'Le Split' and 50p tax 'fury' - the papers

The end of France's First Partnership - between Francois Hollande and Valerie Trierweiler - features on several of Sunday's front pages.

So too does reaction to the announcement by Labour on Saturday that it would reinstate the 50p top rate of tax if re-elected in 2015.

Both the Sunday Times and Sunday Telegraph say the move has prompted anger from party donors and Labour's own former City minister, Lord Myners.

The Independent on Sunday, meanwhile, says the government is launching a scheme to encourage communities to "make their own electricity" in order to "beat the Big Six".

Discussing the papers for the BBC News Channel, broadcaster and playwright Bonnie Greer said the 50p tax announcement was "a very clever move" by shadow chancellor Ed Balls.

"The Conservative Party isn't going to look good defending this. And anybody who is a Conservative Party strategist knows it isn't going to look good defending this," she added.

Nigel Nelson, political editor of the Sunday People, said: "There's a shift in the party. It's going a bit left and some of the old socialist ideals are coming back.

"No longer is socialist a dirty word in the Labour Party as it was under Tony Blair."

'Politics of envy'?

The Sunday People describes it as "the heavy artillery" Labour will use to "blast" the Tories out of office.

The Sunday Express says it is the definitive proof "that the Labour Party is all about pedalling the politics of envy".

Both papers are referring to Labour's plan to bring back the 50p tax rate. The Mail on Sunday, in a similar vein to the Express, calls it is "a sad lapse into short-term, vote-catching irresponsibility" and deems it a sign that Labour "is heading back to its pre-Blair days of envy and spite".

Several broadsheets worry about the impact on growth. The Sunday Telegraph, for one, thinks it "would send out the negative message that Britain penalises aspiration, enterprise and success", and as such, is "a measure of Labour's inability to construct a credible economic policy".

The Sunday Times simply feels it would be "suicidal for the British economy".

But the Observer disagrees. It feels the policy is Labour's "best chance of reframing deficit reduction as a matter of fairness and not just competence". But it does stress that "no party is prepared to admit" what's really needed - much broader tax rises for us all.

Finally, the Sun on Sunday accompanies its story on the matter with a slightly unsettling picture of Ed Miliband and Ed Balls with their faces imposed on the bodies Robin Hood and Little John.

Lib Dem troubles

It's been a tough week for the Lib Dems, thanks to the ongoing row over Lord Rennard and his conduct towards women.

Former Tory MP Louise Mensch, in her Sun on Sunday column, says Nick Clegg's own party rules have left him "utterly impotent" and he must change them in order "to give him at least a smidgen of real power" to deal with any members who transgress.

"The Lib Dems have behaved so ineptly I expect many of their professional women supporters won't touch them with a barge-pole next May," writes Rachel Johnson, in the Mail on Sunday.

Joan Smith, in the Independent on Sunday, thinks Mr Clegg's biggest problem is "the impression that leading members of the party, who are almost without exception male, appear to be oblivious of a sea change in relations between men and women" - and crucially, what is or is not acceptable.

Indeed, "what some hommes d'un certain age seem not to understand is that the kind of overture of which Rennard and [fellow Lib Dem Mike] Hancock stand accused is not just about sex. It is about power," argues Camilla Cavendish in the Sunday Times.

Women in Westminster

On a related note to the Lib Dem issue, several papers take a look more broadly at women in British politics.

The Sunday Express notes that last week Jessica Lee became the fourth woman MP elected in 2010 to say she won't be running again in 2015. It says sexism is still a big problem in Parliament, but while it "is less overt and often unintentional... women are still punished by an unforgiving job that takes little account of family life".

"What is indisputable is that efforts to attract more women into Parliament appear to be stalling," agrees Toby Helm, in the Observer.

Archie Bland, in the Independent on Sunday, says Parliament is the one major British workplace where women "have no right to take maternity leave" and where their shift patterns "are deeply inflexible". He agrees it's hard to know if more women being elected would help, "but at least as far as working conditions go, it seems safe to assume that more women would mean a more hospitable environment".

C'est fini

The confirmation of the break-up "opened the latest act in a bedroom farce that has riveted France", says the Sunday Times, but now the president's aides are worried "the volcanic First Lady may erupt with revelations about her eight years with Hollande".

Image copyright AFP
Image caption First Lady no more: Valerie Trierweiler will leave the Elysee Palace now the split has been confirmed

Anne-Elisabeth Moutet, in the Sunday Telegraph, agrees the French "have talked of little else" for two weeks, yet "still, the media and political establishment is in political denial". She adds: "As I took part in a television panel recapping the week's news, I was fascinated by my three co-panellists insistence that none of this really mattered in the grand scheme of things."

Elsewhere, Catherine Bennett, in the Observer, takes a sidelong glance at the story. She says the examples of Hilary Clinton and Cherie Blair - who "both built something lasting out of their husbands' careers" - have "furthered the bizarre perception of highly visible consortship as, in some way, a triumph for womankind". In fact, the story of Valerie Trierweiler, she writes, "fighting miserably for her borrowed status, may be the more instructive picture of dependency".

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A tale of two cities: Cairo, where at least 29 people died in clashes as Egypt marked the anniversary of the 2011 uprising

Syria regrets

As talks continue - but so far have achieved little - the Sunday Times' leader reflects on the "high price" the people of Syria are paying for the West's inaction - an inaction it blames on "the shadow of Iraq". It goes on: "Early intervention might have meant the end of Assad. But the West dithered, he survived and ordinary Syrians are the victims."

The Observer agrees, lamenting the "painfully inept diplomacy" surrounding the crisis - and the "mixture of arrogance and wishful thinking" displayed by figures like Hillary Clinton and William Hague about the likelihood of the Syrian opposition taking on Assad.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption And Kiev, where opposition figures rejected offers of top government posts and vowed to keep protesting

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