The front pages: Michael Gove's 'raid' and a BBC row

"Open war" has broken out within the ranks of the coalition government, according to the Observer's lead story.

The cause of the conflict, the paper says, is a £400m "raid" made by education secretary Michael Gove on his department's Basic Need budget - a fund designed to ensure local authorities have sufficient school places to meet demand in their area.

The paper says Mr Gove needed to transfer the cash to help plug a projected "£800m black hole" in spending on free schools between 2013 and 2016.

The Observer says a source has told it Mr Gove let spending on free schools "spin out of control".

The reduction in the Basic Need budget was said to be fiercely resisted by schools minister - and Lib Dem MP - David Laws.

Another source (or possibly the same one) tells the Independent on Sunday that Mr Gove was a "zealot", determined that his "pet project" should not fail whatever the cost.

The Department of Education, it adds, has rejected the claims.

A spokesman told the paper: "Free schools will create tens of thousands of new places in areas of need."

The Sunday People's comment column calls Mr Gove "an obsessive" about free schools, despite the fact that Ofsted found them "failing three times more often than normal ones".

The paper says if many more free schools fail basic standards inspections, the whole programme "should be reconsidered".

The Sunday Times carries a counter-attack on behalf of Mr Gove with an "education source" telling the paper Lib Dem gripes are "a pathetic attempt.. to divert attention from their botched school food policy".

'Smiling nicely'

With the European elections just 11 days away, the attention of the political classes (and political journalists) is how well the "big three" parties will cope with Ukip's burgeoning support.

In the Sunday Telegraph, David Cameron makes a direct appeal to would-be Ukip voters.

In a half-page article written for the paper, Mr Cameron says only his party can deliver an in-out referendum on European Union membership. He said he would resign if he does not deliver on his pledge.

Image copyright PA

The PM continues that he is the only party leader optimistic about Britain's future, comparing the others to Dad's Army's Private Fraser, known for his "we're doomed" catchphrase.

Writing in the Sunday Times, Adam Boulton says the choice of who succeeds Jose Manuel Barroso as president of the European Commission will be crucial to whether Mr Cameron is able to negotiate a "new deal" for Britain in the EU.

Pinpointing the PM's main battle as being in the corridors of Brussels, Boulton says Mr Cameron should "stop smiling nicely in the shadows and fight [European federalists] in the open".

Perhaps none of this matters, points out the Observer.

It has commissioned a poll which found that 90% of voters cannot name any member of the European Parliament for their region.

Its findings also suggest that voter turnout could be lower than the 34% who cast their ballots in the equivalent European elections in 2009.

The Sunday Express leads on one potential source of solace for Mr Cameron.

The paper says pro-hunting lobby Vote-UK has promised to mobilise 15,000 supporters to canvass for the Tories - proving the party promises to repeal the hunting laws.

Vote-UK say they could deliver 36 parliamentary seats for the Conservatives in 2015, if they made a firm election pledge.


Lead story for the Mail on Sunday, is the tale of David Lowe, a veteran BBC Radio Devon presenter who was asked to "fall on his own sword" (ie resign) after playing a song containing a racist word.

The song was The Sun Has Got His Hat On which - to the surprise of Mr Lowe and probably quite a few other people - contains "the N word" in its original 1932 version.

Mr Lowe, the paper says, immediately offered to apologise on air for his "genuine error" but was told not to mention anything by his bosses.

After persisting in his quest to apologise and offering to resign, the Mail says the station's acting head told Mr Lowe "I think we will have to accept your offer to fall on your sword to resolve the situation".

In its comment section, the MoS accuses the BBC of double standards, comparing its treatment of Mr Lowe to that of Jeremy Clarkson, who was accused of causing offence with the same word in unbroadcast footage.

The paper says the BBC's "contortions" on the issue are common to all public bodies and are motivated by "fear of the modern internet mobs which can gather in minutes when they spot an offence against political correctness".

The Sunday Times quotes a BBC statement which accepts the conversation with 68-year-old Mr Lowe "could have been handled better" and says he is welcome back on air to present his show, Swingers and Singers.

Mr Lowe, the paper adds, has declined the offer, saying that his health has suffered through the stress of the situation.

'Anybody's kids'

The plight of the 200 plus Nigerian schoolgirls, kidnapped by fighters from the Jihadist Boko Haram group is still making big news.

The Sunday Mirror is one of many papers to run with US first lady Michelle Obama's open support for the #bringbackourgirls campaign.

Mrs Obama said she and her husband were "outraged and heartbroken" by the mass kidnapping and "can only imagine the anguish" the girls' parents are going through.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Demonstrations of support for the hostages have been held all over the world

The Observer interviews British Nigerians about the subject.

Many tell the paper they fear any return to their homeland due to the security position in the country.

Speaking of the kidnap, one woman tells the Observer's reporter: "I've been thinking about it all the time and I find it so upsetting.

"It could be anybody's kids.

"The attitude of the Nigerian government is very selfish - they all have their kids safely tucked away in some private school."

The Sunday Express reports on "Africa's new and terrified diaspora": The 60,000 women it says have fled Nigeria in fear of Boko Haram's attempts to enslave them.

It quotes humanitarian group the International Rescue Committee, which estimates 1,000 refugees a week are fleeing to neighbouring Niger. Eighty per cent are female.

The Daily Star Sunday reports that a "crack SAS team" is in Nigeria and has joined the hunt for the missing girls.

The paper says the British team will use "state-of-the-art surveillance and radar equipment" in a bid to help locate the girls, who the paper believes are being held close to the border with Chad.

The Star understands any rescue mission would be mounted from a French military base in Chad.

'Quietly ditching'

Another story about creaking NHS services makes the front page of the Sunday Telegraph.

The paper reports that one in six GP appointments - 47 million in total - involved a wait of more than a week for the patient.

Image copyright Thinkstock

It adds that at some hard-pressed surgeries, waits of more than a month for appointments have been recorded.

It says the Royal College of GPs is warning that family doctors are "buckling under the demands of an ageing population" and that "only those who shouted the loudest" were able to secure help quickly.

The paper says care minister Norman Lamb has said GPs need to "make better use of technology to free their time for longer appointments".

However one piece of technology the NHS seems to be struggling with is highlighted in an Observer report.

It says the health service is "quietly ditching" its Choose & Book electronic booking system for outpatient appointments.

The paper says the decision is a "further sign of the difficulties of introducing efficient IT systems into the health service".

It notes the system has cost £356m since its introduction in 2004, but has proved unpopular with many doctors and patients.

A new e-referral scheme - due to come on track by 2016 - could be even more expensive, the Observer adds.


It's that time of the year when we learn all about how the super-rich have become even super-richer.

The Sunday Times unveils its Super-Rich list with the news that the UK now has more billionaires per head than any other country and London - with 72 - is the global capital of plutocrats.

The paper's analysis shows that the 88 billionaires in the UK in 2013 (there are now 104) increased their wealth by £55.4bn in the past 12 months.

At the very pinnacle of the UK's mega-wealthy are brothers Srichand and Gopichand Hinduja, London-based Indian industrialists, whose joint wealth is £11.9bn, the paper says.

The Uzbekistan-born oligarch Alisher Usmanov, who is joint owner of Arsenal FC, slips from top place to second with a mere £10.65bn.

His wealth has dropped due to the fluctuating value of the Russian rouble, the paper states.

In attempting to analyse London's appeal for billionaires, the paper quotes Phones4u founder John Caudwell - who is worth £1.5bn in the latest list.

He says the city "is unbelievably accepting of different wealths. You've very opulent wealth right next to very ordinary working-class people".

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