Newspaper headlines: Anthem furore dominates press

The phrase "silence speaks volumes" seems apt for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's decision not to sing the national anthem, while at a Battle of Britain memorial service.

It has certainly generated volumes of comment in the papers.

The Times reports that the decision by the staunch republican Labour leader to (in his own words) stand in "dignified silence" while God Save The Queen was sung "met with fury among Royal Air Force veterans, former military commanders and politicians".

Image copyright PA
Image caption Mr Corbyn appears not to be the only service attendee to be maintaining a "respectful silence" in this widely reprinted photograph of the Battle of Britain commemoration

Former wing commander Tom Neil, 95, is quoted as saying: "It just shows how bigoted he is and how small-minded."

In the Daily Mail, Stan Hartill, who served with the 609 Spitfire Squadron, is quoted as saying: "They should take him out and shoot him."

The Financial Times notes that Mr Corbyn is "unaccustomed to national media scrutiny" other than in the Morning Star.

"He clearly finds the attention irksome, exacerbated by his dislike of travelling by car," it adds.

The Daily Express's editorial says not singing the national anthem was "puerile, dogmatic, anti-British posturing".

It adds: "Such behaviour cannot be tolerated... by any honourable Briton."

Sketch-writer Michael Deacon in the Daily Telegraph takes umbrage at Mr Corbyn's appearance at the Battle of Britain event.

"He looked like a lecturer who'd woken late, got dressed in the dark, then loosened his collar to recover from the mad panting dash to the bus stop.

"If he'd actually been a lecturer, of course, the air of absent-minded dishevelment might have been endearing. But he wasn't a lecturer. He was the leader of a major political party."

Inside the paper, its newest columnist - former Tory leader William Hague - says he has always "respected and made time for" Mr Corbyn.

But he cautions the newly elected leader of the opposition that he faces the choice of "annihilate or conciliate" his enemies within the party.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption William Hague has some advice for Mr Corbyn as he embarks on "the drudgery of half a decade of managing, balancing, cajoling and comforting a couple of hundred of Britain's most ambitious but insecure men and women".

"Deep divisions in a potential government is a mandatory death sentence on polling day," he adds.

The Daily Mirror's editorial says it respects Mr Corbyn's choice to act with his conscience.

"Whatever your view of him, it is absurd to suggest he was showing a lack of respect to our country's war heroes.

"He was there to pay them respect and he chose to do so silently.

"Those who enjoy singing the anthem should be allowed to do so and those who prefer to reflect shouldn't be abused or bullied."

The Independent suggests Labour should deploy a "spin doctor" as the anthem row and other "small but symbolic blunders" have "undermined" his efforts to get across the party's "new anti-austerity agenda".

In the paper, columnist Matthew Norman says Mr Corbyn must go on the offensive against his attackers in the right-wing press.

"He needs to speak about why these newspapers are so frantically keen to strangle his leadership at birth.

"He must try to explain that true power in this country resides in the government-newspaper nexus, and that now, as ever, the paramount ambition of proprietors is to cajole and bully voters into voting in accord with their commercial and taxation interests."

Guardian columnist Owen Jones makes a similar point.

"Twitter and packed halls are not enough: a wider media offensive is crucial - or the smears will stick," he argues.

"If the Corbyn-led Labour party is to be successful its supporters need to communicate," he adds.


'We are all lost'

The other main direction of news on Wednesday looks towards the Hungarian border with Serbia and - more broadly - the European migration crisis.

The Daily Mirror reports that hundreds of migrants are staging a mass sit-in at a major point between Hungary and Serbia - and some have threatened to starve themselves to death if they are not allowed to cross into the EU.

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Image caption Hungary's border with Serbia now bristles with razor wire

One Afghan man tells the paper: "We will die here on the road, we will starve ourselves to death and then they will have to pick up our bodies from the streets.

"Is that what Europe wants? We do not want to stay here, we want to pass and will not move from here until we are allowed to."

The Daily Telegraph says that the EU's "utterly incoherent policy on border controls" is making the continuing crisis worse.

It says that despite European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker's words on the need for more secure borders, Hungary is being castigated by other EU nations over the new razor-wire fence on its southern border.

"If they object to fences, they are surely obliged to explain what securing existing frontiers entails and how they propose to achieve it."

