New Year's honours questioned and 'boasting' beggars in the headlines

New Year's Honours recipients

The New Year's Honours list gives the papers a chance to pull out pictures of some of Britain's best loved stars - and enjoy some good wordplay.

It's a "(very) good life" for Penelope Keith, says the Times - with a nod to one of the actress's best-loved comedy programmes - as she's made a dame. "Great dames," says the Guardian, as it notes that more honours are going to women than men for the first time.

The Daily Telegraph interprets the CBE for businesswoman Karren Brady as "Cameron's Best Entrepreneur" - a reference to her having recently joined the prime minister on a government trade visit to China.

"It's all gong Pete Tong," says the Sun, twisting a popular slang phrase when reporting the DJ's MBE.

Meanwhile, the Times highlights the damehood for Alison Carnwath, the chairwoman of property firm Land Securities who tried to veto the bonus of former Barclays boss Bob Diamond before the bank became embroiled in a rate-fixing scandal last year. "Nothing like a Dame," it says in its comment, adding: "Shame on those who did not [speak out]."


The Daily Mirror isn't impressed, however. "It's all gong wrong," says its headline, complaining about awards for "Tory cronies", and saying in its comment that David Cameron "parachuted a former Tory staffer into the civil service as head of his appointments unit".

Likewise, the Daily Mail points out that awards also went to a City PR chief who's holidayed with the PM, a Conservative donor and "even the woman who runs [Mr Cameron's] supper club".

Three MPs - two Conservative and one Labour - who were previously criticised over expenses claims have been knighted, reports the Daily Telegraph.

Reviewing the papers for the BBC News Channel, Daily Mail contributing editor Ian Birrell said some of the names on the list showed that "too many people serving time in the establishment roles, the political sycophants, civil servants etc are still getting knighthoods."

However, Times comment editor Tim Montgomerie argued: "Seventy-five percent of people who get honours aren't on the front page of newspapers, they aren't... people we recognise… most honours do go to people who don't get financial rewards for the community or other work they do."

And, writing in the Telegraph, Harry Mount says it's the honours system's "nonsensical nature that lends them their Ruritarian air of mystery and charm", adding: "Don't expect the honours system to behave like some dull, functional machine, instead of the amateurish, enchanting hodge-podge it has always been."

The Daily Star's cartoon pictures Queen looking fed up as the Duke of Edinburgh reads the list and rants: "...Doesn't deserve one!... Never heard of him... or her... that one must be a joke!!... WHO?!?"

Boasting about begging?

The Sun travels to Romania where it claims the first coachload of migrants have boarded a bus bound for the UK. And it says that among them was a convicted thief, along with others intent on stealing scrap metal or raking in benefits. It quotes some as saying they plan to beg for a living.

"They are remarks to chill the blood," its comment says, although the paper still finds time for a joke. It lists helpful Romanian translations for phrases such as "will you charge less than my Polish builder," and "will Harry sign me for QPR?"

The Daily Mail reproduces a Bulgarian poster offering discounted tickets to the UK, as it notes that flights from both Romania and Bulgaria are sold out and buses are full.

Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph suggests that recruitment agencies are offering Bulgarian migrants practical tips on how to exploit the UK's benefits system, and the Daily Express's editorial bemoans the fact that no-one was given the chance to vote over whether there should be another wave of migration.

The Guardian describes a "politics of fear" having built up around migration, saying "popular anxiety has been ratcheted up unscrupulously as the deadline for lifting movement controls on Romanians and Bulgarians approaches", despite the fact "most of those who want to work in the UK are probably here already".

Its cartoon, by Ben Jennings, pokes fun at measures to charge some migrants for NHS care by depicting casualty staff rushing a patient on a trolley, with the doctor yelling: "Quickly, get this man a chip-and-pin machine!"

Cartoonist Dave Brown, in the Independent, follows a similar vein, sketching David Cameron performing a medical on a man, with the words: "Now cough... up!"

Sochi security

The press mulls over two bombings in two days in the Russian city of Volgograd and draws unhappy conclusions.

For Daily Mirror security correspondent Chris Hughes, the attacks are "grimly reminiscent of the build-up to the terrorist 'spectaculars' in the mid-2000s. Then suicide bombers blew up two airliners a week before seizing Beslan school."

As Luke Harding, in the Guardian, sees it: "The twin suicide attacks in the city of Volgograd are a calculated challenge to Vladimir Putin on the eve of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics." In Harding's opinion, Russia cannot guarantee security at the Games.

The Times says some will argue that the bombings play into Mr Putin's hands as a "pretext for a security crackdown" but adds: "This is hardly the overture that Mr Putin wanted for a Sochi Winter Olympics intended as a showcase of Russian hospitality".

The Independent's Mary Dejevsky says the Russian authorities' response "won't be pretty" but adds: "Security at Sochi will seem draconian, but remember the warship in the Thames, the anti-missile batteries on roofs and the soldiers staffing checkpoints at the London Olympics."

'Prince Farming'

News that the Duke of Cambridge is to undergo a bespoke 10-week course in agricultural management is interpreted in a variety of ways.

As the Daily Express sees it, William is training to look after the "family business". It's referring to the Duchy of Cornwall, the £763m 130,000-acre estate he will inherit when Prince Charles becomes king.

"I've got a brand new combine harvest-heir," is the headline in the Daily Mirror, which says the duke - who it dubs "Prince Farming" - will spend part of that period away from his wife, Catherine.

And the Daily Telegraph has a theory about that: "Sooner or later, every new father yearns for a bit of peace and quiet away from nappies and night feeds, and the chance of going back to university for a term might seem like a dream come true. If you happen to be a future king, such flights of fancy are not beyond reach."

Making people click

Independent: Brain function 'boosted for days after reading a novel'

Times: Birthday plans cancelled as family maintains vigil at racing driver's bedside

Guardian: Comment: We need to talk about TED | Benjamin Bratton

Financial Times: China confident that it aced local debt audit examination