Newspaper headlines: White Christmas, Farage rebuke and political festive cards

There's a festive feel to the papers on the first weekend of December and some reckon we're in for some suitably wintry weather.

The Daily Express reports Met Office warnings for snow - expected in parts on Sunday evening - and says freezing air sweeping in from the North Pole will "send temperatures diving, making some parts of the country colder even than Moscow". It has weather writer Nathan Rao ring around various forecasting centres, with snow predicted to move from western Scotland as far south as the Derbyshire hills, Welsh mountains and even Devon.

It's all "stoking up hopes of a glistening 25th", according to the Daily Star, which insists it's "snow joke... it's gonna be a merry white Christmas".

The Star says bookmakers are facing a prospect of paying out an estimated £20m on novelty bets that snow will fall on Christmas Day, quoting a Ladbrokes spokesman saying: "The mercury has plummeted and so have the nationwide Christmas odds."


Card games

Political party leaders are getting into the festive spirit and the papers can't wait to run the rule over their choice of personalised cards.

The Daily Mail singles out Deputy PM Nick Clegg for special treatment, describing his sequence of photo-booth shots - in which he dons a Santa hat to the amusement of his wife - as a "toe-curling piece of seasonal self-promotion". Readers might suspect the paper features lower down the Lib Dem leader's Christmas card list than the Independent, which reports "widespread consensus that [he] won the battle of the Christmas cards".

While the Times agrees, it doesn't think much of the competition. "Merry Cringemas," is its verdict on the leaders' efforts.

Image copyright various

The Daily Telegraph has a clinical psychologist analyse the messages in the photographs and summarises his verdict on Mr Clegg's as "I just don't care any more." Prime Minister David Cameron's - in which he's pictured with his wife among a line-up of Chelsea Pensioners outside No 10 - is described as "not really a Christmas card at all... more a portrait of power". The analysis suggests he's "trying to make himself look like a statesman".

Ed Miliband's card showing he and his wife helping their children make Christmas cards is interpreted as saying: "I'm a nice guy in a horrible world." The Labour leader wants to "show his human side" but along with the "genuine warmth" comes a "vulnerable image", the psychologist suggests.

The Labour-supporting Daily Mirror gives Mr Clegg 10/10, outscoring Mr Miliband's seven, and the PM a mere five for his "stuffy" effort. The Sun agrees that Mr Cameron's "isn't remotely festive" and suggests the Labour leader's "looks like a focus group thought it up". It adds: "Clegg's at least has a bit of self-deprecating humour to it. And the Lib Dem leader has so much to be self-deprecating about."


Farage 'boobs'

The Sun reckons Nigel Farage is a "real card" for using a Rochester by-election sketch which depicts the UKIP leader running over his rivals in a white van for his Christmas card. However, the Guardian points out he failed to ask the permission of Telegraph cartoonist Christian Adams first.

And the UKIP leader cops flak in several papers for his views on breastfeeding. He'd commented on the case of a mother being reduced to tears at having been asked to conceal her chest with a napkin, at swanky London hotel Claridge's, by suggesting that women could "perhaps sit in the corner" to feed their babies.

The Times says Mr Farage "compounded his condescension" by claiming it was a "matter of common sense". It argues: "It's not common sense for a mother to waste time worrying that feeding a baby in the most natural way possible might offend. Because it's not common sense to be offended by it. It's absurd."

The Telegraph's Jemima Lewis reckons "Nigel's made a big boob". She writes: "If Nigel Farage is to take on the lactating women of Britain, he ought to know what he's up against."

Breastfeeding mothers already tend to be discreet, argues the Sun, which adds: "Old folk, says the UKIP boss, may feel 'awkward and embarrassed' about the whole business. Sorry, Nigel. It's 2014. They can look away, or just get over it." For the Mirror, Mr Farage's "inner distaste, publicly expressed, for breast-feeding mothers exposes Farage as a man who wants to turn the clock back to drab, grey prejudiced 1950s Britain, when women knew their place and that place was out of sight".

Jeremy Clarkson, writing in the Sun, sees things differently. He agrees that breastfeeding is "natural, just like urinating" but argues: "When we want to do that, we go to a little room and do it in private." Meanwhile, Mail columnist Amanda Platell reckons it's a "storm in a £74 teacup". She writes: "Frankly, I'd be reduced to tears if asked to pay Claridge's £74 for a cup of Earl Grey an a few scones."


Aid anger

The progression through the Commons of a bill to commit the UK to spending 0.7% of national income on overseas aid, despite opposition from some Conservative backbenchers, angers some papers.

Image copyright PA

The Sun says "of course we should help those in need" but argues: "Britain already voluntarily meets an aid target of 0.7% of our income. And scandalous amounts end up in the pockets of corrupt regimes once we lose sight of them. Now, pointlessly, we are going to force and future government to stick to this figure no matter what our economic circumstances."

As the Express notes: "The cost of foreign aid is predicted to go up by about £1bn over this year and the next. This is particularly poor timing given that during his Autumn Statement this week George Osborne had to admit that his deficit reduction plans are behind schedule."

For the Daily Mail, it's "morally and financially unsustainable". It argues: "With finances such a mess at home, it is offensive to be sending £1bn every month overseas."

However, the Independent suggests more politicians should have publicly voiced the case for legally enshrining a commitment to foreign aid. The funding, it argues, "not only saves lives - and a good many of them - it furthers trade and diplomatic co-operation. At one-seventh of a penny in every pound spent by the government, it is excellent value for money."


Making people click

Mail: Mother of 'the world's most beautiful girl' defends 'provocative' pictures of her nine-year-old model daughter and says: 'You must be a paedophile to see sex in these pictures'

Mirror: Unemployed dad auctions himself on eBay to raise cash for Christmas...but is bought for just £10.50

Guardian: You can't detox your body. It's a myth. So how do you get healthy?

Telegraph: World's fattest man Keith Martin dies, aged 44

Star: The Man Utd TRIO to be axed by Louis van Gaal to finance £200m spending spree

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