Newspaper review: Cameron warned of new year dangers

Sunday newspapers

Prime Minister David Cameron's new year message of realism and optimism gets a mixed reception in the papers, which also carry warnings of dangers ahead in 2013.

The Daily Express condemns what it calls "insulting platitudes" and "empty sound bites" in the message.

It says the UK needs iron-willed leadership - and that Mr Cameron can still be a great prime minister if he acts decisively.

The Sunday Mirror says the screws are going to be turned even more tightly on ordinary people in the coming year, with more redundancies, and more closures, while the very rich can look forward to a tax cut.

"That might be in the best interests of Cameron's class", it says, "but it isn't for the British people".

The Sun says he is right to cap welfare increases, and the Sunday Telegraph urges the prime minister to continue to show political courage to keep spending curtailed.

The Observer says the letter it has received from three councils reveals a growing north-south divide, and it thinks the coalition's austerity programme is going to make it harder to unite the country.

The Sunday Telegraph reports a "Tory rebellion in the shires", saying a coalition of 120 rural councils are considering a legal challenge to cuts.

The group says rural authorities have been underfunded for a decade, and the latest cuts will "crucify" them.

Force for good

The Mail on Sunday leads with what it calls the "scandal" that 23,000 police officers and staff have been found to have second jobs, up by almost 20% from last year.

It says the jobs include being a pallbearer, and a medium, and it has spoken to a counter-terrorist officer who started work as a parish priest; and a personnel officer who teaches pole-dancing.

The paper says moonlighting must be reduced by government reforms, if the police are to be a force for good.

In an article for the Mail, former Met Deputy Assistant Commissioner Brian Paddick argues that if officers are working on days off, their ability to do police work could be dangerously impaired.

Restrictions exist for good reason, he says, and any rules designed to protect the integrity of the police must be preserved.

The Sunday Times says the simmering war of words between ministers and the Police Federation has been reignited by new crime stats released to the paper.

They say recorded crime fell by at least 10% in nearly half the 43 force areas in England and Wales in the two years to June 2012, despite budget cuts of nearly 10%.

The police minister, Damian Green, says the statistics prove what the government has been saying all along, that it is possible to reduce police spending while maintaining and even improving the service.

The chairman of the Police Federation, Steve Williams, said the figures were just a snapshot, and they did not fully reflect the cuts being made over a period of three years.

Foreign doctors

The Sunday Telegraph leads on what it calls the first detailed picture of the "danger" presented by foreign doctors working in the health service.

It says figures from the General Medical Council show three quarters of the doctors who were struck off this year had been trained abroad.

The paper believes the disclosures will add to concerns NHS patients are not being adequately protected from doctors less rigorously trained than in the UK, or unfamiliar with basic medical practices here.

Commentators call the figures shocking and worrying; but one doctors' group raises questions about why complaints about foreign doctors are far more likely to be referred to the GMC.

The Department of Health says new checks are being introduced to protect patients.

There is more focus on the NHS in the Sun - which says a rise in compensation claims since 1998 has cost the service £1.7bn - and in the Sunday Times, which says overweight medical staff could be given counselling and dietary advice.

The Sunday Times says a report for the Royal College of Physicians even recommends stomach stapling where necessary.

The report says doctors and nurses are setting a bad example to patients, and urges hospitals to improve the food served to staff as well as patients.

Matter of honours

There is still plenty of reaction to the New Year Honours, with the Independent on Sunday headlining what it calls the "Backlash of the Paralympians".

It says they feel they have "lost out" to able-bodied athletes, and they are "very, very angry".

Lee Pearson, the dressage rider who won his 10th Paralympic gold in London this summer, says he was "disappointed" not to get a knighthood, and claims there is a perceived discrepancy between a Paralympic medal and an Olympic one.

The Sunday Mirror says anger is mounting over the decision not to make Mo Farah a Sir. In its editorial, the Mirror describes the system as a mystery and an outrage, and highlights Farah as one of the "glaring wrongs".

The runner himself - interviewed in the Sun - is relaxed about missing out on the top honour, telling the paper he has had other problems to contend with.

He reveals he's detained and questioned as a suspected terrorist every time he enters the United States, because of his Somali background.

"I even got my medals out this time to show who I am", he says, "but they wouldn't have it."

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