Newspaper review: Papers split over Labour wage pledge


Monday's papers express differing views over Labour leader Ed Miliband's proposal to give tax rebates to companies who pay their workers more.

"Another weekend," says the Daily Telegraph, "another Labour gimmick."

The Independent says the Labour leader won "rare praise from employers" for his suggestion. And the Sun also commends him for focusing on what it calls "the most important issue for most people" - the cost of living.

But there the back-patting ends.

The Sun agrees firms should pay more, if they can afford it - "but if they can't, a minimum wage job is better than no job at all".

The Telegraph says growth is the way to ensure that people in work are paid more. The paper concludes that Labour has abandoned the task of developing a defensible economic policy and has chosen instead to put forward "temporary relief backed by fatuous slogans".

'Overpowering stench'

Others turn their attention to what the Daily Mail calls "Labour's squalid saga of fraud and coercion" - the continuing controversy surrounding the party's candidate selection process in Falkirk.

According to the Mail, a woman who gave evidence that she had been made a party member without her consent insists that she stands by what she said - her union, Unite, had said she had withdrawn her claim.

The Mail thinks "the whiff of sleaze has become an overpowering stench".

The Times reports that Mr Miliband has come under attack from Labour members in Falkirk for failing to publish a critical report on what happened.

'Historic choice'

The dispute about the benefits of remaining a member of the European Union rumbles on.

The Daily Express endorses a call from Conservative MP James Wharton for a referendum before the end of 2017. He tells the paper's readers that Britain is facing "a historic choice" - and it is time to let the people decide.

In the Guardian, Business Secretary Vince Cable puts the contrary point of view.

He dismisses those he calls "fantasists on the right who dream of a lost world of global empire". Rather, he argues, we gain more from membership than it costs, and "millions of jobs and livelihoods" depend on staying in.

The Financial Times paints a more complicated picture. It says business is divided about several strands of the European argument and even if it could speak with one voice on the subject, the paper wonders whether the public would listen.

Top brass

Governments are told there is no more fundamental task than defending the country from its enemies.

An interview with the new chief of the defence staff in the Times explores who those enemies might be and how the job might be done.

General Sir Nicholas Houghton, who is described as "a straight-talking Yorkshireman", looks at the changes that will need to be made once the withdrawal from Afghanistan has been completed next year.

He says soldiers do not want to be waiting around, playing sport and doing adventure training.

Instead, he envisages more involvement in training local forces in west and east Africa to counter the threat of Islamist terrorism. The Times says he sees the military as "the go-to people whenever there is a national crisis".

'Banana critters'

The Sun has a story to terrify arachnophobes.

The paper tells how a family from south-east London carried lethal Brazilian wandering spiders home with them among fruit they had bought from Sainsbury's.

No-one was bitten but the house had to be fumigated.

The Sun has the headline: "Banana critters."

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