Newspaper headlines: Anti-Semitism row 'nightmare' for Labour

The anti-Semitism row engulfing the Labour Party occupies a few of Saturday's front pages, which warn of the potential threat it poses both to the party's electoral fortunes next week and, in the longer term, Jeremy Corbyn's leadership.

The Guardian carries an interview with Mr Corbyn that it says took place "between frantic conference calls" on Thursday, in the hours after comments made by Ken Livingstone that led to the suspension of Mr Corbyn's close friend from the party.

"Perhaps Corbyn's biggest test yet", is how the paper describes the situation, adding that some Labour MPs are "privately admitting that they hope this anti-Semitism row will be the beginning of the end for a leadership they have never backed".

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The Times suggests that Mr Corbyn will face resignations from his shadow cabinet if Mr Livingstone is not expelled from the party, and reports as well the call by a major donor to the party for the leader himself to step down.

At the end of what the Telegraph calls "the most damaging week so far of Mr Corbyn's leadership", senior party figures are said to be "openly discussing the possibility of an attempted coup following the EU referendum".

'Moral blind spots'

The paper highlights polling experts' view that Labour is "on course to suffer its worst result in opposition for 34 years at the local elections" on Thursday. Mr Corbyn's team is "pinning its hopes" on Sadiq Khan's victory in the London mayoral contest, the Telegraph says, "believing it will allow him [Mr Corbyn] to cling on to power".

Sun columnist James Forsyth writes that, with the Tories split over Europe and in revolt at government education policy, "any opposition worth its salt would be making big gains" next week.

"Yet Corbyn doesn't just do political damage to Labour. He leaves the party morally compromised," he says.

"If Labour wants to be a party that reasonable, decent people can vote for in good conscience, it needs to rid itself of its leader and his moral blind spots."

In a "defiant" interview, according to the Guardian, Mr Corbyn says he is "keeping going", and points out: "I was elected with a very large mandate and I have a huge responsibility to the people who elected me."

No "arbitrary figures" have been set for what would represent success in Thursday's elections, he claims, and goes on to say: "You can spend your whole life worrying about plots, coups and manoeuvres... I don't.

"There is always things to fill up your day with in Westminster, but if you are trying to bring about a political movement, a political change, it is not going to happen in this room."


Eye-catching headlines

"Rise of the 'smombies' prompts German trial of traffic lights on ground" - the Guardian reports on a German town's safety measures to protect so-called "smartphone zombies"

"Why ladies just love the SUPER chief super" - in the Daily Express, meet "Britain's sexiest copper"

"Invasion of giant sex-mad superslug" - the Sun is among a number of papers to report on a thriving UK population of giant sleepless slugs

"One small bite for a weasel, one giant hitch for Collider" - the Telegraph reports on the shutdown of the world's largest machine caused by a gnawed cable

"Cherries are on top as Bramleys crumble" - the Daily Mail reports predictions of a shortage of Bramley apples this summer, after growers switched to more lucrative crops like cherries


Queen of comedy

The Russian acting guru Konstantin Stanislavsky famously said there were "no small parts, only small actors"; words borne out by the latest performance by that very occasional actor, the Queen.

In a role of just a few words - including a memorably withering "Oh, really. Puh-lease," as the Guardian spells it - she earns rave reviews in Saturday's papers.

"Four years on from her acting debut alongside 007 at the Olympics, the Queen finally treated the world to an extraordinary encore performance," says the Daily Mail.

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Media captionThe Queen and Prince Harry have responded to Barack and Michelle Obama's Invictus games challenge

The Times says: "So that's the Oscars sorted. For the second time in four years, the award for best supporting royal performance in a video will go to ... the Queen."

While the video to promote the Invictus Games also features Prince Harry, and Barack and Michelle Obama, the paper says it is the Queen's contribution that "can be described without hesitation as the performance of a lifetime".

"The Queen has shown a positively impish side in a hilarious video," says the Telegraph, while the social media response that greeted the video earns her the Daily Mail tag, "Queen of Twitter!"

Testy issue

The Times leads with a report of a planned "kids' strike" on Tuesday, in which thousands of schoolchildren could be kept home from school by parents protesting against tests given to six- and seven-year-olds.

"Head teachers are giving tacit approval and in some cases open support to the campaign, called Let Our Kids Be Kids," suggests the paper, which adds: "The campaign is also supported by mental health experts."

But the paper's leader column argues that the tests, which are intended to assess schools' performance not pupils', "have been carefully designed to closely resemble ordinary lessons" and if "properly administered there is no reason children should lose sleep over them, let alone get stressed".

"For angry parents, lobbying the education secretary to revise the national curriculum or look again at the right ages for national testing might be reasonable. Pulling children out of school is not," the Times insists.

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Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that the Department for Education (DfE) "came under sustained criticism by the usually moderate" National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) at its conference.

The general secretary, Russell Hobby, reportedly said primary schools were being used as "guinea pigs" as the DfE experimented with new forms of assessments.

New grammar tests due to be taken by 10- and 11-year-olds this year are singled out by one head teacher, who suggests they "would have stumped Jane Austen".

In a letter to the Telegraph, new NAHT president Kim Johnson focuses on the government's plan to turn all state schools in England into academies, expressing concern that "the cost of the current initiative... is high and the benefits uncertain".

He says Education Secretary Nicky Morgan's speech to the conference later "must persuade us of the benefits of this project: not in terms of the administrative convenience to government, but in terms of the benefits to children".

The paper says that, despite opposition to the academies plan from teachers, parents and many Conservative MPs, Mrs Morgan is "expected to remain defiant... as she refuses to offer any more concessions".

Cold comfort

Even though it has supplied them with striking pictures of snowscapes, snowmen and sledging children, the papers are none too pleased about the cold snap that's hit the UK.

"Wrap up... it's a Bank Holiday washout," is the headline in the Express, which adds: "Britain is braced for Bank Holiday misery with rain, gales and snow expected to sweep in."

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The Daily Star quotes the RAC's warning that motorists on Monday could face "four seasons in one day", with conditions involving "a tricky combination of sun, wind, rain and ice".

Opinions differ on when things might improve, with the Daily Star citing warnings that "the cold weather could last all through May", at the same time as the Mail suggests "a dramatic shift to summer is around the corner".

All this seems to have brought out something of the philosopher in the Daily Mirror leader column: "The weather is a British obsession along with queuing, good manners, politeness and being nice to animals.

"So enjoy the Bank Holiday weekend whatever the elements have to offer, safe in the knowledge that someone, somewhere, will be complaining it is too hot or too cold, too sunny or too wet."


Making people click

"Prince's final days: few clues pointed to secret behind star's untimely death" - Guardian

"Doctor ready to perform first human head transplant" - Independent

"Italy's 'big babies': court orders father to pay for upkeep of 28-year-old son" - Daily Telegraph