Newspaper review: 'Good life' pledge, Alzheimer's breakthrough and Top Gear threats

Wednesday's press is full of manifesto pledges and promises, with the Conservative Party's intentions coming in for the heaviest analysis.

The Daily Telegraph uses the headline "return of the good life", echoing the phrase David Cameron used at the launch of his party's manifesto, promising security and prosperity to working Britons.

Image caption The Good Life: The fact that Margo Leadbetter (L) was a staunch Conservative will not have been overlooked by Mr Cameron

The paper highlights the party's claim to provide policies to support ordinary people "from the cradle to the grave", including "free childcare, help for working-class voters to own a home as well as a plan to reduce the tax burden for middle-income households."

Labour's Ed Miliband asked where the money was coming from for the various policies outlined in the manifesto, and called the document "a deceit", the Telegraph adds.

In its editorial, the paper says Mr Cameron's choice of key phrase evoked memories of the "irrepressibly sunny" BBC sitcom of the 1970s The Good Life, and his messages were similarly upbeat.

It says this contrasts with Labour's "defensive" manifesto launch on Monday, where Mr Miliband's "central theme was a scarcely credible attempt to convince voters he has converted to the cause of fiscal probity".

The Sun also calls Mr Cameron's performance "upbeat".

Its comment page says the manifesto announcements "could be life-changing for low-paid grafters".

Other papers are less "upbeat", including the Financial Times which says "uncosted promises" such as the extension of the right to buy social housing and the freezing of rail fares could "fritter away" the economic credibility the party built up during the five years of coalition government.

The Guardian repeats the uncosted claim and says the Tories are offering "a false prospectus" which "gave no details on the spending cuts - presumably focused on the welfare budget - that would be required to get close to the 2018 budget surplus target".

Image copyright David Higham Associates
Image caption Owen Jones

Worries that the right to buy extension will diminish the stock of low-cost housing also feature prominently in papers critical of the Conservatives.

Columnist Owen Jones in the Guardian says "if you vote for right to buy, where will your children live?"

The Independent says right to buy has led to a "chronic shortage of affordable housing".

It adds that with an estimated third of former council properties now rented out by private landlords to tenants who would have previously been housed in them by local authorities, the policy has led to an "exploding housing benefits bill".

The Daily Mail hits back by claiming that the housing associations who have challenged the right to buy extension are run by "fat cats" on comfortable salaries, who are guilty of "hypocrisy".

The paper says several associations are promising to launch a legal challenge should right to buy ever be extended.

Columnist Alice Thomson in the Times thinks the housing issue could decide the election, as it has in the past.

"We all aspire to own our own home. If the Tories manage to convince voters they're best placed to make it happen, housing will again be the issue that tipped the balance at the election," she writes.


Proven rock

Not all the coverage today is about the "old firm" of Tory and Labour.

The Guardian has an interview with Nick Clegg.

The Lib Dem leader says a coalition is "inevitable" after 7 May and only his party can provide a "proven rock of stability, continuity and conscience".

Image copyright PA
Image caption Nick Clegg told the Guardian that his party would stick to its manifesto promises

Mr Clegg says the alternatives are coalitions of "grievance" formed with either UKIP or the SNP, which would either "dance to the tune of swivel-eyed right-wing backbenchers" or to that of Alex Salmond.

The Lib Dems come in for unusual praise in the Sun for a manifesto commitment they will make to end the "hounding" of journalists who "expose wrongdoing".

The paper says the party's pledge to allow a "public interest" defence on journalists paying informants or accessing computer data is "vital for a free press".

UKIP also launches their manifesto today and the press picks up on Nigel Farage's promise to raise defence spending over 2% of GDP.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Farage says that under Mr Cameron's government "defence of the realm" has fallen by the wayside.

He adds that his party will honour the military covenant by providing the best possible equipment for service personnel and stopping serving soldiers from paying income tax when they are on overseas operational deployments.

The Daily Express has long been sympathetic to UKIP core aims and its editorial says the party "speaks for a large number of ordinary Britons".

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Caroline Lucas and Natalie Bennett (r) launching the Green Party manifesto

It adds: "UKIP's willingness to challenge the politically-correct orthodoxies that hold sway in Westminster is an important democratic force."

The paper gives front page prominence to Mr Farage's assertion that £18bn in tax cuts will be made possible if Britain quits the EU.

