Newspaper headlines: Election countdown and Greece reaction

Ballot boxes

With the countdown to May's general election reaching the 100-day landmark, the battle is really heating up in the papers.

The Sun launches its "Sunifesto 2015" with policies including clearing the deficit, cutting tax, rewarding work, a better deal on immigration, and reform of the NHS as "cash alone will not work".

The paper says although it has not yet nailed its colours to the mast, it will support whichever party comes closest to its own wishlist.

The Daily Telegraph has an interview with David Cameron in which he says he will cut the benefits cap from £26,000 to £23,000 as a priority in a new government.

In a leading article, the Telegraph says Mr Cameron is right to boast that this move is "deeply progressive".

"Measures that were initially denounced as callous and inhuman... have instead boosted the labour market and the wider economy, while cutting dependency and giving the individuals concerned a sense of purpose and self-worth," it says.

The Daily Mail says as the election campaign enters its final 100 days Mr Cameron has come out "fighting at last like a Tory".

The Mail also warns readers to "brace yourselves for another 100 days of photo stunts like these", picturing Ed Miliband and Andy Burnham at a hospital in Nuneaton and David Cameron and George Osborne at a cider maker in Somerset.

The Daily Mirror says Labour leader Mr Miliband will announce a 10-year-plan to "rescue" the health service, including proposals to end the "scandal of haphazard home care for the elderly".

And the Mirror says anyone who thinks they know with any certainty who will win the election is "either lying or mad".


'Awkward squad'

In the wake of the dramatic general election in Greece, the Daily Mail says Mr Miliband is facing a revolt from MPs on the left of his party who are demanding a Greek-style programme of nationalisation and increased public borrowing.

The Times has a similar story, saying the MPs are demanding significant state investment in the economy and jobs, the railways to be renationalised once their franchises expire and for trade unions to play an enhanced role to combat "excessive corporate power".

The paper's chief political correspondent Michael Savage writes that what he calls Labour's "awkward squad" could bring havoc.

The Sun says: "Desperate people do desperate things. You can hardly blame the Greeks for voting for anything to alleviate their dire poverty. But Britain's leftie MPs who see this as a triumph of their anti-austerity agenda need to grow up. Britain is not Greece. Despite Labour's absurd rhetoric, our cuts were never 'savage'."

The Mail takes a similar view, saying the Greeks delivered an "understandable howl of rage" against the austerity imposed on them, but few who backed the winning Syriza party can believe its "bonkers promises of a massive public spending binge will solve any of the bankrupt country's problems".

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Alexis Tsipras is Greece's new prime minister

In an editorial, the Independent says Syriza's breakthrough is perfectly comprehensible but offering Greece a new deal now would mean incentivising every voter in Europe to turn to militant anti-establishment, anti-EU parties, which its says is "not a good idea". The Financial Times believes Syriza's victory opens a dangerous new phase in the eurozone crisis.

Economist Vicky Pryce, in the Mirror, says it is time for a reality check if Britain thinks it can sit back and enjoy a Greek drama as Brussels insiders tie themselves in knots.

"Uncertainty while Greece attempts to renegotiate its debt will be bad for growth," she writes. "It will also affect the UK, as we depend on the eurozone, our main export market."

The Daily Star takes a look on the bright side, saying British tourists are set for "mega-cheap" holidays to the continent after the eurozone crisis sent the pound "soaring".

Matt's cartoon in the Telegraph has a couple sitting in a taverna, saying to the waiter: "To show solidarity with the Greek people we won't be paying this bill."

The Telegraph says Alexis Tsipras was sworn in as the new prime minister after his radical left-wing movement forged an unwieldy alliance with a far-right party. The Greek coalition was expected to dispatch its new finance minister to Brussels in the next few days, says the Guardian.


'Rapturous applause'

Pictures of the Church of England's first female bishop, the Reverend Libby Lane, appear on many of the front pages.

The Mirror welcomes the move, saying: "Women bishops will inject fresh life into an institution which remains important to so many communities, bringing together good people willing to help others."

The Guardian says York Minister had never seen anything quite like it in all the centuries since the first church was built there in 637 AD.

The Financial Times notes that Bishop Lane's consecration was greeted with thunderous applause in the church. The Independent says her consecration is no less significant for coming so late.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The Reverend Libby Lane, the Church of England's first female bishop

"The internecine battles that preceded her ordination seriously damaged the Church," it comments. "To secularists, the decades of argument showed the Church was irrelevant. For the faithful, they caused pain and frustration."

"Applause rings out for female bishop," is the headline in the Times. "A standing ovation and more than a minute of rapturous applause marked the consecration of the Church of England's first female bishop," it reports.

Peter Stanford, former editor of the Catholic Herald, says in the Telegraph the whole service of consecration had been "deliberately playing down its historical significance" - until the moment a protester approached the altar.


'Unlikely star'

The papers mark the passing of larger-than-life Greek singer Demis Roussos who has died at the age of 68.

In an obituary, the Telegraph says Roussos became an unlikely heart throb in the 1970s when his album sales earned him a place in the Guinness Book of Records.

"With his kaftans, flowing hair, high-pitched warble and impressive waistline, he was an unlikely pop star," remarks the Mail.

Image caption Demis Roussos appearing on Top Of The Pops

The Guardian says few pop artists of the past 50 years achieved such global recognition as he did.

The Independent describes him as "gifted with a pleading, irresistible voice, particularly an operatic falsetto that seemed to hit a nerve and go right through you.

"His hairy physique, huge frame, fondness for kaftans and cheesy choice of material, sung in many languages, made him an easy target for parodists but in the summer of 1976 there was no doubting The Demis Roussos Phenomenon, the title given to his No 1 EP, seemed to blare out of every juke-box and radio."

A cartoon in the Times depicts Roussos with "Greek debt" written on his flowing shirt while singing one of his biggest hits, Forever and Ever.

Finally, the Times reports that it is easier than ever to enjoy your own French chateau.

"Sir Mick Jagger has had one for more than 30 years, while Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie love theirs so much they held their wedding in it," it says.

"However, a tumbling euro and a glut of Gallic castles for sale means that prices have fallen by half in some areas and French agents want British buyers."

The paper says the French are expecting a small invasion, with a decent-sized chateau in reasonable condition in the ever-popular Dordogne available for less than 1m euros (£750,000) and a more dilapidated version on the market for half that.


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