Newspaper review: Papers ponder Tory by-election defeat


The websites of many of the papers carry their initial reactions to the Eastleigh by-election. The headline in the Sun is "Cam-plete disaster as the Tories are third in Eastleigh".

It says the prime minister has been "humiliated" by the fact that the Conservative candidate in the by-election was beaten by both the Liberal Democrats and UKIP.

The Daily Telegraph believes the defeat leaves the Tories "at a crossroads". It demonstrates, says the paper, that David Cameron's announcement of a referendum on Britain's EU membership has failed to neutralise the threat posed by UKIP.

It adds that there is another major lesson to be learned from the result that "far from being obliterated...the Liberal Democrats may not be a spent electoral force".

That analysis is echoed in the Guardian. It thinks the Lib Dem leader, Nick Clegg, will regard his party's victory as "stunning", especially in light of what it calls the "week-long media barrage" caused by the allegations of inappropriate behaviour made against the party's former chief executive, Lord Rennard.

The Daily Mail's headline is "beastly in Eastleigh". It believes the Conservatives will not be the only people who will have to reconsider their strategy in the wake of the by-election. Labour came fourth, a result it thinks will leave the party leader, Ed Miliband, "facing difficult questions".

Bankers' bonuses

The Daily Telegraph is angered by the EU's plans to limit bankers' bonuses - describing them as "idiotic".

It argues that the measures will reduce the ability of European banks to compete with their rivals in New York and Hong Kong.

The Telegraph also views the move as an attack on Britain.

"Given how critical banking is to the UK's economy," it says, "it is very hard not to interpret this as a direct assault on our national interests."

The Independent suggests that while the proposals undoubtedly make for "great populist tub-thumping... in the real world they work neither in principle nor in practice".

The Times describes them simply as "mad cap" - suggesting that they might actually undermine bank reforms already in place.

It points out that banks will simply increase employees' basic salaries - meaning they will be prevented from clawing back the money if those employees' deals fall through.

Covert operations

The Guardian turns its attention to the report by MPs calling for an urgent review of the laws on undercover policing.

The paper's leader says there is no argument about the unacceptability of officers doing things like stealing the identities of dead children.

But it is also disturbed by the lack of external authorisation - and hence accountability - for undercover operations.

"It is not clear to whom the victims can appeal," says the Guardian, "nor to whom the offenders must answer."

"Breast cancer betrayal of older women" is the headline in the Daily Mail.

Written off

It reports that women aged over 70 have only a one-in-seven chance of receiving the chemotherapy that younger sufferers are routinely given.

The paper invites readers to consider a paradox.

On one hand ministers say people will soon have to work until they are 70 before getting their pension, but on the other "the NHS writes us off at that age as too old to deserve proper treatment".

The Daily Express believes retired people may soon be about to give the government a run for its money - on the issue of the "Granny Tax".

This is the plan announced in last year's Budget to scrap the higher tax allowance for pensioners.

The paper says an online petition against the change now has 100,000 signatories - enough to force a Commons debate on it.

Right direction

There is celebration in the Sun that net migration to the UK has fallen by a third in the past year.

"Hasta la visa" is the headline.

In its leader, the paper argues that "the trend is at long last in the right direction".

"There are plenty of areas where the coalition is failing," says the Sun, "but immigration isn't one of them."

The Daily Star agrees, describing the drop in numbers of those coming into Britain as a "massive boost for the government".

Finally, the Financial Times is one of several papers to report how scientists have created "telepathic rats" that can influence one another's behaviour even though they are in different countries.

It is done, we are told, with implants that pick up the rodent's brain activity and transmit it via the internet into the brains of rats thousands of miles away.

The idea, says the Independent, has "literally mind-boggling potential".

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