Newspaper review: UKIP 'meltdown' and 'the Scottish lion roars'

"Nige of the Long Knives" is how the Sun headlines its report into the factional fighting which has catapulted UKIP onto the front pages.

With resignations - or possibly sackings - briefings and counter-briefings, Nigel Farage's position as party leader looks tenuous, according to the Daily Telegraph, who say he is "clinging" to power.

The paper divides the party into "Faragites" and "Carswellians" - party figures who it says are close to its only MP, Douglas Carswell.

The Telegraph says Mr Farage has been accused of making UKIP "a toxic brand" by his enemies, who "smell blood" following a clash over back-office money with Mr Carswell and the issue of the leader's three-day "resignation".

A column written by former UKIP MEP David Campbell Bannerman urges the party's many former Tories to join him in "returning to the fold".

Image copyright PA
Image caption It has been an uncomfortable few days for Nigel Farage

Under Mr Farage - who he accuses of being weak on strategy, policy and handling people - UKIP has "failed to gel", he writes.

The paper's leader column says "the case for a proper, contested leadership race is strong.

"It is obvious that the party has issues it needs to resolve, and it would probably be better to do that openly than descend ever more into Byzantine power struggles."

Express Newspapers have been supporters of Mr Farage during the election campaign, and the Daily Express's coverage - headlining the 3.9m votes the party received - reflects that.

It quotes an unnamed party insider as saying: "The overwhelming mood in the party is that Nigel must stay. He is an extraordinary communicator who has led us from obscurity to being the third most popular party in the country."

The Times focuses on calls for Mr Farage to step down from UKIP donor Stuart Wheeler: other party backers have rallied to the Faragite cause.

The paper says the party's faultlines include splits between older members and younger activists; those seeking to make UKIP a US-style "Tea Party" movement and those favouring the centre ground; members focused entirely on an EU exit and those with a wider agenda; and officials based in the UK and the Brussels-based MEPs.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Stuart Wheeler wants to see a UKIP leadership contest

In the Daily Mail, columnist Andrew Pierce brands the tussle "the latest in a series of PR disasters which have rocked Ukip since the election".

He notes that the prize in the leadership battle will be leading UKIP in the EU referendum due in 2017.

Pierce says Mr Farage "knew his [electoral] defeat would unleash enemies who would try to force him out.

"If they succeed, they will have to ask themselves how many of the millions who voted for UKIP last week will stay with the party?"

Material change

David Cameron is to venture north to Edinburgh to meet the SNP leadership of Scotland for a meeting one Scottish paper compared to "entering the lion's den".

The Independent continues the leonine similes, saying the "Scottish lion" will roar at the PM with "hard-hitting demands for more powers".

The paper explains that there is a "gulf" between the two leaders, with the PM arguing that devolution should be limited to proposals agreed in all-party talks in November, but Ms Sturgeon saying the "overwhelming mandate" the SNP won in Scotland means matters must go further.

Image copyright SNP
Image caption The SNP's 56 MPs pose with Nicola Sturgeon in front of the Forth Bridge: the party's support in Scotland is at an all-time high

The Guardian says an SNP source has told it that the party would be prepared to push-ahead with a second independence referendum without the prime minister's agreement if it feels it has a political mandate to hold one in Scotland.

Ms Sturgeon, the paper adds, has "repeatedly stressed that another referendum is off the agenda unless there is a 'material' change in circumstances".

But the Guardian says it is not clear exactly what this means, and clearly many feel an "indicative ballot" could be called if the party replicates its general election success in the 2016 Scottish parliament elections.

The source also tells the paper that the SNP would have "considered fielding candidates in the north of England" to take advantage of Ms Sturgeon's apparent popularity there.

The Daily Telegraph says Mr Cameron will tell the SNP leader that she must "respect" his position as prime minister.

It notes that Downing Street made it clear that the "prime minister would be conciliatory in the meeting" while sticking to his guns over the devolution deal on offer.

The Daily Mail focuses on nationalist anger at a life peerage given to Andrew Dunlop, a No campaigner in last year's referendum, who it describes as the "man who gave Scots the poll tax".

