Newspaper headlines: Ed's new 'leadership crisis'

As always on a Sunday there are lots and lots of stories in the press.

On this particular Sunday, one man's name is inescapable in every paper: Ed Miliband - is his leadership in crisis? Will he be overthrown as Labour leader? Is it all just newspaper froth?

The Observer tells us that "20 shadow cabinet ministers" are "losing patience" with Mr Miliband and are "on the brink of calling for him to stand down".

The paper says it has been contacted by three senior party members to confirm the size of the potential rebellion.

One tells it: "There is a significant number of frontbenchers who are concerned about Ed's leadership - or lack of leadership - and would be ready to support someone who is a viable candidate".

The "viable candidate" who the unnamed Labour rebel wants is former Home Secretary Alan Johnson, who said on Friday that he "had no intention" of going back to "frontline politics".

The paper adds that the plotters do not want a leadership contest, but would just like Mr Johnson to be persuaded to take over from Mr Miliband.

The Mail on Sunday claims shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt is one of Mr Miliband's doubters

The paper says Mr Hunt told Labour colleagues that the Labour leader's plan to get out and about more to meet the voters has been "a complete failure". Mr Hunt has denied the story.

The Mail carries a Survation opinion poll suggesting that 36% of Labour voters, and 47% of all voters, believe Mr Miliband should quit to help Labour. Mr Johnson and shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna are preferred successors.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Simon Danczuk

It also has an opinion piece from Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk who says he opposes a leadership contest, but thinks Mr Miliband should stop projecting himself as "a personality" and let cabinet colleagues have more of the limelight.

The Sunday Times also carries a poll - this one from YouGov - suggesting that only 34% of those who voted Labour in the last election believe Mr Miliband is "up to the job" of prime minister.

The paper says, "the findings will heap new pressure on the beleaguered Labour leader and shatter any "35% strategy" to win the next general election, which depends on keeping on board the voters who supported the party in 2010."

The Sun on Sunday says the mutineers have lined up former health secretary Andy Burnham as an alternative leader, after Mr Johnson "ruled himself out".

The paper also says a Tory source has told it that the party's MPs have been urged by Conservative strategists to do what they can to keep Mr Miliband as Labour leader.

The Independent on Sunday leads on the fading of support and funding for Labour from the Jewish community, after Mr Miliband voted to recognise Palestinian statehood.


'Surfing a savage tide'

As it is a big political story, there is no shortage of comment from pundits and leader writers.

The Sunday Mirror's opinion column says "it is pointless to pretend there is not a problem with Ed Miliband".

But it adds, he "is not going to stand down and no one is going to challenge him" so "what is needed is for him to tell us how he sees the future for Britain and the British people.

Image caption Andy Burnham was a candidate for the Labour leadership when the position was last contested, in 2010

"He needs to wheel out Labour's big-hitters like Yvette Cooper, Andy Burnham and Alan Johnson to put his campaign back on track."

Adam Boulton, writing in the Sunday Times, says, "Listen carefully and even those Labour politicians rushing to Ed Miliband's defence this weekend stop short of saying he is doing a good job as leader."

Instead, the feeling Boulton says, is summed up by David Blunkett's quote: "When you are standing on the edge of a cliff, it is unwise to believe that by jumping you will suddenly learn to fly."

Columnist James Forsyth in the Mail on Sunday says "Team Miliband" has retreated into "bunker mode", but he says in his opinion the Labour leader will remain in his post as "there's no one available who'd do better".

He adds: "Ironically, Miliband the radical, the man who wants to break the Thatcher-Blair political consensus of the past 30 years, has come to be seen as the embodiment of a loathed political Establishment."

In the Observer, former Guardian editor Peter Preston examines Labour's charge that the "coup" talk has been whipped up by a hostile press.

Preston says Mr Miliband is being "monstered" by right-leaning papers, but he has also been the author of his misfortunes.

"Newspapers can't destroy politicians or political parties... but they can catch a baleful mood, surf a savage tide," he adds.


'Crimson tide'

On Remembrance Sunday, there is much reflection on the sacrifice made through the ages by those fighting Britain's wars.

