Newspaper review: Papers mull low PCC vote turnout


The record low turnout for the police and crime commissioner (PCC) elections in 41 police areas in England and Wales occupies column inches in many of Saturday's newspapers.

The Guardian says the overwhelming voter indifference was a humiliating blow for David Cameron's plans to democratise the police.

For the Financial Times, the prime minister's hopes that Britain would embrace his vision of US-style elected police chiefs lies in tatters as the public turned its back on the idea.

The Daily Mail describes the elections as a day of apathy at the polls and a day of political bloodbaths for the three major parties, a dark day for democracy and a crushing rebuke to Britain's political class.

It focuses on Lord Prescott's defeat in Humberside, with the headline: "Humiliation of Lord Prezza".

The Times believes the ballot was a poor start for a good idea. Ultimately it says, success or failure is in the hands of the commissioners.

The Sun says the ballot failed to "arrest" our attention.

Middle East conflict

The violence in Israel and Gaza makes the lead for the Times. It says senior members of the Israeli military have told the paper they expect to invade Gaza this weekend.

An un-named official is quoted as saying: "Our current mobilisation level is such that when the order is given, we can move into Gaza within an hour."

The Sun takes up concerns raised by the Mail on Friday about the neutrality of the Leveson inquiry into press standards.

The paper says a number of advisors to the inquiry have links to an organisation whose aim includes greater press regulation.

The proposal to ban young drivers from carrying anyone other than family members as passengers in an effort to cut the number of road accidents involving teenagers is the Telegraph's main story.

The idea, put forward by the Association of British Insurers, is being considered by the government and receives a mixed response from motoring organisations.

Savage freeze

The Independent focuses on the decision by the European Medicines Agency to approve the first vaccine to protect children against meningitis B, paving the way for it to be licensed in the next few weeks.

The paper says the government is now under intense pressure to provide the funds for the drug to be made swiftly available to babies in the national vaccination programme.

The weather dominates the front page of the Daily Express with the headline: "Coldest winter in a hundred years on the way."

Britain will grind to a halt within weeks, the paper says, as the most savage freeze for a century begins.

Finally, some unwelcome news for fans of Mr Bean. The Telegraph reports that Rowan Atkinson is considering abandoning the comic character in favour of more cerebral roles on the stage.

He told the paper: "I also think someone in their 50s being child-like becomes a little sad."

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