Newspaper headlines: Miliband and Cameron under fire, deadline day 'ruined'

A war of words appears to have developed in some papers, with business leaders attacking Ed Miliband's response to criticism from the boss of retailer Boots.

When asked about Stefano Pessina's opinion that a Labour government would be a "catastrophe" for the UK, the party's leader had responded that the Monaco resident "ought to pay his taxes" rather than "lecture people".

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It's prompted several business chiefs to criticise Labour, with the Daily Telegraph highlighting complaints that personal attacks "stifle debate".

And the paper's editorial accuses Labour of being "inexorably anti-business", arguing: "Occasional lip service has been paid to the power of capitalism to create wealth and jobs.

"But it has been drowned out by attacks on landlords, energy suppliers, railway companies, financiers, bankers and anyone else who appears to be, in Mr Miliband's eyes, a 'predator' rather than a 'producer'."

Under the headline "Pizza boss: Ed is half-baked", the Sun quotes Pizza Express founder Luke Johnson saying Labour was "ignorant of the way markets and capitalism works".

Meanwhile, ex-Marks and Spencer boss Lord Rose compares the party's policies to "bell-bottom flares and denims", calling them a "seventies throw-back" in the Daily Mail. He suggests Mr Miliband should "walk the floor" in UK businesses - in the way chief executives do - to "find out what's happening in the real world".

However, Labour has hit back by pointing out that "no-one should be surprised" that Lord Rose - a Conservative peer - is attacking the party. And Mr Miliband finds support in the Daily Mirror, which argues he is "right to make ending tax avoidance by wealthy international speculators a big election issue".

Eye-catching headlines

  • "Steroid peril of squaddies" - British soldiers have created a cult of bodybuilders within their ranks pumped up on illegal steroids, nicknamed "Op Massive", says the Daily Star
  • "Pub swaps beer for Holy Spirit" - the Daily Express on how the West End pub in Stoke has been transformed into a Methodist church
  • "Filthy... Shades of Grey" - Censors have given the film adaptation of the "raunchy best-seller" Fifty Shades of Grey an adults-only rating, notes the Sun
  • "Stop that binge jogging" - Research suggests strenuous running could pose greater risks to the heart than light exercise, reports the Daily Mail

Hard times tables

If the headlines make uncomfortable reading for Mr Miliband, he'll be relieved to know his opposite number is not having it much easier. The Mirror places dunces hats on the heads of David Cameron and Education Secretary Nicky Morgan for failing to answer times table questions, a day after announcing that 11-year-old pupils should know their 12 times table.

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Meanwhile, Independent cartoonist Dave Brown pictures the PM as a headmaster flexing a cane while declaring: "We're waging war on innumeracy... all schools must be above average."

It's a reference to Mr Cameron's comments that schools labelled by inspectors as requiring improvement would be expected to become an academy.

Guardian sketchwriter John Crace was at a north London school to hear Mr Cameron dodge a "what's nine times eight" question as he launched his "war on mediocrity" in education.

He reckons the PM's reply about only doing times tables in the car with his children was "rather gentler on his own possible failures than those of any eight-year-old".

"It was a total bog-standard fail," reckons Ann Treneman, of the Times.

The Telegraph's Michael Deacon reckons the school's maths teachers were lucky the audience was composed only of adults.

"If impressionable children had been exposed to Mr Cameron's influence, the consequences for future lessons would have been - much like nine times eight - incalculable," he says, imagining a pupil-teacher conversation: "I do times tables only in the car with my parents on the way to school, sir... Oh, for pity's sake, Jenkins. How many times do I have to tell you not to listen to the prime minister?"

Book 'backlash'

A biography of Prince Charles provides plenty for the papers to get their teeth into, with the Times leading on claims the prince has made clear he "doesn't like being used to market weaponry and now sidesteps such activities".

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The book's author Catherine Mayer offers other nuggets from its pages in the paper, which reports a "furious backlash" from Clarence House.

"Catherine Mayer must, it seems, be doing something right," the Times's Valentine Low suggests.

The Telegraph records Clarence House's claim that Mayer overstated the access she was given to the prince, "which amounted to a nine-minute conversation, according to an aide".

However, it still finds room on page one for a story suggesting the prince almost called off his wedding to Diana "because each knew that their relationship was deeply flawed".

Inside, the Telegraph dedicates another page to claims from the book including details of the prince's first meeting with the Duchess of Cornwall, his loneliness in the Royal Navy and opposition to countries banning the burka.

Meanwhile, in a two-page report labelled "The Meddling Monarch", the Daily Mail explores Charles's attitude towards the future of the Royal Family.

It suggests the prince is intent on "slimming down" the monarchy and that he worries that the Duchess of Cambridge's family is exerting an ever-stronger influence over Prince William.

Dull deadline day?

Football's January transfer window may not have been as frenetic for English Premier League clubs as the previous two but a Telegraph chart shows £116m still exchanged hands.

And the Daily Mail is among papers detailing key moments of the deadline day deals, including the 6.37pm confirmation that Chelsea had signed Colombian winger Juan Cuadrado and earlier jokes from giants such as Crawley Town who tweeted a photograph of their chairman's usual parking spot being reserved for Sergio Aguero.

In its five-page special, the Sun has two signings that weren't even transfers as its highlights - the extended contracts penned by Tottenham striker Harry Kane and Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho.

The Guardian notes that Crystal Palace were busier than most clubs, having made Wilfried Zaha their sixth signing of the window.

Meanwhile, the Daily Express calculates the player - "Sir Alex Ferguson's last dabble in the transfer market" for Manchester United - cost the Old Trafford club £400,000 per minute for each of the 28 he spent on the pitch in league action.

The Independent has learned 10 things from the window, from the importance of statistics - highlighted by Arsenal's use of performance analytics in the signing of Gabriel Paulista - to the prominence of players' partners, as demonstrated by the fiancee of Newcastle United's Davide Santon complaining at his loan move to Inter Milan.

Meanwhile, Times sport-on-TV writer Giles Smith finds Sky Sports News's deadline day fun ruined after the broadcaster took measures to keep roving reporters out of reach of the usual throng of expectant fans because one was "menaced by a fan with a purple adult pleasure enhancer" outside Everton's training ground last summer.

"Nick Collins spoke to us from deep inside a locked Emirates Stadium, where any Arsenal fan wanting to assault him with a marital aid would have had to have thrown it extremely hard and extremely accurately," he complains.

"It was like staging the Last Night of the Proms in a church, without an audience."

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