Referendum 'fears', dogs' home plea and Ian Paisley tributes

The Scottish referendum campaign continues to dominate much of the press, with several papers quoting bankers and financial analysts' fears that a "Yes" vote could cause years of uncertainty.

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And the London-based press, which is largely supportive of the Union, continues to report suggestions that Scots could be hit in the pocket, should they opt for independence. Phone bills would rise because the cost of installing equipment over large distances to reach remote areas would not be subsidised by the rest of the UK, reports the Daily Mail, while the Sun says electricity bills would jump £329 a year as a result of the loss of Whitehall subsidies for renewable energy.

The Times suggests the cost of food, housing, mortgages and mail could also go up. Meanwhile, the Independent reports Labour leader Ed Miliband's suggestion that the NHS north of the border could be £1bn worse off as a result of Scotland having to find billions of pounds in extra reserves should it want to continue informally using the pound.

First Minister Alex Salmond has described interventions by business figures as "blatant intimidation" orchestrated by Westminster.

Chris Tighe, of the Financial Times, finds Scots opening bank accounts across the border in Berwick-upon-Tweed. "We were just wanting to be reassured that the money is safe - we don't want any complications with exchange rates," one customer tells him. Meanwhile, the Scottish Daily Mail reports comments from the former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars that there will be a "day of reckoning" for businesses if the people choose independence, in what the paper interprets as "revenge" for backing the "No" campaign. The Mail's London edition describes it as a "tirade of hate" that shames the current party leader Alex Salmond.


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Rugby proves one of the more unlikely topics to be covered by the referendum debate in Saturday's papers. It even makes it onto the Daily Telegraph's front page, which declares: "Scots split could herald end of the British Lions." Fans need not worry too much about missing out on the 2017 New Zealand tour, however, as the paper points out the side would probably simply be rebranded "The Lions", should its full title of The British and Irish Lions become obsolete.

Meanwhile, the Mail's Quentin Letts meets boyhood idol - ex-Scotland star Andy Irvine - at Murrayfield, where 18 former internationals, including Kenny Logan and Gavin Hastings, made the case for preserving the Union. "The 'Yes' campaign people seem to think they have exclusive rights to Scottish patriotism," complains ex-Grand Slam captain David Sole. "It can be intimidating to declare which side of the fence you sit on but we make a good team with the Union." As the writer notes: "The lads agreed happily that they had punched plenty of Englishmen in their time, but after a game they would all have friendly beers with the boys in white."

'A unifying force'

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The Daily Mirror publishes the results of a poll of people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland which reveals that 81% of those asked were against the break-up of the Union. "Most think THEY should have a vote," says the Mail. However, they don't, and the Guardian's latest poll of those who do gives the "No" campaign a slender two-point lead. It's the "unknown number of 'don't knows' who hold the key" says the Times, noting that 17% of those who responded to the ICM/Guardian poll remained undecided.

The Guardian spells out respondents' top reasons for planning to vote "Yes", which include Westminster's style of politics, feelings about Scotland and hopes for a more prosperous future. Motivation for voting "No" included feelings about the UK, concerns over public services and pensions, and fears about prospects. Alongside the graphics, Alberto Nardelli tries to explain fluctuations in the poll results in an article entitled "what makes opinion polls wobble".

Reporters on the trail of an increasingly fiery campaign could not resist turning up for UKIP leader Nigel Farage's contribution - a speech in a former Glasgow distillery. The Mail's Robert Hardman thought "we were probably in for what locals like to call a bit of a stooshie". And that was just what Telegraph sketchwriter Michael Deacon found: "Outside the building, a crowd was waiting to welcome him. They did not, on the whole, look terribly friendly."

As it turned out, "the Ukip leader's presence turned out to be a unifying force in what has often proved a highly divisive debate. Outside the venue for the press conference, unionists and nationalists chanted: 'yes or no, UKIP has got to go'," writes the Times's Lindsay McIntosh. "Anti-independence voters feared his campaign would backfire and play into the hands of the "Yes" camp," explains the Daily Star, under the headline: "UKIP your gob shut."

Pet rescue

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While others' front pages fret about the future of the kingdom, the Sun mobilises its "army of animal loving readers" to come to the aid of some of the 150 or so animals left homeless after fire tore through Manchester Dogs' Home.

Under the headline "give a dog a home", its front page pictures 10 - alongside their names - that it wants readers to adopt. Animal lovers have already raised £1m in the space of a day to help the animals, with some posting "mutt selfies" to raise funds, says the paper.

