Scottish independence clashes, London Fashion Week, and spider 'invasion'

The increasingly confrontational atmosphere surrounding Thursday's Scottish independence referendum is captured on front pages.

The Independent's headline sums things up, describing "a nation divided against itself", while sketchwriters report from one of the main flashpoints. The Telegraph's Michael Deacon describes being stuck in the lurching throng at Ed Miliband's walkabout in Edinburgh, as "a bit like being at a football match in the days before all-seater stadiums... Except that in this case what you are watching is not a cup quarter-final but the leader of the Labour Party being pinned against the window of Claire's Accessories".

Ann Treneman describes in the Times a "stampede" when Mr Miliband entered the shopping centre. "It was crazy, anarchic, and dangerous. The crowd pounded by. There was a lot of abuse at Ed (even, it was reported, "Murderer"). A man from the Socialist Workers party had a sign saying: "Don't let the Nazis divide us." Actually, I thought, the Scots are doing a pretty good job of that themselves."

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The Daily Mail's Quentin Letts borrows some language that would be at home in some of Scottish publisher DC Thomson's comic books: "Ooof, crrrump, thwock, splatt went a surging, throbbing meteorite of humanity," he writes. The Guardian's John Crace says: "From time to time [Mr Miliband's] face became visible, his eyes rotating in opposite directions as dozens of camera lenses tried to work their way up his nostrils, but he was mostly only identifiable by the no placard held above his head by a woman who was barely five feet tall."

Describing a "bitterly divided" country in which "intimidation is a currency of a 'Yes' mob", the Daily Mirror's Kevin Maguire says: "Heckling is part of a lively democracy. Accusations of betrayal against the English leader of a British party stink of hatred and xenophobia." Meanwhile, ITV political editor Tom Bradby writes in the Mail that reporters have been subject to the same "bullying". "While I am sure both sides have been guilty, the truth - uncomfortable as it is to say it - is that most of the heckling and abuse does seem to be coming from the Nationalists. Those in Scotland who are quick to abuse and see bias around every corner might want to think about the face they are showing the world."


Smart money?

Ed Miliband isn't the only politician having a tough time, with the Daily Express reporting that Prime Minister David Cameron faces revolt among his backbenchers as a result of the funding promises made to Scots in a bid to convince them to reject independence. The paper says the agreement between all three leaders of Westminster's main parties guarantees £1,400 per head more in state spending in Scotland, compared with England and Wales.

The deal came despite the funding formula being branded a "national embarrassment" by the man who devised it - Labour peer Lord Barnett - who tells the Telegraph that it was originally only intended to be used "for a year or two". The paper also quotes a Conservative backbencher warning of a "bloodbath" in the Commons over the plans. Despite that, the Times quotes the PM insisting he has no regrets over his handling of the referendum.

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Not everyone is taking things so seriously. The Daily Star reports that pranksters set up a "Scottish Border Agency" passport checkpoint at Jedburgh, near the Northumberland border. And it says a diner at a fast food restaurant in Eastbourne was shocked to be served up a piece of fried chicken which "looked like a map of Great Britain - but with no Scotland".

While other papers study the opinion polls, the Financial Times seeks a prediction from the betting markets which suggest the status quo is a "sure thing". One punter is so convinced that he's staked £800,000 on a "No" vote, the paper says, pointing out that while more individual bets have been placed on a vote to quit the UK, the greater sum has been gambled on the Union's continued existence. One firm has already started paying out on a "No" vote, reports the Daily Express.


Nervous times?

The cartoonists also see the funny side, with the Daily Express's Paul Thomas imagining a family watching the referendum results broadcast via a TV show called The Great British Break Off. Dave Brown, in the Independent, pictures Scotland's nationalist First Minister Alex Salmond as a chip shop owner, wrapping up his food in the newspaper the Westminster trio used to make their latest pledge to Scotland.

Peter Brookes, in the Times, ponders the PM's future, imagining him as "Johnnie Sleepwalker" in an advert for "307 yrs old Scotch whisky - now unblended".

