What the papers say

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Journalist Mike Philpott takes a look at what is making the headlines in Wednesday's newspapers.

Northern Ireland's local papers all seem to agree that we're facing cutbacks of £4bn after the government's Spending Review.

"The axeman George gives us a beating," is the main headline in the Belfast Telegraph, above a cartoon of Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness with torn clothing, black eyes and broken glasses.

The paper comments that all financial statements are accompanied by spin, smoke and mirrors, but it's clear that a period of severe austerity lies ahead.

It describes the assistance package for the Presbyterian Mutual Society as "a bauble thrown to an audience desperate for anything positive".

'Air of uncertainty'

The News Letter says our local politicians will have to put ideology and other differences aside "and take a united approach to balancing the books".

According to the Irish News, the Chancellor would have been better to have said less and explained more.

The lack of detail, it says, has "left an air of uncertainty".

But it concludes that private sector growth here can't hope to keep pace with public sector decline.

There's not much agreement on who will be hit the hardest.

The Mirror, the Independent and the Guardian all believe the poorest in society will bear the brunt.

The Mirror calls it a "cynical and politically-motivated assault on the welfare state".

But the Mail and the Daily Telegraph claim the middle class will be worse off, according to the Treasury's own figures.

'Economic gamble'

The Telegraph puts its own figure on it - suggesting that families on more than £48,000 a year will lose £10,000 in higher taxes and lost benefits.

For the Mail, it's the "greatest economic experiment of modern times", while the Financial Times sees it as "the biggest economic gamble in a generation".

The Times says George Osborne has "reshaped the state" and altered its size. His choices are mainly the right ones, it says, but it's concerned about the impact on the least well off.

The Daily Telegraph's cartoonist, Matt, shows a boy about to smash a piggy bank with a hammer. He's telling it: "We're all in this together."

The Irish Times reports that the European Commission has rejected an Irish request for an extension of the 2014 deadline for getting the Republic's finances under control.

But the Economic and Social Research Institute has said in a report that the short timescale poses a risk of "overkill" for the economy.


The Irish Independent puts it more dramatically, concluding from the ERSI report that draconian budgets could "wreck the economy for a decade".

It comments that meeting the European Union target "could spell disaster".

Finally, if there's some uncertainty about the effect of the cuts, it's nothing to the confusion of schoolchildren when it comes to recalling historical events.

The Daily Express reports on the findings of a survey carried out to mark Trafalgar Day.

One in six pupils thought Nelson's Column was there to mark Nelson Mandela's release from prison.

A similar number believed Sir Walter Raleigh was the man who came up with the idea for the Chopper bicycle.

Some thought Captain James Cook commanded the Starship Enterprise, while others thought the Spanish Armada was something you'd be likely to find in a tapas bar.

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