The Daily Mirror describes how after fire took hold of the building, killing 60 dogs earmarked for rehousing who were trapped in kennels, locals turned up to help save the others. "Volunteers formed a human chain to pass rescued dogs... into waiting vehicles as 18 RSPCA inspectors arrived to help treat the animals. The next day shelves at local stores were emptied of dog food and blankets, as people rushed to buy supplies to donate to the rescue effort," it says.

Bichon Frise Leo's "great escape" is the focus of the Telegraph, which pictures his reunion with tearful owner Dawn Bradbury, who was convinced he'd been killed at the home, where he was taken by a warden after being found wandering the streets. The Daily Express, meanwhile, is full of praise for people's "overwhelming" response, saying: "That so many dogs have died is truly saddening. But it is comforting to know that the vast sum of money raised will help the Manchester Dogs' Home rebuild its premises and in the future it will go on to save the lives of many thousands more stray and unwanted dogs."

'Extraordinary tributes'

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Papers mark the death of former Northern Ireland First Minister Ian Paisley by focusing on what the Mirror describes as the "extraordinary tributes [paid to him] by men who were once his sworn enemies". Foremost among them was Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness who eventually became his deputy first minister and friend to the point, the Telegraph remembers, they earned the nickname the "Chuckle Brothers".

However, the Financial Times says the tributes "caught the ambiguities of Paisley's personality and career". The Telegraph hears from former Northern Ireland Minister Michael Ancram, who writes: "We were as different as chalk and cheese, he the firebrand Unionist and me the Roman Catholic from the mainland seeking compromise - not a word that featured large in Ian's dictionary. Yet we never fell out in private, partly because he used wit and humour. In private... he was quiet, he was courteous. I didn't necessarily approve of a lot of what he'd done in the past, or even what he was doing at the time. But I respected him. And I liked him."

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The Sun highlights some of Mr Paisley's more memorable and controversial quotes, including - from 1969 about Catholics - "they breed like rabbits and multiply like vermin", and - from 1997 - "I will never sit down with Gerry Adams. He'd sit down with the devil."

The Times offers a different selection, including: "I hate the system of Roman Catholicism but, God being my judge, I love the poor dupes who are ground down under [it]... I feel for their Catholic mothers who have to go and prostitute themselves before old bachelor priests", along with "Is that the Devil's buttermilk on your breath?" to a reporter seeking an interview.

Independent deputy editor Sean O'Grady remembers dreading having to book Mr Paisley to appear on a politics programme when a BBC researcher. He'd been "brought up to believe he was one of the worst bigots in the world, the heir to the Black and Tans (whose wickedness my nan had told me about), thoroughly mad and bad.

"When I announced my name, I was amazed by the massive charm I was confronted with. He was nice. He agreed to come on the telly. His politics still appalled me."

Under the headline "Reverend Rabble Rouser", the Daily Mail's Simon Heffer writes: "A clergyman of the fire and brimstone school, [Mr Paisley] was the terrifying symbol of ultra-loyalism in Ulster for the best part of 50 years. Along with the IRA godfathers, he bore some responsibility for the outbreak of the Troubles."

"The old Protestant cry of 'No surrender!' was, until near the end of his life, regularly uttered from his lips as he opposed every move introduced by the government in London since the 60s to try to bring peace to the war-weary province. Not surprisingly, he divided opinion very deeply... Although a genial man in private conversation, he could radiate menace and be poisonously manipulative."

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The Guardian prints the view of the late Simon Hoggart on Mr Paisley's "long march from demented demagogue to respected peer of the realm". The writer concludes that recognition was what Mr Paisley had always wanted, and that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair zeroed in on that desire to make him a privy counsellor. "In 2010 Gordon Brown sent him to the House of Lords where, as Baron Bannside, he ended his political career, having moved in almost half a century from a stroppy, seditious Savonarola to an admired and even loved elder statesman."

The Telegraph's editorial argues that "the journey of Lord Bannside demonstrates what is made possible by rational engagement", concluding that his actions later in life were "to the benefit of all communities in Northern Ireland".

And the Daily Express remembers a "very principled man". Its editorial argues: "He deserves to be remembered for the strength of his convictions. While they may not always have been agreeable the dedication with which he stuck to his beliefs was admirable and a sterling example to many of our politicians."

While lamenting that Mr Paisley did not reach an agreement with the Republicans earlier, the Mirror acknowledges: "It is right and proper to acknowledge that Dr Paisley became a force for good in his later years."

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