New benefit bans and Moyes' misery - newspaper review

Barely a day goes by, it seems, without word of a new benefits "crackdown" and both the Daily Mail and Independent lead with them on Monday.

The former says "jobless immigrants" will face much greater restrictions on their ability to claim housing benefit from April, while the latter says under a Labour government, the unemployed would lose benefits if they failed a "basic skills test" and then refused to undergo training.

The Financial Times reports that David Cameron is facing stiff opposition from other European nations, particularly Germany, to efforts he's making to curb freedom of movement and benefits availability within the EU.

Elsewhere, the Daily Mirror and Guardian feature the "agony" of Manchester United manager David Moyes after his side lost to Chelsea 3-1 at Stamford Bridge.

Discussing the papers for the BBC News Channel, Anne Ashworth, from the Times, commented on the i's front page lead, which says a charity is warning that children in the UK are growing up in a "toxic climate" and need more help to cope.

"I just wonder whether we aren't in an age where there's one weight which is the perfect weight, one way of looking which is the perfect way to look, that you need to have 10 A* GCSEs otherwise you're a loser," she said.

"I think there's a certain group who feel very, very pressured and we know that social networking makes this worse."

Tom Chivers, from the Daily Telegraph, said there was an argument, though, that "kids have to have their childhood online these days because we're afraid of letting them outside to play in the real world."

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Image caption Opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko is pictured among protesters in Kiev after serious violence broke out once again in the Ukrainian capital

'Boys' own hero'

Warm tributes appear in many of the papers after the death of Sir Chris Chataway - best known for being Roger Bannister's pacemaker when he broke the four-minute mile.

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Image caption The Queen was all smiles as she attended church near Sandringham on Sunday

The first winner of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award, the Daily Mirror points out his athleticism even later in life as shown by his "incredible" time of one hour 38 minutes for the Great North Run at the age of 75.

Chataway was "a true blue amateur", writes Neil Wilson, in the Daily Mail. He "did not run a step three days each week in the season or on four days in winter. On only one of the other days did he train for more than 45 minutes."

"A fierce competitor in a Corinthian sporting tradition that seems amateur now - unsponsored and part-time," agrees the Guardian's obituary, he went on to have a diverse career in various fields. As leader of London's county council "he implemented, somewhat cautiously, the capital's drive to comprehensive schooling", and later, as government minister for posts and telecommunications "he was responsible for introducing commercial radio".

Indeed, says Robin Scott-Elliot, in the Independent, "he rarely seemed comfortable within his athletics' career" and "was prouder of his attempts to help repeal the law that made homosexuality illegal and his work for African charities".

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Image caption Elegance and eccentricity - British stars Michelle Dockery and Emma Thompson both walked the red carpet at the SAG awards in Los Angeles.


Labour's shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves tells the Independent about her party's plans to make unemployment benefit claimants take a maths and literacy test - with those who fail and refuse training to lose their payments. "She is trying to match, or even outflank, the Tories on an issue they regard as a trump election card," her interviewer, Andrew Grice, writes.

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Image caption Michael Le Vell is set to return to filming on Coronation Street on Monday, the Daily Star reports

Reaction to the idea is, very interestingly, the reverse of what one might expect from the two biggest selling red tops.

The Labour-supporting Daily Mirror says "it would be better if they left school equipped for work rather than being sent back to school when they're out of work" and urges Ms Reeves to "avoid entering a race to the bottom with the Tories to see who can make life most difficult for low paid, insecure workers". The paper's associate editor Kevin Maguire puts it more bluntly: "Labour must not get into a bash-a-scrounger war with the Tories."

The Sun, however, more right-leaning and at the last election at least, Conservative-supporting, says "credit where it's due" to Labour for the idea, adding: "There appear to be genuine signs of clear thinking. At least in some parts of the Labour Party."

'Total reconstruction'

If he isn't already down in the dumps, Manchester United's David Moyes should steer clear of Monday's sports pages - although none are calling for his head.

The problem, essentially, says Jeremy Cross, in the Daily Star, is that "a new manager is bossing a fading team".

"Total reconstruction" is what's needed, thinks Paul Hayward, of the Daily Telegraph, and "the cost will be eye-watering". "This is not turbulence. This is about starting all over again", he writes. He believes the "Moyes debate is subjective" but "the discussion about players is not".

"As if life is not tough enough," Moyes "must bear comparisons with Mourinho" - the man who beat him on Sunday - "who is so happy with life that he is even going out of his way to set himself up as the best friend and chief defender of referees," says Matt Dickenson, in the Times.

The Sun's Steven Howard thinks responsibility is being shared, however, with Man Utd at "the stage where Alex Ferguson seems to receive almost as much blame as Moyes for failing to leave his successor with a strong enough squad". He also believes all hope isn't lost and "United will somehow scrape into the top four".

Whatever the outcome in May, "just now United are having to learn a whole new kind of humility," adds John Dillon, in the Daily Express.

Putin's message

The continuing controversy surrounding the Sochi Winter Olympics and Russian President Vladimir Putin's attitude towards homosexuality sparks debate in the papers.

"President Putin is well aware that being hostile to gays will play well not only with the secular and macho longings of a country that has lost its empire, but Orthodox Christians and Muslims," writes Libby Purves, in the Times. "He can court their approval by ridiculing his domestic opponents as mincing decadent queens, while repeatedly removing his own shirt for manly photo-ops."

With all the negative publicity surrounding the issue, Mr Putin "clearly felt the time was right for a charm offensive," says the Independent, after he opened himself up to questioning by a group of Western journalists. And such was his skills at answering "with practised ease", that "the journalists landed flat on their backs".

Indeed, thinks the Daily Telegraph, "whatever Mr Putin said in Russian, the English version made him sound like a tolerant democrat with a passion for human rights."

The Guardian though, while agreeing the questioning was "gentle enough", thinks "Putin's message was strident, though not entirely convincing", especially on the issue of corruption surrounding the Games.

Cameron's rules

"Our Old Etonian prime minister might not be typical to many of us. But children are a great equaliser," writes the Sun. That comes after David Cameron admitted "limiting the amount of TV the children kids watch, then flopping down in front of it the moment they've gone to bed".

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Image caption David Cameron preferred Miley Cyrus when she was the "lovely Hannah Montana"

The Times agrees Mr Cameron has a "strict parenting regime" towards Elwen, Nancy and Florence when it comes to screen time, and says he is relieved that his children haven't yet connected the "lovely Hannah Montana" to "this person twerking" - referring, of course, to pop star Miley Cyrus.

The Guardian thinks the PM also used the interview with the Mail on Sunday "to emphasise his man-on-the-street credentials", including revealing he is a remote control hog. He also said he'd watched relatively unknown Swedish band First Aid Kit "incognito" at a London gig. But the paper points out: "With songs about environmental issues, Guantanamo Bay and the campaign to free Russian band Pussy Riot, it is safe to assume [they] are not natural Tory voters."

Making people click

Daily Mail - Does stress in womb raise chances of baby growing up to be gay? Controversial book also claims smoking and drugs affect sexuality

Independent - Peter Barker, the man whose 'Bedroom Tax' loophole could help up to 40,000 housing benefit claimants to get their money back

Financial Times - China's economic growth continues to cool

Daily Mirror - Queen hands over the reigns to Prince Charles - historic step closer to a new king