Newspaper headlines: Election campaign starts and Alps crash co-pilot's partner 'is pregnant'

Front pages mark the official start of the general election campaign by publishing tit-for-tat claims from Labour and the Conservatives.

However, there is a more reflective tone inside as papers mark the dissolution of Parliament with an assessment of the coalition government's performance.

Michael Savage, of the Times, carries out a "post-mortem of a political marriage". He finds success in its deficit reduction plan and increasing the income tax allowance, broken promises in the form of top-down reorganisation of the NHS and reforming party funding, and clashes over an elected upper chamber and the redrawing of constituencies. The latter, complains the Daily Telegraph, has created the possibility that "the Tories will build up a big lead in the votes cast but have fewer MPs... [and] the prospect of the Scottish National Party intervening to install a Labour government that had taken less of the popular vote".

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The Guardian's A-Z charts the five-year term, with highlights including C for Cleggmania, D for the "Doughnut" of women MPs encouraged to surround David Cameron in the Commons, and R for the "Rose Garden" moment when the PM and his deputy announced the agreement of the coalition deal.

The Financial Times argues the partnership was a success: "The coalition endured and even thrived, despite the apprehension of the larger partner and the political near-immolation of the smaller. Its politically divided nature failed to prevent it carrying through a full programme of government." The Guardian is less keen on the coalition's policies but accepts: "It is right to recognise one striking achievement. Namely, to paraphrase one Whitehall watcher, that it has not only survived but also functioned."

Eye-catching headlines

  • "Birdbrained new law could make feeding pigeons a criminal offence" - A new law allowing councils to ban activities in public spaces is leading to "bizarre criminal offences", says the Independent
  • "Voiceovers Return" - Coronation Street bosses ditched a ban on stars recording the audio for lucrative commercials after a cast "mutiny", reports the Sun
  • "Call me Rover... dog trapped in a car's engine" - the Daily Express describes how fire crews were called to release a terrier called Woody who got stuck under the bonnet of a Vauxhall Corsa
  • "Haunted by dead wife for wearing her slippers" - a spooked widower tells the Daily Mirror how his late wife told him off from beyond the grave, via a clairvoyant

Tax and EU claims as campaign starts


One of those at the heart of the coalition, Vince Cable, reflects on his five-year spell as business secretary in the Independent. "I think I was the bookies' favourite to be first to leave the cabinet," he recalls, but argues: "Although politically and ideologically I was quite at odds with the Tories on a variety of things... I have been able to work with them in a businesslike way."

Cartoonists take their own views. In a sketch entitled Let it Rot, the Guardian's Martin Rowson imagines a cowed Mr Cable - with fellow cabinet minister Danny Alexander - burying the coalition's coffin. Notes pinned to their backs read: "Discard after use, by order G. Osborne." Graveyard plots are reserved for "the deficit", the NHS and the BBC.

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Times cartoonist Morten Morland pictures Mr Cameron asking the Queen to dissolve Parliament, with the monarch - inspired by Labour leader Ed Miliband's recent TV performance - declaring: "Hell yes!" Meanwhile, the Telegraph's Adams captures the Scottish National Party's growing profile south of the border by imagining the PM arriving at Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen, only to find Alex Salmond has beaten him to it.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mirror's Kevin Maguire complains that Mr Cameron is politicising the Queen by making a spectacle of the dissolution. "Her permission isn't required to dissolve Parliament when fixed elections are law. She won't be amused."


Suggestions that the girlfriend of Andreas Lubitz - the co-pilot believed to have brought down a Germanwings airliner in the French Alps - is pregnant with his baby lead some papers.

The Daily Mirror says the woman, a teacher, "announced to her class a few weeks ago she was pregnant and looking forward to family life" with the pilot. But it adds: "Her joy quickly turned to misery thanks to his increasingly erratic and controlling behaviour." The Independent quotes reports from Germany suggesting the couple had been planning to marry.

Several papers go over the cockpit recordings, with the Daily Mail finding the co-pilot's final words "chilling". When the captain asked him to run through in-flight landing checks, it says, Mr Lubitz replied: "Hopefully... we'll see." The Mirror suggests Mr Lubitz can be heard "gently persuading [captain] Patrick Sondenheimer, 34, he can go to the toilet", before the captain left and his co-pilot locked the door.

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The Telegraph says the crash has highlighted different rules around the world designed to prevent a rogue pilot seizing control of an airliner, with South Korea and Singapore requiring continuous mental health assessment and checks on family members. However, while the UK and Germany require psychological screening before and during training, qualified pilots are only required to undergo medical check-ups.

And while reports at the weekend heard from psychiatrists urging people not to use Mr Lubitz's history of depression as a reason to stigmatise others, Peter McKay argues in the Mail that pilots "can't have secrets". He says: "Mental problems are easier to conceal than physical ailments... The secrecy provided by well-intentioned laws governing medical records is surely a bigger worry than the stigmatisation of depressive sufferers."

'Not handsome'

Hardly a day goes by without Poldark star Aidan Turner appearing in the newspapers, usually bare-chested. The Daily Express reports that he's let slip the "secret of his sexy physique", and it's not all down to working out in the gym. "The 31-year-old Irish actor has admitted using 'some kind of baby oil' to enhance his torso in the BBC's remake of Winston Graham's historical novels."

The Mail promises "Poldark... as you've never seen him before", revealing the results of a photoshoot showing Turner ripping open a leather zipped shirt to reveal, once again, his bare chest. Meanwhile, the Sun uses Turner's abdominal muscles as inspiration to launch "Six-Pack Week". It prints a collection of topless shots of stars, such as "David Beckham, 39, Waltham Forest" and "Idris Elba, 42, Hackney", before urging readers to: "Share your sensational stomach with us."

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Turner shows his modest side in the Mirror, however, telling TV editor Nicola Methvan: "I don't look in the mirror and think I'm handsome. I looked this morning and saw spots on my face."

Other reports concern themselves with women's chests, with the Sun complaining of a "BBC cover-up scandal". It reports that The Voice coach Rita Ora "has had a dressing down from BBC bosses" over her revealing clothes. The Daily Star, meanwhile, reports that Britain's Got Talent judge Amanda Holden has to wear "special nipple covers" on TV to prevent them appearing too prominently through her clothing.

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