Three stories predominate: the tight security surrounding the official Remembrance Service at the Cenotaph; the success of the Tower of London's ceramic poppy installation, and the suitability of prolonging that display.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Four million people have viewed the ceramic poppies at the Tower of London

The Sunday Telegraph says a "ring of steel" will protect the Queen and other dignitaries in central London after concern over potential terror plots by Islamists .

"Armed police, undercover officers and soldiers will form what security experts described as a 'multilayered' cordon around the Royal family, the Prime Minister and leaders of the main political parties as they prepare to lay wreaths at the Cenotaph in Whitehall.

"Security will also be stepped up at other war memorials around the country where events are being held," the paper adds.

The Sunday People says it will be a "day of defiance" as millions of Britons are set to defy the terrorist threat.

The paper quotes two security experts who say the UK "leads the world" at breaking up organised plots by gangs of extremists, but the fear is of an attack by a "lone wolf fanatic".

The paper is one of many which pictures London's most popular temporary tourist attraction, the "crimson tide" of 888,246 poppies flowing from the Tower of London and around its moat, to symbolise Commonwealth dead from World War One.

The Mail on Sunday devotes a two-page spread to the poppies - which are due to collected from the Tower in the next fortnight.

It reports from the scene, and speaks to the first visitors to see the poppies illuminated on Saturday morning.

Three teenagers who had driven from Birmingham, tell the paper they had foregone their usual Friday night out to witness the "now or never" spectacle.

Image caption The Cenotaph

One, whose grandfather had fought at the Somme, tells the Mail: "it's not until you see it close up that you appreciate the enormity of it."

The installation's two-week extension - originally they had been intended to be dismantled after the Remembrance ceremony - has not pleased everyone.

India Knight, in the Sunday Times, says the various pleas for the installation - which has been at the Tower since August - to remain in place longer are "childish".

"The whole installation is about transience and loss; making it about permanence and our own delight in the symbolism of ceramic flowers would turn it into something else altogether and gradually strip it of meaning.

"It's wonderful that so many tourists saw them but the poppies were not conceived as a tourist attraction... the poppies aren't there to give us something pleasing to look at - an aesthetic treat before heading off to an evening out," she contends.

Elsewhere in the paper, critic AA Gill calls the poppies "impressive" but " curiously bland" and says that the nation's permanent war memorials make a "more moving" evocation of sacrifice.


Heavyweight

This blogger always tries to bring you a flavour of some of the lighter stories in the newspapers and this Sunday there are all sorts of them.

Have you done anything that has made you feel stupid recently?

Well fear not, because the Sunday Times says you may have just caught a virus from green algae.

Image caption Eric Pickles - a hit east of the Urals, according to the Sun

The paper reports research from America which has found a virus in some human brains that seems to affect thinking power "including spatial awareness and attention span".

The virus - ATCV-1, usually found only in the water-dwelling slime - is infectious and was detected in 40 of the 92 people scanned in the study.

Talking of green slime, the Sunday People reports an unusual Christmas treat that may make some recoil.

The paper reports that Marks & Spencer are selling sprout juice to "wash down your turkey and roast spuds".

Other unusual festive offerings the paper has found in supermarkets this year, include Sainsbury's popping candy chocolate spread, Iceland's duck in doughnuts, and Tesco's pigs-in-blanket flavour crisps.

From food that divides opinion, to a politician who does - but not in Siberia.

The Sun on Sunday claims "cabinet heavyweight" Eric Pickles has become an unlikely cult heartthrob in the Russian city of Novosibirsk.

The communities secretary is "bombarded" with requests for signed photos from female admirers from the university city - which he has never visited.

But the no-nonsense Yorkshireman, has now requested civil servants in his department to delete such requests, to save government money on postage.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Larry: now the undisputed top cat in Downing Street

One political figure who has been kicked out in the cold, according to the Mail on Sunday, is Number 11 Downing Street's cat.

The paper reports that George Osborne has sent Freya the cat to live with a party worker from Kent after the feline "lost a battle for his affections" with his Bichon Frise dog, Lola.

Freya - who looks frankly terrifying in the paper's picture - was scaring Lola, an "insider" tells the Mail.

However Mr Osborne's staff said it was the tabby's propensity to roam - often turning up miles away, south of the Thames - that convinced the chancellor to let her go.

The paper notes that Freya had been involved in a well-publicised fight with David Cameron's cat, Larry.

It must be the right time of year for political cat-fights.

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