrols

The Daily Mail describes how the number of people fined for dropping litter has risen 90-fold in England in 15 years, from just over 700 to 64,000 in 2012.

It puts much of the increase down to covert patrols by former soldiers working for a firm that is paid by councils according to the number of penalties it hands out.

The Mail says dropped bank cards, nut shells and even pens have been enough to warrant on-the-spot fines of £80.

One woman in Blaenau Gwent claims she was targeted for accidentally dropping a cotton thread from her glove.

The paper describes the number of tickets now being issued as "staggering".

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