Newspaper review: 'Maggie's dream is back'

Monday's press was full of talk and analysis of Labour's election manifesto - and there's still plenty of that today.

But the main stories on Tuesday concern details to be unveiled in the Tory manifesto - with a revival of the right to buy policy being at the forefront.

The Times explains the plan is to extend the right to buy scheme first introduced nationally by Margaret Thatcher to grant 1.3m housing association tenants improved discounts if they want to purchase the homes they have been renting.

Image caption About 1.5m local authority properties have been sold to tenants since Margaret Thatcher introduced the policy in 1980

The £18m scheme will be financed by forcing local authorities to sell off their more expensive properties when they become vacant. A £1bn fund to build new houses on brownfield sites will create 400,000 new homes to replace those sold, the Conservatives claim.

"Tory strategists hope that extending the 'right to buy' will win favour among working-class voters in marginal constituencies," the paper continues.

In its explainer, the Times notes that former Tory minister Michael Heseltine has claimed the original right to buy policy was "the single most important contributory factor" in the Conservative victory in 1979, after the "Winter of Discontent".

The Daily Mail hails the return of Mrs Thatcher's "visionary policy", saying that Iain Duncan Smith, Boris Johnson and David Davis had been pushing for the move to be a central plank of the Tories' manifesto.

The paper adds: "As well as promoting home ownership, the scheme could also dramatically reduce the vast housing benefit bill."

The Daily Express also welcomes the expected announcement.

Its editorial says: "Giving people the opportunity to buy their own home... is about more than a roof over your head.

"Owning a home means stability and security.

Image copyright PA

"Home ownership is also a reward for people who work hard, do the right thing and save wisely - the sort of people a Conservative government should put first."

The Guardian reports that the pledge has been criticised by housing associations, councils and housing charities.

It quotes Ruth Davison of the National Housing Federation as saying: "It won't help the millions of people in private rented homes who are desperate to buy but have no hope of doing so, nor the three million adult children living with their parents because they can't afford to rent or buy.

"To use their taxes to gift as much as £100,000 to someone already living in a good quality home is deeply unfair."

Lib Dem spokesman Lord Paddick says the plan will result in "longer waiting lists for homes and fewer social houses".

"It does nothing to tackle the country's affordable housing needs and will only benefit the lucky few," the Guardian quotes him as saying.

'Way too low'

Health issues are prominent in Tuesday's papers, with the Daily Mirror ignoring the manifesto launch by the Conservatives in favour of leading on a story about how the NHS has been affected by the "slashing" of its budget.

The paper says a report by the union Unison suggests that 65% of nurses say patients "are missing out on basic care because of the chronic understaffing".

The Mirror says Unison's report - based on a survey of 5,000 nurses - claims the frail and elderly in hospital may go without pain relief, food and even water because of staff shortages.

Image caption Unison says many wards operate with fewer nurses on duty than the watchdog Nice recommends

The paper's editorial says staffing levels on many wards mean there is "an accident waiting to happen".

"It won't be the overworked, underpaid staff to blame when unsafe staffing levels result in a death.

"Responsibility will lie squarely with hospital bosses and their political masters."

In other papers, the focus is on the lack of funds reaching those researching new treatments for dementia.

The Daily Telegraph says the condition receives one-thirteenth the funding that cancer research does, although its cost to society is greater.

The paper says looking after dementia sufferers costs Britain £11bn a year, but only 8p is spent on research for every £10 that is spent on care.

The Telegraph adds: "Academics at Oxford University said the disparity may be driven by ageism and the belief that diseases like Alzheimer's are an inevitable part of getting older."

The Daily Mail calls the research spend "a disgrace".

The paper adds that the spending on research into stroke remains "way too low" as well.


In the non-political stories, there is considerable interest in the possibility of "robo-chefs".

A fully automated metallic chef has been developed by a British company, the Times explains, with the "ability to make any recipe in existence".

As well as being versatile, the Robotic Kitchen device will not make Gordon Ramsay-style rude gestures, or converse in "mockney" like Jamie Oliver, the paper adds.

The robot - at present only programmed to prepare crab bisque - could be used to prepare an evening meal while its owner commutes home, the Times continues.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption How things used to be done in the old days....

"If it can do a crab bisque then it can do a lot of things. It can make a bowl of porridge, or toast and scrambled eggs. My big hope is for breakfast," says Masterchef winner Tim Anderson, who is "teaching" Robotic Kitchen to cook.

The firm behind the idea hope to have a £10,000 robo-chef on sale to the public within two years, able to download new recipes in the same way apps are sold today.

The device, its makers assure the Times, will operate behind a glass screen, for safety reasons.

The Sun reports on another breakthrough in kitchen technology which should make astronauts' year-long stints in the International Space station more bearable.

The paper says a special espresso machine has been constructed which will work in zero gravity. It is due to be blasted up to the ISS today, along with 4,000lb of other essential supplies.

The machine was designed by coffee firm Lavazza after complaints from an Italian astronaut that the ISS "only had instant", the paper adds.

Another technical "marvel" that is fascinating that papers is Wendy, the "talking dog" featured on this weekend's edition of Britain's Got Talent.

The Daily Express says Wendy - who sang the pop song Feelings, amid much banter - is believed to have been wearing a prosthetic mask over her mouth, operated by her owner, French ventriloquist Marc Metral.

A disapproving RSPCA spokesman tells the paper that the organisation will be contacting the show to discuss exactly how Wendy "spoke" , adding "dogs should never be forced to wear anything".

The Daily Mail reports the stunt has attracted 21 complaints to Ofcom and 35 to ITV.

A spokesman for the show tells the paper: "We are comfortable that Mr Metral's act complies with the guidelines."

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