Bankers' pay, North Sea oil and Cameron's 'no coalition' pledge on front pages

Bankers' pay is back in the news, with the Guardian leading on HSBC's decision to award its boss a £32,000 a week "allowance" on top of his salary.

It's a way of "dodging" the cap on bonuses of 100% of fixed pay imposed by Brussels by paying a non-pensionable allowance in the form of shares, says the paper. Its financial editor Nils Pratley says that while the stance - resulting in chief executive Stuart Gulliver's pay increasing from £2.5m to £4.5m - is "shameless", it was "wholly predictable" given the EU directive "was misconceived at the outset".

The Financial Times quotes one analyst pointing out that: "Under the new rule, people get paid whether they perform or not." The paper says that while the payments "will not fluctuate according to performance, it will be able to eliminate them if it faces 'straightened times'... but unlike bonuses, the bank will not be able to claw back allowances in the event of future setbacks".

As the Daily Telegraph sees it: "The effect of the rules has been to take an already complex and opaque pay structure and turn it into an even more complex and opaque pay structure."

Ian King, in the Times, says: "This cannot really be what Brussels intended."

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail identifies another concern arising from Mr Gulliver's comments on Monday, saying he sounded the "death knell for traditional high street banking". It quotes him saying staff will focus more on mortgages and share trading than handling cash or cheque payments.

'North Sea battle'

The i styles the convergence on Aberdeen of both the UK and Scottish cabinets, in the latest round of campaigning ahead of Scotland's independence referendum, as the "battle for the North Sea". And the Times finds the argument of Holyrood's first minister - that an independent Scotland could use the oil industry's tax receipts to create a sovereign wealth fund - to be "seductive".

However, it says Alex Salmond's vision would not "withstand the buffeting it would encounter in the real world", given projections of falling tax revenues. And the editorial concludes: "The costs and risks of developing North Sea oil have been shared by the whole country. The benefits should be shared too."

Telegraph sketchwriter Michael Deacon reckons the first minister and David Cameron are in a "titanic struggle to the death over which of them loves Scotland more" and envisages the PM donning a "tartan bunnet and ginger wig to attend bilateral talks with the Loch Ness monster", ahead of Mr Salmond "dribbling a haggis across Bannockburn" to recreate Archie Gemmill's 1978 World Cup goal against Holland.

For Hamish MacDonnell, in the Independent, the UK cabinet's visit served only to give the nationalists "home advantage". But the Guardian suggests that: "When the memory of the photo ops fades, the lasting importance of yesterday was in nailing down the moment when the whole British political class, and perhaps the whole British nation, became more engaged in the argument about Scotland than before."

The cartoonists give their own interpretations, with Dave Brown in the Independent depicting Mr Cameron trailing a slick and Mr Salmond as a flatulent rear-end beneath a kilt in a sketch entitled Oil... & Gas. The Guardian's Steve Bell imagines the pair as oil rigs facing each other at sea and sums up Scotland's choice as: "Two farts in a hurricane."

The debate even finds its way into the Independent's sports section, where Kevin Garside reckons Olympic bronze medal-winning curler Eve Muirhead "sent a curved stone into the house" of the first minister on her return from Sochi. He quotes her saying: "Nine times out of 10 we represent Scotland... and that's a great honour. But when it comes to the Olympic Games and you get a chance to represent Team GB, it makes it extra special."

Political class

The Daily Telegraph suggests the Conservatives' next election manifesto will feature a pledge not to form a coalition, regardless of whether the party can command a Commons majority.

And the paper's columnist Benedict Brogan reckons the move could "electrify" politics. "As a gambit, it would indeed be audacious. A 'no deals' promise would be a rallying cry to the Right, who have hankered for the risks of minority government. It would be equally perilous. Voters may decide that they prefer their Tory radicalism seasoned with Lib Dem moderation."

According to the Times, some Conservative backbenchers are unhappy about the make-up of the team drafting the next manifesto. The paper says it's prompted No 10 to say it was "completely and utterly untrue" to suggest a small group of Old Etonians was responsible for selecting the policies.

"Nothing has damaged the Tories more than their 'toff' image," says the Sun, which reports the party will produce Sir John Major - the "working class kid from Brixton" who became prime minister - as its "ace card" in a push to "win over ordinary people". He will "declare the Conservatives are the true party for working class Brits", it says.

The paper compares "Tory Toffs" with "Labour Luvvies", giving recent party leaders a ranking out of 10 on "the posh scale". Sir John is the lowest at two, Labour's Ed Miliband is given an eight, while David Cameron is awarded "11". But Labour's total is 35 out of 50, five more than the Conservatives'.

The Mail notes that Conservative chairman Grant Shapps has attacked Mr Miliband's roots, tweeting a picture of him with the caption: "I'm a millionaire son of a Marxist, whose entire life has been spent in political jobs. That's why I understand ordinary people."

Gaffer's 'gaffe'

Image copyright Getty Images

With sports sections focusing on the return to Champions League action of Manchester United and Chelsea, several papers describe an embarrassing incident for the latter's manager, Jose Mourinho.

"Jose TV gaffe," the Daily Mail's headline, as it says he's been filmed complaining: "My strikers just can't score." The paper says he suggested Colombian forward Radamel Falcao should head for Stamford Bridge because he deserved a bigger audience than the "3,000 people" who watch him at Monaco.

Mourinho, who was unaware he was being filmed when he made the remarks, was livid that they became public after being broadcast by French TV station Canal Plus, says the Daily Express. It says he now has to stage a "damage-limitation exercise" to reassure Samuel Eto'o, Fernando Torres and Demba Ba of their importance, despite them having scored just 11 league goals between them.

It may be unfortunate timing, then, that Mourinho will come up against his former first-choice forward, Didier Drogba, when Chelsea play the Ivorian's current team, Galatasary, on Wednesday. The Daily Mirror has an interview with the striker, who says Mourinho was the best boss he ever worked for.

Making people click

Daily Mail: Why did Foxy take a shower? Raffaele Sollecito admits he DOES have questions about Amanda Knox's behavior after Meredith murder

Daily Mirror: How posh are you? Take our etiquette quiz

The Times: Hunt for Yanukovych, wanted 'for mass murder of peaceful citizens'

Financial Times: Moscow takes aim at Ukraine's interim leaders and the west