The papers: Politics, property prices and Miliband's groceries

George Osborne Image copyright AFP

Politics looms large across Wednesday's papers, ahead of the European and local elections on Thursday.

The Telegraph leads on a warning from Chancellor George Osborne that the generation-old "political consensus" around Britain being an open market economy is "under threat" from "opportunist party advantage".

The paper reports on a speech Mr Osborne will make on Wednesday, which it says is an attack on Labour and the UK Independence Party - despite noting the chancellor does not specifically mention any party, referring instead to "parties on the left and the populist right".

Reviewing the front pages on the BBC News Channel, former Labour Party spin doctor Lance Price said he did not think Mr Osborne's approach was the right one.

"The Conservative Party has talked for three years about the 'global race'", he said. "But it gives a lot of people in the country the feeling they are being left behind."

Political commentator Miranda Green told the BBC News Channel it was interesting that the bosses' organisation the CBI, where Mr Osborne will deliver his speech, is more concerned about political "mini earthquakes" such as the Scottish independence referendum and the possible in/out referendum on the U's membership of the EU.

"If you've got a large international company which wants to invest in Europe, they are seriously looking elsewhere, rather than this country," she said.

Bubble trouble?

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Several of the papers analyse the decision by the part-taxpayer owned Lloyds Banking to limit mortgage lending to four times income for loans worth more than £500,000.

The Times leads on the story and says the bank's decision chimes with views raised by the departing deputy-governor of the Bank of England, Charlie Bean.

It quotes Mr Bean as saying the current financial and housing markets are "eerily reminiscent" of the build-up to the 2008 financial crisis. And while saying something should be done to prevent a new property bubble, Mr Bean says "it is a brave central banker who would deliberately induce a recession in order to head off the mere risk of a future financial correction".

According to the Daily Mail, buyers in London and the South East are demanding "mega mortgages driven by soaring house prices" which they can "barely afford". And the Mail quotes Ray Boulger of mortgage brokers John Charcol, who believes Lloyds are hoping to "prevent more draconian action from the Bank further down the road".

The Guardian picks up on the issue that underpins much of the debate surrounding Britain's housing market, a lack of supply of new homes. The paper speaks to Business Secretary Vince Cable, who says 300,000 houses should be built each year, whereas the current figure is around 125,000.

The Daily Mirror fears an "out of control housing market". It says Prime Minister David Cameron has admitted the government may have to scale back its Help to Buy mortgage assistance scheme, after Bank of England governor Mark Carney indicated potential borrowers may have to face affordability tests.

Price leader

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One of Labour leader Ed Miliband's key messages is that his party will tackle Britain's "cost of living crisis". So the papers have much to say about his assertion on Tuesday that his family's weekly food shop costs around £70.

The Sun says his estimate, made on ITV's Good Morning Britain, marked the start of a "disastrous day on the campaign trail" and he "made the slip-up worse" by saying he was "talking about fruit and veg spending".

The Daily Mail, beneath the headline "Red Ed's Day From Hell" points out Mr Miliband earns £140,000 as leader of the opposition and "lives in one of the most affluent parts of north London".

The Labour leader's costing "appeared to be a considerable underestimate", says the Times. It piles on further scepticism by offering precise details of his trips to a shop near his home, citing "locals", who claim he buys "mainly buying organic milk, fruit and vegetables, and spending around £15".

The left-leaning Guardian quotes Conservative MP Julian Smith who says Mr Miliband is a "champagne socialist who has no idea how hard-working people live".

In its leader column, the Daily Telegraph says "when Mr Miliband reveals his ignorance of such matters... he has no experience of such costs. This helps to explain his stubborn failure to connect with voters".

Even the Labour-supporting Daily Mirror does Mr Miliband few favours.

"Ed's flummoxed as TV and radio put him on spot" says its headline, referring to the Labour leader failing to remember the name of the Swindon Council leader during an interview with BBC Radio Wiltshire. However, it makes light of the grocery bill comment, saying government figures suggest the average household spends £84 a week.

Smoke without fire

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Several of Wednesday's papers are taken by the conclusion of a study which suggests electronic (or e-) cigarettes are more effective than nicotine patches or gum in helping smokers to quit.

"Those who used e-cigarettes were 60% more likely to kick the habit than those who used nicotine replacement therapies or nothing at all", says the Independent. In its leader column it says as e-cigarettes cut smoking, "they are part of the answer" to improving the health of the nation.

The Daily Mail says doctors could even consider using e-cigarettes on prescription, despite critics saying they "re-normalise" smoking.

The issue of e-cigarettes has become a "public health battleground", reports the Guardian, but supporters say using nicotine without the tar from cigarettes appears "to be far less of a problem".

A warning note is sounded in the Daily Express. Alison Cox of Cancer Research UK tells the paper "the evidence of their effectiveness is so far limited" and the charity would continue to fund research into e-cigarettes.

However, the issue is important enough for the Times to put it at the top of its leader column: "They have the potential to represent a formidable advance in public health.

"This time there really could be smoke without fire."

'Three Lions alert'

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Tabloid and broadsheet alike dedicate space to a warning from police that England football fans travelling to next month's World Cup in Brazil may be targeted by Argentina supporters.

"Argie Yob War" is the Sun's headline. "Three Lions supporters jetting out were... warned to steer clear of tens of thousands of barras bravas - tough gangs - out for revenge over the Falklands", the paper asserts.

An unknown number of Argentine "troublemakers" would cross the border for the tournament, says the Guardian. Deputy Chief Constable Andy Holt told the paper simmering tensions over the 1982 conflict "caused me some concern".

Britain is sending "just six police officers" to support the Brazilian police, notes the Daily Express. As many as 10,000 England supporters are expected to travel to South America, the paper says.

The Times states police in the UK have been "told to gather intelligence on areas where immigrant communities gather" amid fears of violence at home during the tournament.

Of most concern are those nations with a "similar drinking culture" to the UK, the Times reports, after trouble from Polish fans in Lincolnshire during the Euro 2012 competition.

Making them click

The Times - Nick Grimshaw: 'I need to go to parties so I can do my day job'

The Guardian - Sir Nicholas Winton: 105th birthday party for man who saved 669 children from the Nazis

Daily Mail - Tragedy of unemployed gardener who 'killed himself after applying for 40 jobs in three months with no success'

Daily Telegraph - Touré confirms Man City quit threat over birthday after agent says 'a cake is not enough'

Daily Mirror - Tragic youngster killed himself because he couldn't get a job - but was too proud to claim benefits

The Independent - Chilean activist destroys student debt papers worth $500m

Daily Express - How to boost your pension: Easy way to add £1,700 a year to your income