Labour welfare curb, England's 'do or die' match and Paxman bows out - the papers

Labour Party backing for plans to reform the welfare system generates headlines in Thursday's newspapers.

The Guardian and the i both lead on the proposals by the IPPR think tank to end out-of-work benefits for 18-to-21-year-olds and replace them with a less costly means-tested payment, dependent on training having been undertaken.

The move intends to cut £65m from the welfare budget and "reflects a recognition of anger among some voters that some people are getting something for nothing out of the welfare system", says the Guardian.

Denying benefits is "bound to cause controversy" but in a speech later, Mr Miliband will describe the move as "progressive not punitive", explains the i, noting that the plans would not apply to people with young children or disabilities.

The Daily Telegraph chooses to highlight another IPPR suggestion - that people who have worked for at least five years should be entitled to get higher unemployment benefits.

The plan is to reward people for what they put into the system, it says. But the Telegraph says the Tories are likely to criticise Labour's pledges as unaffordable and unfair.

Labour leader Ed Miliband will unveil the plans in a speech but according to the Times, the announcement will be overshadowed by two opinion polls suggesting voters do not believe that he is up to the job of being prime minister.

The Sun says it is confused. "Is Ed Miliband appealing to left-wing voters or right-wing voters," it asks. "With his personal ratings at rock bottom, it all smacks of sheer panic."

In its leader column, the Independent says "some of the disappointment with Mr Miliband has clearly been driven by an almost universally hostile press".

But it says "as the economy recovers, and the voters seem prepared to give the coalition the credit for that, the need for Mr Miliband and his party to project a clear, credible economic policy grows more urgent".

'Chilling threat'

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Prime Minister David Cameron's warning to Parliament that Britons fighting as jihadists with the Islamic terrorist group Isis are planning attacks on their return home from the Middle East attracts concern.

The Daily Telegraph says his comments show that last week's debate about the "dissemination of British values" in Muslim schools was "more than theoretical".

"How have we created the circumstances in which hundreds of young men born and raised in this country want to fight, and possibly die, on foreign battlefields?" it asks. "Even worse is the likelihood that some may return home determined to inflict mayhem."

The Daily Express describes the Britons fighting abroad as a "most chilling aspect" and says, "Foiling any and all of their attempts to stage terrorist attacks in Britain has to be our top priority."

The Guardian sees the prime minister's remarks echoing "Tony Blair's warning that the fresh crisis in Iraq affects us all".

A leader in the Daily Mirror says Mr Cameron's comments are a "reminder that we are not insulated from the carnage thousands of miles away".

It says UK cannot avoid "some responsibility" for what is unfolding because of its role in the 2003 invasion but the "best strategy" now is to support Iraq financially and diplomatically. The threat should not be used as a "smokescreen" for a crackdown on civil liberties of British Muslims, it adds.

'Huge match'

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The phrase "do or die" is used by several papers to describe the England football team's task in their World Cup match against Uruguay in Sao Paulo later.

After losing 2-1 to Italy in their first match, England need to avoid defeat in the "knockout" match if they are to avoid the "shock exit" of current world Cup holders Spain, who crashed out of the tournament on Wednesday, says the Daily Mail.

More than 10,000 England supporters are thought to have made the trip to "join the party" in Brazil's biggest city but are "scrambling" to get tickets for the match, says the Times. And they are heavily outnumbered by about 25,000 Uruguayans, who have crossed the border.

The Daily Mirror is among the papers to portrays the clash as a "showdown" between England's Wayne Rooney and Uruguay's Luis Suarez, saying both players "know they carry the hopes of their nations".

But Daily Telegraph football correspondent Henry Winter suggests England must avoid a "fixation" over Liverpool striker Suarez to have a chance of victory in the match.

"England know they are not simply fighting to stay at this carnival staged day and night in stadiums and on beaches. They are fighting for credibility and continuity," he adds.

According to the Daily Express, the clash is a "huge day" for bookmakers who are believe to have taken £10m in bets on Rooney breaking his scoring duck in the nine matches he has played in World Cup finals to date.

And Simon Kuper in the Financial Times suggests that "statistics and history" means England should have "cause for optimism".

Paxman bows out

Jeremy Paxman's final programme as the presenter of BBC's Newsnight programme after 25 years attracts the attention of the leader writers.

The Daily Telegraph says ministers feared to be questioned by him although there was "something about his manner that hinted the whole performance was just a little absurd".

But it adds Paxman "will be missed" even if his trademark combative interview style was eventually replaced with something "cuddlier".

Paxman enriched public debate, says the Daily Mail, which wonders whether a replacement "of stature to fill his shoes" can be found.

He was one of the "greatest exponents" of the "set-piece political ping-pong match" but the media has changed since the 1980s, says the Guardian.

"Rather than recruit another silverback gorilla, Newsnight and other news outlets would be better off experimenting with other means of political discussion," it suggests.

The Times agrees, saying Paxman would not have wanted to hold the programme back as it develops a new style.

But it concludes that Paxman's work will be "remembered as political television at its finest and politicians will sleep easier in their beds".

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