Newspaper headlines: Floods, knighthoods, 'Arise, Dame Babs' and Boxing Day hunts

Some arresting images show the devastating impact of the Christmas period's heavy rain, with the Mail on Sunday giving over almost its entire front page to a shot of the West Yorkshire town of Mytholmroyd.

And inside photographs of submerged roads and gardens, people wading through knee-high water and rescuers ferrying people in boats illustrate what the Mail calls "the most widespread flooding for decades".

It all adds up to what the Daily Star Sunday calls a "floody nightmare", caused by a month's rain falling in just a few hours, while the Sunday Mirror's headline speaks of "hell and high water".

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"Rain of terror," is the Sun on Sunday's headline, while the Sunday People opts for "torrent of terror" as both picture the former Waterside pub which collapsed in Summerseats, Greater Manchester.

Dean Kirby visits Whalley, Lancashire, for the Independent on Sunday, where those evacuated from their homes speak in glowing terms of the community spirit. "At the Dog Inn, a 350-year-old pub in the centre of the village, customers spent all day bailing out the flooded back room. The IoS found them sitting at the bar trying to make the best of what remained of Boxing Day, while a TV in the still-flooded back room showed the latest weather forecast."

The Sunday Telegraph uses graphics to explain that the cause of the flooding resulted from fresh showers following weeks of heavy rain on upland areas. "As rain continued to land on sodden ground the result was inevitable. More water poured off hillsides into already swollen rivers, leading to flood defences being breached."

Efforts must be made to allay the effects of such a deluge, says the Sunday Express. "Not building on floodplains would be a good start. And, of course, the government must ensure that cash-strapped councils can have expensive flood defences built."

Likewise, the People says that - once the floodwaters have receded - it will be time to take stock. "We're an island nation. We are going to be battered by the weather. Places are going to flood. And this is an age of uncertainty and climate change. The government can listen to local people, consult with defence designers and invest in safeguarding measures."


Eye-catching headlines

  • "HeLL drivers" - the Sun on Sunday reports that learner drivers who fail tests are attacking their examiners, with 166 verbal assaults, 15 aggressive incidents and four physical attacks in a year
  • "Jive talkin': top philosopher says modern dance has lost its soul" - aesthetics commentator Roger Scruton says the trend for people to dance "at" rather than "with" each other in nightclubs is part of a "general decay of manners", reports the Observer
  • "The young pick five a day - and shun alcohol" - the Independent on Sunday reports that the proportion of children aged five to 15 who eat five fruit and veg portions a day has risen, while the percentage admitting to smoking or drinking has slumped
  • "Man U sales pitch" - the Sunday People describes a squad of former Manchester United footballers "desperate for a home win" as they put their multi-million pound mansions on the market

'National treasure'

The names of those to be awarded New Year Honours seem to leak out earlier each year. And the Sunday papers reckon they already know some of the figures to be given the highest honours. A Whitehall source tells the Sunday Times that Lynton Crosby - the Australian strategist credited with masterminding the Conservatives' election victory - is to be knighted. However, the paper says the decision has outraged campaigners who say it "demeans the honours system", and will "provoke a fresh row over cronyism".

As the Mail on Sunday points out: "There is a long tradition of grateful party leaders handing out honours to successful advisers. Tony Blair gave the advertising executive Philip Gould a life peerage in 2004 for the key part he played in the birth of New Labour, while Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown elevated Chris Rennard to the House of Lords in 1999 after he masterminded a string of by-election victories for the party."

However, the Mail's main interest is the future "Dame Babs" - actor Barbara Windsor - who it says is about to have her "status as a national treasure... confirmed". The paper says: "It is believed the honour will be mainly conferred for the star's contribution to entertainment - she was officially recognised as a 'cultural icon' when she took part in the Queen's Golden Jubilee parade in 2002 - but also in recognition of her work with charities such as Age UK and the Royal National Institute of Blind People."

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"Barbara at Windsor," is the Sun on Sunday's headline, as it looks ahead to the former EastEnders star's date with the Queen to collect her award. TV writer Laura Armstrong says the move will "delight millions of fans", adding: "As Queen Vic landlady Peggy Mitchell, she quickly became the heart of the BBC One soap." The paper's leader column takes inspiration from her saucy roles in the Carry On films by declaring: "On behalf of our readers, we offer lusty congratulations, Dame Babs."

Meanwhile, the Sunday People reckons 20-times champion jump jockey Tony McCoy is to be knighted. While the jockey was staying tight-lipped, the paper says: "McCoy, 41, is expected to land the accolade after an incredible career which also saw him win the Lifetime Achievement Award at last week's BBC Sports Personality of the Year bash. He retired in April after riding 4,357 winners in a 23-year career."


What the commentators say

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Media captionBroadcaster Anna Raeburn joins Robert Fox, the defence editor for London's Evening Standard, to review the papers for the BBC News Channel.

Bad law?

Several papers picture huntsmen turning out in traditional garb for some of the 300 Boxing Day meets around the country. The Sunday Express describes the estimated 250,000-strong attendance as a "show of defiance" against the government and protesters.

The Sunday Mirror, which spots UKIP leader Nigel Farage sporting a pair of bright yellow trousers at a Kent hunt, says support for the ban on foxhunting remains strong and that Sports Minister Tracey Crouch has dismissed moves to have it repealed.

The Sunday Telegraph sends Country Life magazine deputy editor Rupert Uloth to the Chiddingfold, Leconfield and Cowdray Hunt, in West Sussex. He writes: "Despite the sports minister saying that hunting should be 'consigned to history', it looks unlikely that it is going the way of the dodo any time soon." He quotes one participant describing how: "We get to ride in the most breathtaking country, where ordinarily no rider could go."

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The Telegraph dedicates its main editorial column to the subject, saying that for many in the countryside the hunting ban "represents bad law imposed to satisfy urban prejudice". It says drag hunting has largely replaced the pursuit of foxes and that the Countryside Alliance reported no prosecutions in the past year. "The ban has triggered a renaissance of hunting - an unexpected paradox that exposes just how silly and out-of-touch this legislation is. A good test of law is enforceability and this law is unenforceable because it is unreasonable and wrong."

A different type of hunting is the focus of the Mail on Sunday, which reports that Viscount Severn - that's Prince Edward's son, James - was not at the traditional Sandringham Boxing Day shoot this year. The paper photographed Edward apparently firing a gun "just feet away" from the youngster's head in November last year.

But in her diary, Charlotte Griffiths writes: "Sophie Wessex has banned her eight-year-old son from all shoots to protect him from any unwanted attention." The writer then quotes a "source close to the family" saying: "It's not about danger, but about being caught by another bad camera angle more than anything. She is fiercely protective of her children."


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