Newspaper headlines: 'Class war on private schools', and David Mellor's 'rant'

On a day when few "big themes" dominate the press, two newspapers lead with news of Labour proposals to change the tax status of private schools.

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Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt is to announce that non-state schools will have to pay business rates unless they "strike up a formal partnership with a state school".

The Daily Telegraph, which dubs the plan a "class war" proposal, says private schools have been able to avoid paying £141m a year in rates, due to their charitable status.

It adds that the change could add £200 a year to the cost of private education.

Barnaby Lenon, who chairs an organisation that represents many independent schools, tells the paper the plans are "a very ineffective tool to improve social mobility in any meaningful way.

"Already 90% of our schools are involved in meaningful and effective partnerships with state schools and their local communities."

Mr Lenon claims private schools generated £4.7bn in tax and saved the taxpayer a further £4bn by educating children who would otherwise go into the state system.

The Telegraph notes that Mr Hunt himself was privately educated.

The Guardian also leads on the proposals.

Image caption Tristram Hunt

Mr Hunt, who outlines the plan in the paper, says it aims to break the "corrosive divide of privilege", which he dubs a "Berlin Wall in our education system".

"The next government will say to [private schools]: step up and play your part. Earn your keep. Because the time you could expect something for nothing is over."

The Guardian says: "Hunt's plan amounts to an assault on the privileges of the elite.

"It was in the pipeline before recent claims that Labour is out of touch with its working-class base, but his plan may reassure those wanting the party to make a clearer attack on inequality."

The Daily Mirror's editorial backs the plan, saying "tearing down the Berlin Wall between the 93% majority and the 7% minority paying fees would unlock potential and be good for Britain".


Stentorian

Turning from Labour politics to Conservative politicians, the papers analyse two true blues who have both been notably upping their media profiles in recent months: Theresa May and Owen Paterson.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Mrs May: "Serious"

The suggestion is that the home secretary and the former environment secretary are manoeuvring for their party's top job, should David Cameron fail to retain power in 2015.

The Daily Mail previews a profile of Mrs May to be published in a magazine this week which claims the Maidenhead MP "views Downing Street as 'incompetent' and has a 'vision' for the future of the Conservative Party".

The paper says Mrs May has become "the activists' favourite" to succeed Mr Cameron, should he stand down. The article claims she views Boris Johnson as "a 'faintly ridiculous' figure and is determined to prevent him becoming leader".

The Mail's sketch writer Quentin Letts says Mr Paterson and Mrs May's "high-profile speeches" in recent days had "the unspoken sub-title 'make me leader of your pack'."

In his light-hearted guide to the two, Letts says: "Vicar's daughter Mrs May is serious. She makes Angela Merkel look a bit daytime TV."

Mr Paterson, Letts reckons, "is an altogether friskier - I almost said madder - proposition, with the red cheeks of a countryman. His newsreader-style barnet has turned a bluey grey but there is a gleam in his headlights".

Image copyright PA
Image caption Mr Paterson: "Friskier"

Sketch writer Donald Macintyre in the Independent watches Mrs May deliver her speech at the Royal United Services Institute, on new anti-terrorism measures.

"This was mainly a new version of the speech which she gave so successfully at the Tory conference - with some of the more rhetorical flights stripped out for the more impassive audience of securitocrats," he says.

Macintyre adds: "Mrs May is a politician to her fingertips. She may not walk like a man but among the men - and they are mostly men - hoping to inherit the Tory leadership, she is, for all her recent troubles, still a contender."

The Times' sketch, by Ann Treneman, is of Mr Paterson as he outlines his vision of how Britain could leave the EU.

Mr Paterson - "the bane of David Cameron's life" according to Treneman - delivered his speech in something "just short of a bark, stentorian, syncopated, punctuated with forays into fluent French and German.

"The whole event had the feel of a uni guest lecturer on the verge of an intellectual breakthrough," she adds.


Living room

The news that BT could be poised to move back into the mobile market, nine years after it sold off its Cellnet division, sparks considerable interest.

The Financial Times says the telecoms giant was in talks to acquire either EE or O2 "in a £10bn bet to become a fixed line and mobile phone powerhouse".

Image copyright BT
Image caption BT could soon be "making people happy" again if predicted price falls happen

The paper says EE and O2 are "worried about their UK operations as competitors ramp up efforts to sell packages of mobile, broadband and TV".

BT tells the FT discussions are "at a highly preliminary stage".

The Sun says that City analysts are more certain that a deal will go ahead and think that Sky will have to follow suit in what it calls the "battle for the UK living room".

Its comment says the move could result in consumers paying lower tariffs for calls and package deals as BT and its rivals enter a price war.

The Guardian says BT's decision to sell off its mobile branch has been characterised as "one of the worst strategic errors in UK corporate history".

The paper notes the stock market has welcomed BT's announcement, shares rising by 3.7% to 394.1p.

The Daily Telegraph notes that "BT is relatively financially powerful thanks to its ownership of the national fixed-line telecoms network, taking a cut of the profit of every broadband subscription.

"It has been issuing thinly-veiled warnings that it will significantly undercut rivals when it re-enters mobile."


'Sweaty'

Following the story of Labour MP Emily Thornberry's tweet that may or may not have sneered at a flag of St George festooned home in Rochester, the Sun says it has another example of a political grandee "sneering" at a working person.

The paper splashes on a secret recording made by a London cab driver of former Conservative minister David Mellor berating him following an argument about which route the man was taking.

Image caption David Mellor was dubbed "minister of fun" in John Major's cabinet

Although the Sun doesn't publish the initial exchanges, the transcript it does publish shows some strong language by the barrister and broadcaster.

He calls the unnamed cabbie "sweaty and stupid", a "smart-arsed little git" and a number of other things which are quite impossible for the BBC to print.

Mr Mellor tells the driver he has "ruined" his partner's day - the couple had earlier been at Buckingham Palace where she received a CBE - and says he will mention the man on his LBC radio show.

Mr Mellor lists his achievements and tells the driver, "you think that your experiences are anything compared to mine?" before saying the cabbie should "get a better education" before "getting sarky".

The driver - who recorded the outbursts on his mobile phone - tells the paper: "In my job you get spoken to badly all the time, but I've never been on the end of anything like this.

"Mr Mellor made me feel like something he'd found on the bottom of his shoe. He spoke down to me like I am a second-class citizen".

The former Putney MP told the paper: "This man seriously provoked me and ruined a wonderful day.

"Once I had lost my temper, which I regret, he then secretly recorded me. I will leave the public to judge his actions."

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