Newspaper headlines: Powers struggle, leadership turmoil and BB King tributes

More than a week on from the general election and the fallout from the poll continues to resonate - particularly over powers for Scotland and leadership questions to be answered.

In the wake of the meeting between David Cameron and Nicola Sturgeon in Edinburgh, the Financial Times says Mr Cameron softened his opposition to transferring extra powers to Scotland.

The FT says the prime minister agreed to consider more powers for Edinburgh than already promised under the arrangement brokered last year by the Smith Commission.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption David Cameron and Nicola Sturgeon met for the first time since the general election

In a leading article, the Times says it was the opening round of a negotiation that will determine the fate of the union.

"Like the Times," it says, "Mr Cameron hopes that sufficient devolution will neutralise the SNP by making independence unnecessary."

In the Telegraph's view: "It is right that these two leaders are talking and good to see that the discussions are respectful and harmonious.

"Ms Sturgeon, however, has to honour the spirit of these deliberations by clearly ruling out the possibility of another independence referendum."

Special talent

The Times looks at the "mystery" over Chuka Umunna's decision to pull out of the race for the Labour leadership - just three days after announcing his bid for the job.

The paper says the "surprise" move means Labour's leadership battle is now wide open.

"It is also a serious blow for the party's Blairite wing," it says. "Mr Umunna was one of its leading contenders to take the job."

The Telegraph says Labour was thrown into fresh crisis after the Blairite shadow business secretary said he was not "comfortable" with the "pressure that comes with being a leadership candidate".

In an editorial, the Independent says what is beyond doubt is that Labour's leadership race has been deprived of a special talent, and the chances of electing somebody who will repeat the mistakes of Ed Miliband's era have just grown sharply.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Chuka Umunna was seen as one of the favourites for the Labour leadership

Matt's cartoon on the front of the Telegraph reminds us of the preponderance of politicians' kitchens starring in the election campaign.

Walking over Westminster Bridge, one man says to another: "There are rumours swirling around that he has THREE kitchens."

The Guardian has an interview with what it describes as the leadership candidate propelled into front-runner status among modernisers following Mr Umunna's sudden withdrawal.

Liz Kendall tells the Guardian that Labour should support a referendum on Europe, embrace business, and advocate "an end to high taxation just to make a point".

And the Leicester MP warns that another election "catastrophe" might mean the party being unable to form a majority government ever again.

Hunting ban

In another leadership scrap, UKIP MP Douglas Carswell says Nigel Farage needs to take a break from the party.

"Leading a political party is a remarkably tricky thing to do. You need drive as well as the ability to motivate others. Being leader means long, often thankless, hours," he writes in the Times.

"Internal uncertainty and external scrutiny are constant companions. It takes a set of rock-solid beliefs and a sense of self-belief to lead a party well.

"On Monday, UKIP's national executive committee made a decision to reinstate Nigel as party leader. Yet even leaders need to take a break. Nigel needs to take a break now.

"Elections are enormously stressful. The immediate aftermath of one is not the time to take big decisions about the future. It takes a team to get the answers right."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Could the ban on hunting with dogs be lifted?

The Express says Mr Farage told his critics to challenge him or unite behind his leadership.

In a thinly veiled swipe at the party's only MP Mr Carswell, the paper adds, Mr Farage claimed an unnamed figure was "agitating for change".

Elsewhere on the front pages, the Independent suggests that the decade-old ban on hunting with dogs could be repealed within a year.

The paper says the pro-hunt lobby, which has garnered the views of the new set of MPs, believes it has enough support to cross the finishing line in its campaign.

The figure of 286 votes is less than half of the 650 in the House of Commons because the SNP has said its 56 MPs will not take part, and Plaid Cymru and the Northern Ireland parties are expected to follow suit.

But the paper believes the new Commons has far more important things to consider, from fixing the economy and the NHS to benefits reform, Europe and the Union itself.

Towering influence

The papers pay tribute to blues legend BB King, who has died at the age of 89.

The Times calls him the last of the great bluesmen from the Mississippi delta whose guitar style and heartfelt vocals influenced generations of musicians.

"In later years King became an eminent symbol of popular music's racial integration and helped to turn the blues into a universal language, after he had been lionised by Eric Clapton and other prominent white rock musicians," says an obituary.

The Telegraph says King was a towering influence over generations of musicians and had maintained a busy touring schedule until late last year when his health declined.

"King was above all a showman, and his willingness in later life to temper his music to suit the tastes of a white audience attracted criticism from blues' purists," says the Telegraph.

"But such carping overlooked the fact that King was also the articulate guardian of much of the blues' heritage, and that he had raised the form almost single-handedly from its backwater status into the musical mainstream."

The Guardian says King ranks only second to Louis Armstrong among 20th Century musicians who were able to combine the roles of game-changing, creative, innovative virtuoso and beloved popular entertainer.

The Independent's music critic Andy Gill says King was the living embodiment of the blues for more than five decades.

Image copyright AP
Image caption BB King: The last of the great bluesmen from the Mississippi delta

The Sun says he was a King in more than just name: "With the passing of BB King we lose not only a music legend - but our last living link to the generation that effectively invented pop music.

"Blues pioneers such as King, men born in the shadow of slavery, introduced rhythms and melodies that remain the beating heat of modern music.

"From rock to rap, funk to free jazz, there is barely a musical genre that does not owe him a debt. Added to that is his reputation for being one of the showbiz world's genuine gentlemen."

The Times also marks the passing of Derek Walker, chief architect of the new town of Milton Keynes 50 years ago, a place famed for its concrete cows and many roundabouts.

"New town mourns its creator... in a roundabout way" is the headline.

"Over an underpass, under an overpass, and after turning a perfect 90 degrees on to a perfectly straight road, you find Milton Keynes's concrete cows," says the paper.

"What you don't find, though, is anyone who has heard of Derek Walker, the man who commissioned them.

"'I'm sure I know the name somewhere,' says one shopper. 'Was he on the telly?' says another."

Vast extravaganza

The papers are full of details about what's in store for celebrations to mark the British monarch's 90th birthday next year.

The Times pictures the Queen enjoying the action at the Royal Windsor Horse Show on its front page.

"Bigger, better and with even more horses than before: a vast extravaganza with 600 of them and 1,500 performers will be held at Windsor," it says.

The paper says the show, which will be tailor-made to appeal to the Queen, will feature cavalry troopers, dancers, Shetland ponies, racehorses, musicians, choirs and a line-up of actors and actresses yet to be announced.

"Katherine Jenkins, without whom no royal performance is complete, will also appear," it continues.

"However another national institution will not be involved. The show will be broadcast on ITV not the BBC."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption No royal performance would be complete without Katherine Jenkins

The Mirror describes how Ms Jenkins helped kick off plans for a special tribute to the monarch's extraordinary life at Windsor Castle.

The Mail says that with the Queen wanting to keep things "low-key" when she becomes the longest-serving British monarch in September, her 90th birthday celebrations are likely to be the biggest royal event since the Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

And finally, the Times reports that ambitious young people are getting drunk on the idea of a very modern career choice: wine.

The increasingly fashionable status of wine, explains the paper, is enticing thousands of 20-somethings to shun conventional degrees for the chance to become a top sommelier.

According to the UK Sommelier Association, the number of young people taking expensive crash courses to become professional sommeliers has increased by 50% in the last two years.

The paper says the courses last almost six months and cost £1,400, after which graduates are getting jobs in fine dining restaurants across the world.

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