Newspaper headlines: A question of cuts

The starting gun has been fired, politicians of all parties are stepping up their efforts to get votes on 7 May; while the newspapers are just as keen to tell you what's best for you - in their opinion.

Given that informal campaigning had begun far in advance of the date of dissolution of the fixed-term Parliament, the Matt cartoon on the front of the Daily Telegraph may strike a chord with many.

Image copyright PA
Image caption A removal van indicates the changes ahead at the Palace of Westminster

In it, a man turns to his wife and asks her: "If the election has just begun, what have I been ignoring since Christmas?"

Inside the paper, assistant editor Philip Johnston tags the contest "the boring election".

But he thinks "unfair electoral mathematics" which over-represents urban areas, and the prospect of a minority Labour government, may lead to "an angry rumble rising up from the shires" on 8 May.

The Daily Star is even less impressed than the man in the Telegraph cartoon with the election run-up, declaring it "a load of old ballots" and picturing the now-famous fox which was photographed in Downing Street bemoaning that there are still 37 days to go before a vote takes place.

Political columnist Rachel Sylvester in the Times declares that the 2015 poll will be a "Wizard of Oz" election between the "all brains but no heart tinman" David Cameron and "scarecrow" Ed Miliband, who is the opposite.

She says that despite the unpredictability of this year's result, "the two men who could be prime minister are behaving entirely predictably.

"Neither has been able to throw off the stereotypes surrounding their parties."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Rachel Sylvester's election metaphor

Commentator Janan Ganesh in the Financial Times says the election still "smells of unignited gasoline" as the country is gripped by "the sacking of a blokeish TV presenter and the twilight phase of the football season" rather than politics.

Ganesh says that the election is a lot more about personality than politicians like to make out.

"Pitted against each other are two mildly different policy programmes but two drastically different personalities."

He adds that most voters will have only a sketchy idea of the two big parties economic differences - and they know that policies can change with power.

"As their pencils hover over the ballot, people will have a gut impressions of the characters asking for the right to rule them and decide accordingly.

"Voters know that superficialities are what really run deep."


'The voters' friend'

So what of the cut and thrust of policy and political debate in Tuesday's press?

The Guardian says the campaign got under way with a row about tax and a personal attack on Ed Miliband delivered from Downing Street itself.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption David Cameron began his personal campaign trail in Chippenham, Wiltshire

The tax row was the Conservative statement that working families face an average £3,000 rise in the amount they pay if Labour is elected, but the Guardian says this claim was "undermined" by the Institute for Fiscal Studies who called the figure "unhelpful and of little value".

The paper adds that the independent think tank said that it was impossible to "draw a precise figure" for the amount of extra revenue Labour would need to raise in power and the Tory estimate of £15bn, could as easily be £3bn.

The Guardian says after a "point-by-point rebuttal" of Conservative assumptions, the Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps admitted the £3,000 figure had been "guesswork".

The Independent's front page says both the Conservatives and Labour have been accused of hiding the cuts they plan to make from voters.

The charge came from the coalition's adviser on social mobility and child poverty, Alan Milburn.

The former Labour minister says: "For both Ed Balls and George Osborne, there is an equal necessity to spell out exactly how they aim to balance the books, not just when.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Ed Miliband began the formal election period with a speech to business leaders in London

"Detail here may not be the politicians' friend, but it is the voters' friend," he adds.

The Times says Labour leader Ed Miliband faces a potential rebellion from MPs on the Left of his party if he commits to further spending cuts.

The paper says "30 to 40" members of Labour's Socialist Campaign Group could join with SNP parliamentarians to derail Mr Miliband's first budget if they do not like it.

In its inside page, the paper features a Tory campaign pledge that does not seem to be striking a chord with voters - the return of the right-to-buy local authority housing.

The Times reports that 66% of voters questioned by YouGov pollsters said they thought the return of the policy, first introduced by Mrs Thatcher, was either a "bad idea" or were unsure of its merits.

The Daily Mail is among the papers which uses David Cameron's pledge to create two million more jobs in the next five years as its political headline.

The paper says this will effectively create a full employment economy.

The Daily Telegraph says Labour faces a "business backlash" after using quotes from leading companies and executives in an advert running in the Financial Times.

Image copyright PA
Image caption ... while Nick Clegg's day included a visit to a hedgehog sanctuary in Solihull

The Labour ad quotes the businesses fears for the economy if the UK left the EU, but the Telegraph says four of the firms featured have objected to being used for party political purposes.

Siemens UK, who are used in the advert, tells the paper that Labour has "overstepped the mark" by featuring them.

The Financial Times front says the Liberal Democrats will extract "a steep price" if they find themselves junior partners in a coalition with a Conservative government intent on holding a EU referendum in 2017.

The FT says this price will be a say in the timing of the vote, the question asked and insisting that EU nationals living in Britain can take part in the poll.


Bean bags

Aside from politics, Tuesday's papers look unsurprisingly thin, but a few stories catch the eye.

The Independent is among a number of outlets to report on a pay dispute that has left the Queen "facing industrial action" for the first time ever.

The paper explains that 40 "liveried workers" at Windsor Palace who greet and guide the residence's 1.3m annual visitors are in a right royal rage about low pay and unpaid duties.

Image caption Windsor Castle is the scene of a unique industrial dispute

The Indy says "wardens" at the Palace can earn as little as £14,400 a year, although the charity trust that employs them on the monarch's behalf says they receive "above the market rate" and get perks, including free lunches.

Talking of regal behaviour (allegedly), the Daily Star has a story about Top Gear.

Although readers might have assumed they had heard all that could be said about the popular motoring show and its hosts in the last few weeks, the Star explains the Clarkson-May-Hammond line-up is far from dead.

The three stars are still committed to a series of live Top Gear roadshows, run by BBC Worldwide - the corporation's commercial arm.

Why is the Star so interested? Well it is because of a leaked list of "amazing tour demands" the paper says the three presenters insist on for each live appearance.

These not only include 20 bottles of wine, a dozen bottles of beer and some gin, but other comforts such as a PlayStation 3 with two controllers and the Call of Duty game; black and white tea mugs; a Nespresso machine; green plants; Pictionary and Scrabble; cigarettes; orange bean bags; deodorant and the presence of a McDonalds restaurant nearby.

Back to the real Royal family, and the Daily Telegraph features the latest odds being offered on the name and delivery date of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's second baby.

The paper says Alice is the hot favourite name, and April 21 the favoured date.

The Telegraph notes that betting has been particularly heavy in the Tonbridge area.

"It may seem unlikely that the residents of the Kent town have any inside information," it adds.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Tonbridge: hotbed of royal punditry

One family getting nearly as much coverage in today's papers as the Windsors is the Tweed family.

The clan's seven brothers and five sisters aged between 76 and 95 have become officially the world's oldest family, according to the Guinness book of Records.

The Daily Express says the Tweeds - with 1,019 years between them - are the surviving children of 16 brought up in a three bedroom house in Coventry. All were born in a 21-year period.

Second youngest child Phyllis, 78, tells the Express: "There weren't many months when mother wasn't pregnant. But they didn't have TV back then."

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