Newspaper review: Scenes of devastation after crash

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Media captionWriter and broadcaster Eva Wiseman and political journalist Rob Merrick discuss the morning's papers.

One story dominates the Sunday front pages - the helicopter crash in Glasgow that has left eight people dead.

Several use images from above the scene - showing the aircraft in smithereens - while others start to look forward somewhat, asking why the accident might have happened.

The Sunday Express headline highlights, as many of the emergency services have done, the courage of ordinary pub-goers caught up in the carnage.

Among the few other stories making the front pages is the Sunday Times' lead, which bemoans the state of the British education system compared with competitor nations such as China.

Image caption In every big story, one or two images of individual pain or drama tend to gain traction and this one, of Clutha regular Paul Watt, has done just that

Discussing the papers for the BBC's News Channel, writer and broadcaster Eva Wiseman said the Sunday Times' headline, "UK schools stuck at back of the class", would catch the eye of any mum or dad. "Parents of school-aged children are obsessed with education. You pick this up and think, 'Oh no, what now?'" she said.

On that basis, political journalist Rob Merrick said he was "confused" by the suggestion made by one expert to the paper that British parents "are simply not as aware of how important education is".

"It may just mean that British parents want their kids to do something other than be educated for ever longer, ever more hours per day, and they want them to pursue other interests," he said.

Harrowing tales and heroism

Every paper devotes several pages to covering the helicopter crash - and in particular, to the human stories of those who experienced or witnessed what happened. The illustration they use is fairly similar from one publication to the next - picture editors had a relatively small pool of photographs to choose from, not least because so much of the devastation is hidden from view inside the pub. In lieu of that, the Mail on Sunday has created a very realistic graphic showing what it imagines the interior situation might be like.

Unlike those papers who opted for dramatic wide shots of the scene, the Sunday Mirror hones in on one possible victim on its front page. John McGarrigle fears his father was among those killed - he says he always sat in the same spot in the Clutha pub, adding: "When I saw the position of the helicopter - that was when I knew." Inside the Sunday Mirror is the story of Willie Bell, who believes he was saved because he went outside for a cigarette.

Image caption Many papers use images similar to this one on their inside pages, showing rescue workers on the pub's roof among the tangled wreckage

Mr McGarrigle's pained face also appears in the People, and alongside it, pictures of several other people the paper believes are among the dead. It says the pilot had served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Among its vivid eyewitness accounts is that of prison officer Alleena Coupe, who describes "a massive whoosh" before the roof came down. "It seemed like everybody lifted up and came back down," she said.

The Observer has some interesting detail on the pub itself, saying "this human catastrophe could have been far worse if it hadn't been for the layout of the Clutha". The paper has spoken to Brian Nugent, who works opposite, who describes it as "probably the safest pub in the city": "The Clutha has three big wide doors on its premises... I don't want to think how much worse it could have been if there was only one door in and out."

Elsewhere, the Daily Star on Sunday focuses on the actions of ordinary pub-goers and the efforts they made to help those injured. The paper's leader says: "It's the spirit of John Smeaton, the off-duty baggage handler who took on terrorists trying to bomb the city's airport and bravely told them, 'Glasgow doesn't accept this.'"

The Sunday Express also devotes a large section of its editorial to praising "the spirit of Glasgow". It says it is too soon to know what happened, but adds: "What is beyond doubt is that in this city of tears, there should be pride today; pride in the selfless response of professionals and revellers alike; pride too that for those who have lost loved ones, this city's support will carry them through the months ahead."

Asking why

Image caption Most papers also use this image of a Police Scotland helicopter similar to the one which crashed

The Independent on Sunday is one of the papers giving most coverage to the question of what actually led to this incident. It says the model of helicopter, the EC135 Type 2, is "the workhorse of Britain's fleet of air ambulance and police helicopters", but the one which crashed on Friday "was one of dozens grounded in 2012 over safety fears".

The paper quotes Phil Giles, a former air accident investigator, who says it appears from the wreckage - with "blades sticking up in the air" - that both engines had probably stopped. But he says there was likely to have been something else going wrong too "as the craft doesn't seem to have entered autorotation which is the helicopter equivalent of a glide".

The Sunday Times says "the investigation will focus on mechanical faults with a fuel supply failure the most likely cause". It quotes sources who say the pilot was "as experienced as you could get", and fuel supply interruption might explain why both engines could have failed at once.

Statement speculation

We have to wait until Thursday for George Osborne's Autumn Statement, but that doesn't stop the papers devoting column inches to predicting what will be in it.

The Sunday Mirror is sure it'll be bad news. "Apart from a few sweeteners", its leader column says, the chancellor "will deliver a tough message" - "Still more cuts for ordinary families, still more squeezing the poor, disadvantaged and disabled, still more cracking down on money for most government departments."

James Forsyth, writing in the Mail on Sunday, agrees "this wont be a giveaway statement". "Indeed," he says, "The chancellor's Santa sack is light after the conference season," and the "goodies" given out then, such as a fuel duty freeze. Forsyth says he does expect some action on business rates though, freezing them for small businesses.

Will Hutton, in the Observer, says Mr Osborne "will not allow [Thursday] to go by without rubbing in that he was right about the economy". But Hutton says the upturn in UK economic fortunes is not due to the austerity measures, but to the "natural tendency of economies after a long period of recession to swing upward", combined with "interventions by the Bank of England".

Matthew d'Ancona, in the Sunday Telegraph, agrees that "Osborne will claim, with force, that he has won the economic argument", but he adds: "As he and Cameron know all too well, the battle to harvest votes from the recovery is just beginning."

Image caption Easy rider? Prince William got a very enthusiastic reception at the Motorcycle Live event in Birmingham

Hot or cold?

As predicted in Saturday's papers, the government is indeed going to take steps to cut £50 from the average energy bill - taking on the burden of some measures currently paid by households.

Writing in the Sun on Sunday, David Cameron and Nick Clegg say rather than "a fake giveaway" - a reference to Labour's promised fuel price freeze - "we've found another way to support Britain's hard-pressed families when they need it most." The Sun's political editor, David Wooding, says he can exclusively reveal that "a blitz on tax dodgers" will help provide the money to pay for the plan.

But Andrew Warren, director of the Association for the Conservation of Energy, tells the Sunday Express he's not impressed. By taking on the burden of paying for energy efficiency measures - and spreading the cost of a home insulation programme over four years rather than two - it will mean the Big Six energy firms will need to spend less and will earn more. "Their campaign appears to be succeeding in blackmailing the government," he writes.

The People feels the same, accusing the PM and DPM of coming up with "a bizarre plan which lets the Big Six energy firms off scot free". It goes on to say the "unworkable" idea makes Ed Miliband's freeze and planned energy sector reform "all the more plausible". And if that doesn't work, it adds, "nationalisation becomes an even more realistic alternative".

Making people click

What's top of Most Viewed on various newspaper sites:

Independent on Sunday - Rash headlines: Met Office denies predicting three months of exceptionally cold weather

Observer - Shock four-country poll reveals widening gulf between Britain and EU

Sunday Telegraph - Woman has child taken from her womb by social services