Newspaper headlines: Theresa May's conference speech, book releases and toad decline

Theresa May's Conservative Party conference speech dominates the front pages.

The Times says the prime minister made a direct appeal to Labour voters in the biggest speech of her premiership.

"Mrs May put 'dysfunctional' businesses like the Big Six energy firms and broadband providers such as BT on notice to expect aggressive action in a strongly interventionist speech," says the Times.

"Calling for a new 'spirit of citizenship', she highlighted a rogues' gallery of those she said had failed to play by the rules, infuriating their customers and putting at risk the social contract that allowed capitalism to function.

"Mrs May barely disguised her targets after controversies involving the Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley, the tech giants Google and Facebook, and the former BHS owner Sir Philip Green."

Image copyright Reuters

She highlighted a series of areas where she said consumers were receiving a poor deal, says the Telegraph, including rural broadband, energy bills and housing.

Downing Street sources indicated that initiatives to address these issues would be introduced in the Autumn Statement, along with measures for savers, reports the Telegraph.

"The 59-minute speech came at the end of Mrs May's first Conservative conference, which was widely judged to be a success by activists, with the party emerging unified, in contrast to last month's Labour Party conference," it says.

"The address was the first from the prime minister which set out her priorities for governing and how they would differ from David Cameron.

"It was largely aimed at winning over wavering Labour supporters, particularly in the north of England, whom Conservative strategists believe may now be persuaded to back the Tories in the wake of Brexit."

The Guardian says Mrs May repeatedly told her party that "change must come", in a populist speech."The prime minister told delegates that she saw the referendum verdict as marking a political turning point, which legitimised both a tougher line on immigration and more state intervention in public life," it says.

"But May faced an angry backlash from opposition politicians, including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who accused her of stoking anti-immigrant sentiment by playing to fears about the impact of foreign workers on jobs and wages."

The i says Mrs May pledged to stand up to the rich and powerful and make the Conservatives "the party of the workers" as she made a pitch for the political centre ground.

The Financial Times says she vowed to make capitalism fairer for workers as she promised profound change to reunite the UK following the EU referendum.


Centre ground

The Times comments that the Conservatives gave her appeal for more fairness and less privilege a warm welcome but the party is split where it matters most, in the cabinet, on Brexit.

For the Telegraph, Mrs May has had a remarkably good first conference as leader and prime minister given the dramatic circumstances in which she took office just a few months ago.

The Guardian says it was a speech and conference shaped at every turn by the Brexit vote, but Mrs May succeeded in her real aim of getting the party behind her.

Oliver Duff, editor of the i, writes: "Yesterday's major address to the nation was carpe Brexit - her pitch for the vacated centre ground of British politics.

"Politically clever, ambitious in its appeal to any disillusioned supporters of Labour or UKIP, and absent of new policy detail."

The Financial Times states that Mrs May set out a governing philosophy with verve, breaking with the unfettered economic liberalism that has dominated Conservative thinking for the past four decades.

The Mail says it was the speech of a woman who understands the great mass of British voters, whose fears and aspirations have been ignored by the political class for so long.

The Express concludes that at the end of the conference season the Conservatives head back to Westminster in "fine fettle" but Labour and the Liberal Democrats find themselves "in the midst of a crisis".

The Sun says Mrs May's speech was a masterclass as a pitch to its readers. In contrast, the Mirror says words are cheap so it would be a surprise if her talk of helping the working class added up to much.


Eye-catching headlines

  • Bond's getaway jetpack becomes reality for thrill seekers: The first James Bond-style jetpacks that can easily attach to people's backs and let them fly through the air took to the skies over the Thames yesterday, and are on course to become available to the public from next year Telegraph
  • Potter's Peter Rabbit board game finally makes it to freedom: A new exhibition at the V&A Museum of Childhood in London will tell how Beatrix Potter was thwarted in her attempts to make her own board game for fans of Peter Rabbit after her publisher could not make head nor tail of the rules Telegraph
  • Old fire station found in factory: A fire station locked and left untouched since the 1960s was rediscovered in Dudley when a set of old keys was discovered during renovation work on a factory building i

Footballer booked

In other news, the i notes that broadcaster and journalist Jeremy Paxman is being joined by footballer Jamie Vardy in releasing memoirs aimed at the Christmas market earlier than normal.

The paper explains such books are not normally put on sale until "Super Thursday" in two weeks' time.

But several will hit the shelves on Thursday, including Paxman's A Life In Questions and Vardy's From Nowhere, My Story.

Others doing the same include Tory grandee Ken Clarke, David Cameron's director of communications Craig Oliver and Alastair Campbell who held the same No 10 post under Tony Blair.

Image copyright Reuters

There is also Miranda Hart's book Peggy And Me, David Walliams' work There's A Snake In My School and Graham Norton's debut novel Holding.

Keira O'Brien, of trade publication The Bookseller, tells the paper: "Jamie Oliver has a history of topping the Christmas charts but we also expect the new Ladybirds for grown-ups titles released on Super Thursday to do very well."

Oliver's Christmas Cookbook could become his fourth number one in the festive list.


Pond life

Finally, the Telegraph reports the rather worrying news that Britain's toad population is close to qualifying for endangered status after falling by nearly 70% over the past 30 years.

"The loss of hundreds of thousands of the amphibians since the 1980s is thought to be due to a combination of new farming techniques that have caused the loss of ponds and the death of prey from pesticides, as well as increasing urbanisation," says the Telegraph.

"Heavier traffic has also been blamed for the sharp reduction, despite widespread schemes to help toads safely migrate to their breeding ponds by carrying them across busy roads."

Image copyright Science Photo Library

The research was conducted by the charity Froglife, based on data collated by volunteer patrols and published in the journal Plos One.

Froglife's Dr Silviu Petrovan tells the Telegraph: "Toad declines at this scale over such large areas are really worrying.

"Toads are extremely adaptable and can live in many places ranging from farmland and woodland to suburban gardens.

"They are also important pest controllers, eating slugs, snails and insects and are food themselves for many of our most likeable mammals such as otters and polecats."