Newspaper headlines: Alps crash, Easter egg 'war' and election promises

Another day brings a fresh set of claims about the fitness to fly of Andreas Lubitz - the man thought to have deliberately caused Tuesday's plane crash in the French Alps.

The Sunday People leads on the line reported by many papers: that the Germanwings co-pilot was convinced he was losing his vision and that his career would soon be over. "Investigators found the flat he shared with his girlfriend littered with drugs he was supposed to be taking for mental health issues," the paper adds.

When Mr Lubitz tore up a recent sick note declaring him too ill to fly, "it was as if he had finally realised that his childhood dream of crossing the globe in a Lufthansa pilot's seat was all but lost," says the Sunday Times.

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Mr Lubitz's relationship difficulties are combed over by the Mail on Sunday. Quoting friends, it says he split from his partner "weeks ago" after she became concerned about his "increasingly erratic and controlling behaviour". Meanwhile, the Sunday Express claims the 27-year-old flyer had spent time "trawling suicide and gay websites as he spiralled into mental illness".

However, the Observer hears from Royal College of Psychiatrists president, Prof Simon Wessely, that the incident should not lead to people with depression being stigmatised. Around 100 commercial pilots in the UK have some history of depression, with 42 currently on medication, says Prof Wessely, adding: "When they recover they are still monitored. But the two I have dealt with returned to very successful careers."

The paper also reports a "backlash" in Germany against what people in Mr Lubitz's home town feel is a "tasteless rush to judgement". Pilots' organisations have said the conclusion of French air accident investigators - that Mr Lubitz locked the cockpit door and steered into the mountain - is premature, the Observer adds.

Meanwhile, the Sun on Sunday is among papers recording the pain of Mr Lubitz's father, who collapsed when told his son was suspected of being a mass killer.


Eye-catching headlines

  • "The Lord's Strayer" - a churchwarden used the parish magazine he edits to label his wife an adulterer, says the Sun on Sunday
  • "The Burgermeister" - the Sunday Mirror describes how a McDonald's worker, trained at a Michelin-starred restaurant for a Channel 4 documentary, has become the "star of the A38" near Worcester with a gourmet burger van
  • "British Shower Time" - the Daily Star Sunday marks the clocks going forward by quoting forecasters warning of a "soggy summer"
  • "It's the Big Brand Theory as Cox and Hawking trademark names" - the nation's most famous physicists are hiring lawyers to turn their names into trademarks to stop them being used on dolls, T-shirts or women's thongs, says the Sunday Times

Apathy in the UK

Columnists continue to praise Jeremy Paxman's performance in the televised Battle for Number 10 event, while pollsters try to determine whether David Cameron or Ed Miliband "won" the contest. But there is almost as much focus on the electorate as on the politicians or their policies.

In the Sunday Times, Rod Liddle divides the nation into tribes. Worcester Woman, he writes, who "swung behind Tony Blair in 1997 and then deserted Labour for Cameron in 2010", has morphed into Terminally Vague Woman in the West Midlands, while UKIP is benefitting from Diamond Geezer deserting the Tories across swathes of the eastern seaboard. These stereotypes - along with the Labour-supporting Smug London Elitist and SNP-backing Marauding Pict - are "of course offensive and demeaning", he says. But he adds: "They are the sort of stereotypes obsessing our political parties right now The stereotypes who might deliver them victory."

Vernon Bogdanor, who was tutor to David Cameron at Oxford, says in the Mail that we are about to enter a period of political instability because of a "social cleavage between those who have benefited from globalisation, from social and economic change, and those who have been left behind". While Labour, the Conservatives and Lib Dems represent the beneficiaries, UKIP and the SNP represent those who feel underrepresented in the mainstream, he suggests.

Among the alienated, says the Independent on Sunday, are "Generation ZZZZzzzz". At the last election, only 44% of 18-to-24-year-olds voted, compared with 76% of people aged 65 and over, it says. "Sharp rises in student fees, cuts to youth services and uncertainties over housing and jobs have left young people feeling overlooked and ignored by the political climate. Fears are mounting his election that still fewer young people will make the effort to register before 20 April."


Chocolate drops

The supermarket price war has extended to chocolate eggs, according to the Sunday Times. It says:

  • Rivals followed suit after Morrisons slashed the price of its own-brand eggs
  • Cadbury and Nestle eggs are 4% cheaper in supermarkets
  • Lidl slashed a fifth off the price of its One Direction eggs, after Zayn Malik left the band
  • Fortnum & Mason is offering a £3.95 "Chotch egg" - a venison, egg, dark chocolate and juniper combination

Meanwhile, the Archbishop of York is reportedly angry that Asda, Sainsbury's and the Co-op have refused to stock a brand of Easter eggs which feature Christian crosses and contain leaflets telling the story of the resurrection. The Mail on Sunday says one chain even asked: "What has Easter got to do with the church?"

Meanwhile, the Sunday Telegraph has Laura Freeman try out a very different sort of Easter egg - an Elizabethan recipe for a roasted egg which is said to be cooked to perfection "when it begins to vibrate on its skewer". She tucked into two, each with blackened shells, after getting it right at the fifth attempt. But not before the previous four "cracked, split, oozed, dribbled, shattered and rolled off their spits into the fire". She complains: "My boots have been spattered in shell shrapnel and there's yolk in my hair."


'Puerile' politicians

For some columnists, there is despair at the lack of honesty or detail on policies ahead of the election.

Janet Daley, in the Sunday Telegraph, complains that politicians are too interested in making each other look like fools, citing the last Prime Minister's Questions, during which Ed Miliband fell into a Tory "trap" when asking whether the Conservatives would raise VAT. "Politics - the governing of the nation - has now become a game in which pranks and point-scoring of the most puerile kind are publicly indulged and celebrated. What would once have been the stuff of secret sniggering and behind-the-scenes gossip is now the full-frontal essence of the activity," she argues.

Radio host Nick Ferrari writes in the Sunday Express that PR stunts have made the election campaign "more The Voice than it is Question Time". He asks: "What makes politicians think we give a damn about their tossed salads or want to hear them making up children's stories?"

Armando Ianucci, in the Observer, rails against the party leaders' reluctance to answer questions. Addressing Messrs Cameron and Miliband directly, he writes: "You do realise the greater your silences on policy, the greater the fear it shows on your faces that you have absolutely no idea what the electorate is up to? You both know, don't you, that if you engage with us, if you say something sound rather than emit silence, we'll be all ears? Or are you scared of us? Too scared to talk?"

There's a similar plea from the Mail on Sunday, which says: "For the next few weeks, our would-be rulers should lay aside the knuckledusters and abandon poetic pretensions, instead explaining with modesty and honesty why we should trust them and hire them."


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