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Adams, in the Telegraph, sees Mr Salmond's position in as much jeopardy, picturing him alongside Mr Cameron - a gun and glass of whisky on the table before them - as the pair prepare to play Russian roulette. Pugh in the Daily Mail alludes to what can seem like blanket coverage in the media, picturing a couple watching a "Scotland Decides" TV show, with one muttering to the other: "What's all this? First I've heard of it!"

Meanwhile, the Mirror captures the debate raging in Glasgow's football stands. It pictures Rangers fans flying Union flags at Ibrox, while chief sports writer Oliver Holt points out that for many Celtic fans in the "Yes" camp, the dream of joining the English leagues "will be killed stone dead" if the country votes for independence.

To read what the Scottish papers have to say, click here.


Scary stuff

"Giant spiders are poised to invade Britain," declares the Daily Star, after hearing from Australian scientists who say rising global temperatures and easier access to food mean the creatures are getting "bigger, better fed and having more babies". To hammer home the message, the paper superimposes a huge image of a spider to appear as though crawling across its front-page headline.

Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that as the "annual invasion" gets under way, with autumn marking the mating season for spiders, ecologists have launched an app to help people identify which species has wandered into their front room. Named Spider in da house, the app "lists descriptions and photographs of 12 of the most common spiders found in homes from the approximately 660 species in the UK", the paper says.

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Some Britons have been coming face-to-face with something altogether more frightening, according to the Sun. Some 211 sightings of vampires have been reported in the last 100 years in the UK, more than in Transylvania, says the paper. It identifies Yorkshire and Lancashire as vampire hotspots, with 11 sightings each in that period.

Mirror reporter Rod McPhee - nicknamed "Count" for the assignment - researches some of the most chilling cases. They include the Surrey Vampire, which reportedly attacked a woman three times in as many months in 1938, a creature in Croglin, Cumbria, with a "brown shrivelled face and long bony hands" and Glasgow's Iron-Toothed Vampire, said to have devoured two boys in 1954.


No pomp?

The papers wrap up their coverage of London Fashion Week, with several writers noting changes on the scene. "Technology is no longer satisfied with being part of the story-telling process: it wants to be the fashion story itself," writes the Telegraph's Lisa Armstrong as she desperately tries to get to grips with her Diane von Furstenberg-designed Google Glass. She despairs at their inability to grab people's attention until: "Finally someone gives me the up and down - but when their gaze comes to rest, it's on my Jimmy Choos."

While the Telegraph is distilling 56 shows and 24 presentations into the 10 trends that matter most, the Guardian is wondering why there was no "riot of excess". Jess Cartner-Morley writes: "A fashion show is attitude as art, peacocking as commerce. But this LFW was different. There was no bombast, no pomp. The clothes on the catwalk were understatement, rather than statement dressing. Instead of strutting in six-inch heels, all high steps and flared nostrils and arched eyebrows, the models were in flat shoes, and they just - well, they walked. Like, you know, normal people."

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Chloe Hamilton, writing in the i, is grateful that plus-size brand Evans had its own show this year. The rest of the events she sums up with the description: "Identikit parades of skeletal women prowl down the skinny catwalk... Collarbones jut fashionably from beneath the strips of cloth that barely cover their modesty, or their protruding ribs and their strikingly beautiful but gaunt faces all say the same thing: I'm hungry."

The Mail's Sarah Vine has little time for the whole shebang, complaining: "It's all so pointless and pretentious. More to the point, it's incredibly boring for the rest of us." But her main gripe seems to be with Dame Vivienne Westwood who, Vine writes, "has made a fortune out of peddling Britishness". Bringing us full circle, the writer adds: "Why, then, did she send her models down the runway at London Fashion Week with Scottish 'Yes' badges pinned to their lapels? And why did she tell reporters that anyone voting No to the break-up of Great Britain was 'stupid', adding that she 'hates England'?"


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