Newspaper review: Mixed reaction to benefits plans


"Back to the workhouse." That is how the Daily Mirror's front page describes the Conservatives' plan to make some of the long-term unemployed work for their benefits.

The paper reckons it is the "meanest welfare shake-up ever", with the editorial claiming: "The Tories regard the jobless as a group to be exploited for political gain."

The Independent is not impressed either. It says Chancellor George Osborne has started a "welfare war" with what it calls "draconian conditions for the unemployed".

Hang on a minute, says the Sun. Not only is the idea good for the country, it's good for the unemployed - by freeing them from what it calls "a life of miserable dependence with no incentive to escape".

The paper continues: "No rational person should object to the welfare revolution being announced by Mr Osborne today. It is decades overdue."

The Guardian believes it is "significant" Mr Osborne is announcing the policy rather than Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith.

At the weekend it was claimed the chancellor thinks his colleague "isn't clever enough".

The Guardian adds to that, saying the Treasury is "frustrated" with Mr Duncan Smith's handling of the new Universal Credit payment.

If that is the case, asks Matthew Norman in the Independent, "why has Mr Osborne stood back and permitted him such power over the lives of the most vulnerable?"

Spin doctor

With the Conservative Party conference in full swing, the sketch writers have decamped to Manchester.

Ann Treneman in the Times reports on a pop-up Margaret Thatcher shop selling "you turn if you want to" cufflinks for £12 and "iron baby" bibs for £8.

Also at the conference is a British Fur Trade Association stand.

"I picked up a copy of Fur News," Treneman writes, "which must be a guest publication on Have I Got News For You."

In the Daily Mail, Quentin Letts thinks the Conservative delegates are thinner than Labour's.

"The male youngsters mostly dress like trainee hotel managers," he writes. "and there are one or two Joanna Lumley lookalikes".

Both Letts and Treneman note the presence of former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell.

"He shouted across the hall that I was evil," writes Letts. "Perhaps it was that book review I wrote about his first novel."

Solar panels

They may not sell Margaret Thatcher cufflinks but the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph both report that Aldi is "wooing the middle classes" by selling fresh lobster for the first time.

The Telegraph also says the discount supermarket will soon open in George Osborne's constituency, Knutsford in Cheshire, as it expands into well-off areas.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail reports that Ikea is planning to sell solar panels the size of flat-screen televisions. Price tag? A mere £5,700.

Finally, when an amphibious duck boat caught fire on the River Thames some passengers jumped into the water to escape.

While most papers play up the drama - "duck boat terror", says the Daily Mirror - the Sun is less serious.

Above a picture of the stricken yellow boat it has the headline: "leaking duck".

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