Tonight’s papers are split down the left-right scale with The Indy and Guardian focussing on a speech David Cameron will make in China about human rights and the rest of the papers focussing on more traditional right-wing stories. The Times has a letter from former army generals, the Telegraph has foreign criminals and the Mail has cuts to street lamps.
The Times – “Navy grandees take aim at ‘perverse’ defence cuts.” I am suprised the paper thinks that there is nothing left to get out of the George Bush interview, but that may be because it has been so widely covered elsewhere. Instead it chooses to lead with a letter to the paper by retired commanders that claims that the Falklands are vulnerable to attack if the government continues with its cut to defence budgets. This story will no doubt help defence secretary Liam Fox in his ongoing battle with the Treasury, but for me its not particularly interesting. Having retired commanders condemning cuts to the defence budget is not really any different to having former headteachers condemning cuts to the schools budget, except that they are higher profile.
The Guardian does something that you very rarely see in the days of tabloid-sized broadsheets and puts three stories on the front page. The splash – “Cameron tells China: embrace freedoms and the rule of law” – is a preview of David Cameron’s speech tomorrow in which he will urge China to improve its human rights record. The best quote of the upcoming speech – for the record isn’t it weird when papers say “Cameron will say…” as if they are in control of him – is that Cameron is “convinced that the best guarantor of prosperity and stability is for economic and political progress to go a step further.” The other two stories are “meanwhile UK soldiers may face war crimes trial” and “Students take to streets for protest against tuition fees.” Just as a general point having three stories on a relatively small page does make it feel a little cluttered.
The Independent – “Cameron confronts the biggest society” – summarises the speech Cameron is going to make tomorrow in which he will urge the Chinese to improve their human right’s record. Similar story to the Guardian’s, by the looks of things.
The Telegraph – “Foreign criminals paid £1,500 to go home” – has a strong story from Tom Whitehead, home affairs editor, about the tripling of the amount of money offered to prisoners to go back their country of origin voluntarily. This develops a number of stories that the paper has been running in the past few weeks about prisoners’ rights. The article starts strongly, making the point that the Conservatives fiercely opposed the plan in opposition. But towards the end it deteriorates into a little idle speculation: “foreign criminals could squander the cash and try to sneak back into Britain.”
The Daily Mail – “New dark age on our streets” – is a story about plans by councils to turn off street lamps at night to save money on energy bills. This is actually a very interesting story for anyone that drives as it could lead to more fatalities on darkened streets. About 2/3rds of the way down it becomes clear why it is so much better researched than most newspaper stories – it was done by Newsnight! The survey of 75 councils was conducted by Newsnight and the Mail is basically just using the data as its own.