Newspaper headlines: Election scenarios and baby reaction

With the main parties seeking to secure a decisive advantage in the general election campaign, the papers look at how the next few days, weeks or even months, will pan out.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the Conservatives have a list of 23 target seats, disclosed for the first time, on which strategists are focusing their efforts in the final days before Thursday's vote.

Most of these, the Telegraph says, are held by the Liberal Democrats with just one of them, Halifax, in Labour hands.

The paper says the plan requires David Cameron to hold Tory constituencies amid growing Labour optimism that they will drive out the governing party in some areas.

All three of the major party leaders will on Monday begin a frenetic final few days of campaigning, says the Telegraph.

The paper also reports that Mr Cameron and Nick Clegg appeared to begin public negotiations over the terms of a future coalition after the Lib Dem leader suggested he is open to an EU referendum and to ending subsidies for onshore wind turbines.

The Financial Times seems to back this up, saying that Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg are preparing for talks on a new Conservative/Lib Dem coalition within hours of the election.

Conservative former Chancellor Kenneth Clarke warns in the Guardian that there would be little point in having a re-run of the election in a few months' time should there be an inconclusive result.

Image caption The papers are predicting a tight result

The Guardian says the intervention came as Mr Cameron's supporters prepared to face down the Tory right amid fears that internal critics will try to unseat the prime minister if he fails to achieve a decisive victory over Ed Miliband.

The Times focuses on Mr Miliband's chances of becoming prime minister in the case of Labour not having the most seats.

The paper says he has been warned by senior party figures that he must "win the right to govern", with one unnamed frontbencher suggesting he should resign if he finishes as few as 12 seats behind Mr Cameron.

The Times says Labour is facing a tough fight against the Tories in marginal seats in England and the threat of "wipeout" against the SNP in Scotland.

In a leading article, the Times says the campaign is approaching a thrilling and fateful climax because the race is too close to call.

The Telegraph says all the indications are that neither of the two major parties will win outright.

"What is most noticeable about this election is the high number of undecided voters so late in the campaign, with one in four still to make up their mind," it says.

"True, the complex mosaic of multi-party politics and the expansion of postal voting means that even a big late swing might not guarantee victory. But it is still all to play for."

The Guardian's Patrick Wintour writes that, as they crawl towards the finish line, the three biggest parties are desperate to convince a sceptical public of their credibility.


Ed stone

The papers chip away at Ed Miliband's large tablet of stone containing Labour's election pledges, which he says he would have erected in the back garden of Number 10 should he get elected, with many making the obvious Biblical link to Moses.

"In several thousand years' time, an archaeologist will uncover a 2.6 metre piece of stone that had been lying buried for hundreds of years," writes John Crace in the Guardian.

"Scholars will spend just as long thereafter trying to interpret its meaning. Was it the centre of a hitherto unknown civilisation based around the sun god Ed?

"Will future transport ministers pledge billions of pounds of public money to build an underpass to protect this national monument?

"In one of the tightest elections in 50 years, which looks set to be won by the party leader the public mistrusts the least, Ed Miliband has just raised the stupidity bar still higher."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Ed Miliband's stone tablet draws comparisons to Moses

The Times reports that the deputy leader of Westminster Council warned that Mr Miliband could struggle to obtain planning permission to erect the tablet at Downing Street.

The Times adds: "The Labour leader was mocked after unveiling the 8ft 6in limestone plinth with his six key promises 'set in stone'.

"It quickly drew unfavourable comparisons with a tombstone, the seven commandments of Animal Farm and Neil Kinnock's hubristic Sheffield rally."

The Daily Mail says Mr Miliband was accused of hubris "on a Biblical scale", while the Financial Times says he faced mockery.

"Holy Moses! Miliband has manifesto carved into 8ft stone for the Number 10 garden," is the headline in the Express.

The Mirror's Kevin Maguire writes: "Miliband intending to return to the Stone Age by erecting a block inscribed with Labour promises in No 10's rose garden is so gloriously naff it could be from the mind of Perfect Curve whacky PR Siobhan Sharpe in BBC mockumentary W1A."


Name game

It's the royal baby and those in royal blue all over the front pages.

While Chelsea's Premier League title win is trailed to the sports pages, the new baby is the centre of attention.

The Times describes how Prince Harry led royal acclaim for the princess, and the Prince of Wales was the first royal to visit her at Kensington Palace.

The Times remarks: "If there was one aspect of the birth which the bookmakers would not be taking bets on, it was who would be first to call on the new arrival: the honour, of course, went to Carole Middleton."

In a leading article, the Times notes the constitutional significance with the princess the first girl born to the inner circle of the Royal Family since the rules of succession were changed.

Allison Pearson takes to the front page of the Telegraph to argue that the still unnamed baby must be called Diana.

"Whether it is her Christian or middle name, she will, without any doubt, be Diana," she writes.

Image copyright PA/Getty Images
Image caption Royal baby and royal blue

"William's late mother was there in spirit, outside the hospital on Saturday, her oval sapphire and diamond engagement ring on the hand Kate used to adjust the sleeping baby's shawl.

"William gave his fiancee that ring so that his mother, as he said, could be part of their wedding, and I'm sure her name will be passed on to his daughter in the same spirit of commemoration."

The Guardian says the names Alice, Charlotte and Olivia were the bookies' favourites, but the royal couple kept punters in suspense.

The Mail welcomes the princess in a comment piece.

"Congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the arrival of the first princess born into the monarchy in 25 years," it says.

"Despite the sneers of a few left-wing republicans, the birth of a royal baby is a cause for national celebration.

"On this occasion, the wonderful images of the baby girl and her parents leaving hospital (and of Prince George) also provided a welcome distraction from an election campaign that seems to have been going on for ever."

The Express says that in a world that sometimes seems to be dominated by bad news and disaster the arrival of the royal baby could scarcely have provided greater cheer.

Calling her "queen of tots", the Mirror says the princess may as well get used to people wanting to see her - because she'll be in huge demand.


Smelly invaders

The Times reports that Welsh wine has received the ultimate middle class accolade - a place on the shelves of Marks and Spencer.

The paper says Parva Farm Vineyards near Monmouth is struggling to meet demand for the product of its two-and-a-half acres of vines.

The south-facing vineyard overlooks the River Wye and the location has been compared by experts to the Mosel wine-growing region in Germany, we are told.

M&S has apparently bought 480 bottles of its 2013 vintage Bacchus white wine, and vineyard owner Judith Dudley tells the Times: "They have said they want more but they may have to wait for the 2014 to be ready."

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Spanish bluebells smell like onions

Staying in Wales, the Telegraph says an army of advancing foreign bluebells that smell like onions is threatening to wipe out the native variety.

The Spanish invaders, described as "big thuggish things", were introduced to Britain in the 17th Century but numbers have doubled in the past 15 years and there are now more of them than the more fragrant Welsh ones.

"People say we should not make a fuss about bluebells," says Trevor Dines of the Plantlife charity. "But in 50 or a 100 years' time we'll find we have got none left. It can't really be stopped. All we can do is slow down the process."


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