WW1 row and 'devil cast out' in newspapers

As is often the case, political stories dominate the Sunday headlines, with both the prime minister and leader of the opposition taking to the papers to announce policy plans.

David Cameron tells the Sunday Times he wants to keep raising the state pension until at least 2020 and "cut taxes for all workers".

Ed Miliband, meanwhile, uses his piece in the Independent on Sunday to make a pledge to close a loophole on agency workers that allows British firms to employ foreign workers more cheaply.

Elsewhere, a row about interpretations of World War One escalates in the Observer, and the Mail on Sunday reports on the removal of the words "devil" and "sin" from the christening service.

Discussing the papers for the BBC News Channel, journalist and writer Eva Simpson said that, judging by the headlines, "the gun has been fired" on the 2015 general election race.

On David Cameron's pensions announcements, she said it was a strategic decision by the prime minister to target the elderly first, adding: "They are the people most likely to vote."

Whitehall correspondent for the Sun Emily Ashton said: "It's all about how much money people have in their pocket. All politicians are trying to prove that they can help them get a bit more money."

Everly remembered

Every paper pays tribute to Phil Everly, one half of inspirational pop duo The Everly Brothers, who has died aged 74.

"They rewrote the rock 'n' roll rule book and became one of the most influential acts in musical history," says the Mail on Sunday.

Image caption Pioneer mourned: Phil, left, and brother Don performing in 1964

Such was the influence of the pair "that Sir Paul McCartney used to impersonate Phil and said that John Lennon pretended to be Don when they were young," says the Independent on Sunday.

"I feel like a huge piece of my youth just melted away," writes a very upset Brian May, in the Sunday People. The Queen guitarist says he "learned to play rhythm guitar and how two-part harmonies work" from The Everly Brothers.

The Sunday Express is one of many papers to mention Phil and Don's "turbulent relationship" and "decade-long estrangement". But its leader notes that Phil "never doubted that their strong sibling bond was the secret to the pioneer rock duo's success".

"It was often hard to know where one voice ended and another began, though the resulting meld was in part shaped by the tension between the darker strains of Don's personality and Phil's sunnier outlook," writes Neil Spencer in the Observer.

No let up

Meteorologists have coined a new term for the current bad weather patch. It's the Ebdon effect, according to Jonathan Leake in the Sunday Times. It is named after "a little-known Met Office scientist", who in 1975 "discovered that when the equatorial jet stream changes direction and starts flowing west to east along the equator - as now - it sharply raises the risk of a succession of powerful storms hitting Britain".

Chairman of the Commons Environment Committee Anne McIntosh has called the current situation "a national emergency", with "no sign of the worst weather in two decades relenting", reports the Mail on Sunday.

The Sunday Mirror is unhappy at what it sees as the short-sighted decision to cut 1,500 jobs at the Environment Agency. It says those coping with "fortitude and doggedness" in the face of floods and power cuts cannot succeed "without effective help", and thanks to the government's cuts, "they'll get even less next time."

Although the coverage varies from paper to paper, all seem to agree on one thing - there's more trouble to come. "Whitemare", is the Sun on Sunday's headline, as it warns of ice and snow which will hit the country "as soon as the storm clouds clear".

Nevertheless, the Sunday Telegraph's Matt cartoon finds gallows humour in the misery, depicting a man heading outside with a bucket, telling his wife: "I'm just going to scrape the barnacles off the car."

Pension plots

"Clever political positioning" - that's the Sunday Times' verdict on David Cameron's decision, revealed in its own pages, to publicly declare his commitment to the pensions triple-lock until the end of the next Parliament. Neither the Lib Dems or Labour have yet promised to do the same, its leader notes, and the PM's move "reflects his confidence in the country's long-term prospects".

The Sunday Telegraph says the changes are welcome, but with the UK's ageing population, "we will need to move towards greater reliance on the private sector before bankruptcy looms".

Help for the elderly - some of them at least - is certainly needed, according to the Sunday Express, which reports that "impoverished pensioners are stealing to survive the recession". The paper doesn't have any sympathy for the "silver shoplifters", mind you, adding: "After all, they are old enough to know better."

Image caption Ice work: Several papers wow readers with images of icy architecture created in Harbin, China

Opening salvos

The general election might be more than a year away, but there's electioneering aplenty in the papers.

Several carry a poll not likely to cheer up David Cameron over his cornflakes on Sunday morning. Carried out by big party donor Lord Ashcroft, it found that 37% of Tory voters would not vote for them again if the election was held now.

"Why? Because however his skills may stack up against Ed Miliband's, his policies are simply not fair," says the Sunday People's leader. Nevertheless, Lord Ashcroft himself, writing in the same paper, says Tories "should keep calm" even when, as he predicts, UKIP will do well in the European elections in May. The People also has an exclusive on Labour's "election battle-plan" - the "12 costs of Cameron" campaign - which includes accusations about rising costs of childcare, rail fares and energy on the PM's watch.

"Lord Ashcroft chucks a big bucket of chilly water over Tory optimism," writes Andrew Rawnsley, in the Observer. He says Mr Cameron faces a "strategic conundrum" ahead of the 2015 election - how to "appeal to some of the UKIP-inclined defectors" without repelling more centrist voters.

The Sunday Mirror has a warning for Ed Miliband, saying the Tories have managed to come back from positions like this before and the Labour leader "still has a lot to do to persuade voters that, however much they don't trust the Tories, they can trust him".

Labour might also come up against strategies like the one set out by Toby Young in the Mail on Sunday. He wants supporters of UKIP and the Conservatives to vote tactically and "pledge to swap their votes" in marginal seats to ensure Mr Miliband won't secure a victory.

Image caption Smiling through the pain: As he's carried off the pitch on a stretcher, Theo Walcott manages to point out his side's winning margin, 2-0, to opposition fans

Life or death

Westminster and Brussels are currently at loggerheads over the issue of whole life jail terms, with David Cameron suggesting that US-style 100-year sentences could be a suitable compromise.

One of his former MPs, Louise Mensch, writing in her Sun on Sunday column, agrees. "Cameron will get plaudits for being seen to be tough on crime," she says, adding that compared with being "strapped to a gurney" in the US, "100 years in jail is a kindness".

Archie Bland, in the Independent on Sunday though, fundamentally disagrees, arguing that "without a hairline of hope" of release, "those in prison become more dangerous". "This is not liberal weediness. It is a cold, rational analysis of the facts," he writes.

Making people click

Observer - Steve McQueen: my hidden shame

Mail on Sunday - "We heard a pop like pottery cracking"

Independent/IoS - Cambridge history professor hits back at Michael Gove's 'ignorant attack'

Mirror - Newborn baby boy found abandoned in a toilet at Sports Direct warehouse

Sunday Telegraph - Rise of the exorcists in Catholic Church