The Guardian says the sealing of Hungary's border with Serbia - and with EU neighbour Romania - marked a day when "Fortress Europe began to pull up the few drawbridges" available to refugees seeking its security.

The paper's Patrick Kingsley joins a crowd of baffled would-be asylum seekers near the Serbian border town of Horgos.

Amid refugees claiming "we are all lost" and migrant welfare workers asking journalists if they can tell them what precisely is going on, Kingsley witnesses two 12-year-old Syrians procuring a document "written in incomprehensible Hungarian jargon" that seemed to be the officially approved way to claim asylum in Hungary.

"Border closures will never be an effective deterrent to people fleeing experiences that are far more traumatic," he adds.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption These migrants are on their way to Sweden, said by the papers to be the EU country with the most generous policy towards asylum seekers

A map of border closures, restrictions and calls for extra security in the Daily Mail charts how - in the paper's words - "Europe's warm welcome wore out".

Sue Reid in the Daily Mail says she has spoken to Syrian refugees in Germany and they have suggested that only one in three migrants entering the country and claiming to be Syrian refugees is actually from the war-torn country.

A Serbian official tells her that Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Iraqis throw away their travel documents in fields so that they can claim to be Syrians and gain asylum with the community, she adds.

Writing in the Financial Times, Poland's former deputy prime minister Jacek Rostowski blames Germany for encouraging the fresh flow of migrants by announcing that it would grant asylum to all Syrians reaching its territory - before rowing back from that position.

He argues that migrants want a better future in the rich countries of northern Europe, not Poland or Hungary, and mandatory quotas will not work unless an "unacceptable" network of barbed wire is created to keep people in the countries to which they have been assigned.


Eye-catching headlines

  • "For sale, world's first spider-proof shed" - Arachnophobes will be delighted to read in the Daily Mail of a garden shed that comes complete with toughened windows, airtight seals and spider-repelling colours and scents. Yours for £1,999.
  • "A nice day for a wild wedding" - Spiders - well tarantulas to be exact - were on the guest list of a Rugby couple who decided to "invite" 30 different creatures, including meerkats, foxes, and scorpions, to their wedding. "Sometimes it can be a bit dull waiting for the speeches so we thought this could solve that problem," groom Paul Freakley tells the Daily Star.
  • "Drivers stranded by dashboard lights" - "Confused motorists" baffled by hi-tech dashboard displays looking like "the Starship Enterprise" are increasingly calling the AA, the Times reports.
  • "My Isil comrades have no manners, grumbles Home Counties jihadi" - The Daily Telegraph among others reports the blog grumbling of Omar Hussain, former Morrisons security guard from High Wycombe and current Islamic State recruit in Syria. They include being "stared at" by Arabs, and Syrians borrowing his shoes without asking.

'Tropical depression'

Not only do Britons love to talk about the weather, we love to write about it.

The Daily Mail is among the papers to report on flooding alerts as tropical storm Henri approaches the UK from the Atlantic.

The paper says the storm is expected to hit "in force" today in England and Wales, bringing a deluge of rain.

Already there have been some casualties of the storm, the paper tells us: Loftus near Middlesbrough was knee-high in floodwater after getting 20.6mm of rain in 12 hours and the filming of Poldark has been disrupted by high winds on the Cornish coast.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption It could be the winter of 1963 all over again, meteorologists say

Henri began in Bermuda six days ago and his trans-Atlantic rampage has been upgraded from "tropical depression" to tropical storm - one grade below a hurricane - the Mail notes.

When it comes to weather stories, no paper gives them greater front page prominence than the Daily Express.

Today, it predicts Britain is heading for a "killer winter".

The paper says "experts" are predicting the UK's "coldest winter for 50 years".

And the "big freeze could plunge the nation into chaos" with heavy snowfalls as early as next month.

The culprit - as so often in weather stories - is this year's El Nino weather event in the South Pacific which will combine with a cooling Atlantic (caused by melting Arctic ice cap) to bring snow.

Image caption It's too windy for Poldark

The Express says meteorologists say the El Nino effect - a band of warm water that develops off the South American coast - is the strongest since 1950.

In 1950, Britain saw one of its worst winters on record, the paper adds, with snow lying in the Highlands for 102 days, and even Bournemouth being blanketed with a 10ins fall.

The Express cheerily notes that the winter could see food price rises, fuel shortages and an increased death rate.

But first we have to get through Henri!

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