Mr Dunlop's appointment as a junior minister in the Scottish Office was decried as "undemocratic" and "a scandal" by the SNP's parliamentary leader Angus Robertson.

Local challenges

George Osborne's announcement that Manchester will pioneer a "city devolution" scheme, taking devolved powers from the national government and creating a "Northern powerhouse" comes in for much examination in the press.

The Financial Times says the plan will "unshackle" cities from "Whitehall's dead hand".

The paper notes that the "prize on offer" for the devolved city administration is not financial, but "attitudanal".

"Funds for health, housing and skills will shrink for years to come.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Manchester has seized the "powerhouse" mantle

"Far from portending a shower of new money, devolution means ceding control over - and responsibility for - where the axe will fall," it explains.

The Times' leader column says the agreement pioneered in Manchester, and being offered to West Yorkshire, Sheffield, the North East and Liverpool, will allow cities chances to "experiment with innovative ways of addressing local challenges".

It says the move "could spark a Tory revival in the north".

The Daily Mail says the "huge entrepreneurial potential" in northern cities has been "stymied by Westminster".

It says the new scheme seems "encouraging" with Labour-led Manchester embracing the chancellor's vision that will allow the city "to compete more effectively with London."

But it urges Mr Osborne to reconsider shelved Conservative proposals for regional pay bargaining for the public sector.

"Wealth creators in less prosperous parts of Britain" are being "stifled" because their businesses "cannot compete with inflated wage levels in state jobs", the paper says.


The death of one of Britain's longest serving Poppy Appeal collectors comes in for much newspaper attention.

Great-grandmother Olive Cooke plunged to her death from the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol after being "hounded" by begging letters and phone calls other charities asking her to help them too, the Sun says.

Mrs Cooke, 92, ended years of donations "as she struggled to pay her bills" the paper adds, but felt guilty at having to turn down the constant requests.

Image caption MPs have been pressed to look into the problem of unwanted mail

The retired postwoman had sold an estimated 20,000 poppies in her 76 years of service to the Royal British Legion cause, it adds.

The Daily Mail, which is campaigning against cold calling, says Mrs Cooke was "hounded to death" after receiving hundreds of letters and phone calls every month.

A widow, she found it "very hard to say no" to those asking for help, and at one time had 27 direct debits going to charities, the paper adds.

In an analysis piece, the Daily Telegraph notes charities have faced "a public backlash" over direct mail fundraising campaigns targeting would-be donors at home.

The paper says that although there were 18,000 complaints last year about direct mail marketing, and 8,000 over cold calling, "the law remains unclear on the issue".

It adds that although complaints are rising by more than a third each year the true scale of public discontent over the issue could be masked as people face "a web of separate quangos" when they try to get problems resolved.

Bombarded with bugs

What's in the day's lighter stories?

Well, they aren't all happy reading: the Sun reports that we are set for a "swarm summer" with a "record number" of wasps expecting to be buzzing around our picnics.

The paper says experts predict a rise in the pests because the mild spring but cold winter have created ideal conditions for the bestriped pests.

But our al fresco dining is not just threatened from above.

Image caption It's the time of year... for wasp stories in the newspapers

The Daily Mirror reports that Britain could be "bombarded" with all manner of bugs this summer, including "killer ants".

Pharoah ants are migrating from more tropical climes and they can spread potentially fatal diseases by contaminating food.

"The biggest problem will be the wasps - but the ones you really don't want are pharoah ants," a pest controller tells the paper.

The cunning insects are wise to conventional ant poisons, he adds.

Not likely to be bothering you, but still crawly, if not creepy, is the giant crab pictured in the Daily Mail.

"Popeye" was caught off Portsmouth, but has avoided the cooking pot and now lives in an aquarium.

The massive edible crab is 12ins across and weighs 9lbs, a third more than the usual maximum, the paper says.

Popeyes massive claws are four times more powerful than a human hand and could crush your wrist if you get too close, the Mail helpfully adds.

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