The Guardian has long been supportive of environmental policies, but its editorial commentary on the Greens manifesto says the party has "lost touch with what's achievable".

The paper says the Greens are "taking on enormous punt on the economy" in proposing to raise government borrowing from £115bn over five years to £338bn.

"A greener economy and ways of promoting green growth are exactly where the debate needs to be, but it is hard to imagine a democratically elected government being able to deliver the eco-socialist transformation the Greens appear to believe could be achieved in a single parliamentary term."


'New doors'

A breakthrough in Alzheimer's research is the other main story in Wednesday's press.

The Daily Express says researchers from Duke University in the United States say they have discovered a process that leads to the formation of memory attacking plaques in sufferers' brains, and believe they may have a drug that can halt the decay.

The Express explains: "The study found that in Alzheimer's certain immune cells that protect the brain begin to abnormally consume an important nutrient called arginine."

The paper adds that an anti-cancer drug has been found to block this process happening in mice, and human trials may now go ahead.

Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption Brains of Alzheimer's patients shrink due to nerve cell death

"In Britain, around 850,000 people are affected by dementia, 60 per cent of whom have Alzheimer's," the Express notes.

The Independent also leads with the story.

It quotes Dr Laura Phipps, of Alzheimer's Research UK, as saying: "Clinical trials are essential before any potential new treatment can be given to people, but these early findings could open new doors for future treatment development for Alzheimer's."

The paper notes: "A new drug target for Alzheimer's would be hugely welcome in a field where funding and industry's will to invest has been waning, in spite of the growing human and economic cost of Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia."

The Daily Telegraph says the drug being trialled, DFMO, "reboots" the body's immune system.

If the animal trials can be replicated in humans, it "raises the prospect that statin-like drugs could be given to the middle-aged to ward off dementia", it concludes.


Smiley faces

So what other stories have taken the press's collective fancy?

Prominent among these is the tale of the owner of a £15m mews home in Kensington, West London, who has painted her home in garish red and white "stick of rock" stripes after neighbours annoyed her by opposing a planning application.

The Daily Mail interviews various residents of the exclusive street who brand Zipporah Lisle-Mainwaring's unexpected redecoration job "ghastly" and "horrendous".

Image copyright PA
Image caption Kensington's stripy house: readers from outside London may be more shocked by the area's property prices than the paintwork

"It's all a bit silly. Without sounding very pretentious, it isn't very Kensington." another says.

In a feature in the Independent, Gillian Orr recounts other "renovation-as-revenge" stories, including the Cape Cod householder who painted their historic property luminous green and gloss yellow after a similar planning dispute, and the man from Texas whose "purple with smiley faces" house was also a reaction against his neighbours.

At least it was nice weather for the repainting, with the south of England and Wales's moderate heatwave making for much copy.

The Daily Star - as well as using the weather as an opportunity for the obligatory bikini shot - tells us that "millions of Britons" have "thrown sickies" to catch the balmy weather, with seven out of 10 employees in "some firms" expected to phone in unwell.

The Star does not explain its methodology at making this assertion, but it does have Met Office stats to show parts of the UK could reach 26C this week and "sizzle" hotter than the Bahamas.

The Daily Telegraph reports that an Old Bailey judge granted a jury's request to be allowed to go home at 3pm because it was "quite a warm day".

The jury who have for five days been considering the case of four journalists accused of paying public officials for stories, sent a note to the judge saying they had "had enough for the day", the paper adds.

The Sun notes that Britain is only "half-baked" with the north chilling at "its usual 12C".

Image caption Sue Perkins attracted dozens of supportive tweets after being targeted for abuse by disgruntled Top Gear fans

Chilled in another sense, is TV presenter Sue Perkins who the Daily Mirror reports has been forced off Twitter after abuse from online trolls, angry that she has been linked with the vacant "Jeremy Clarkson" role on the BBC's Top Gear.

"My timeline has been full of blokes wishing me dead," the Great British Bake Off host is quoted as saying.

Ms Perkins, who says she is coming off the site "for a bit", adds that the Top Gear rumours are "an utter fabrication".

"Actor Philip Glenister, former X Factor host Dermot O'Leary and model Jodie Kidd are bookies' favourites for Clarkson's old job," the paper adds.

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