Monday’s papers are a review of the three big stories of the weekend – the crash of Celtic Tiger, the dove of freedom from Somalia, and the letting loose of the Burmese python of democracy. That is the most cyptic/wanky introduction I will ever do…
The Times – “Freedom at a price” – is about the £400,000 ransom paid to free the British couple captured in their boat off Somalia. It alleges that two payments of £250,000 and £150,000 were paid to secure the couple’s release. The most fascinating part of this story, however, comes in paragraph 3 when it alleges that the British government may have put some money into the fund. If the source for the story was stronger then they would have splashed on it with a headline like “British government paid ransom.” But sadly the source is an official from the Somali President’s entourage in a Channel Four interview, so they have played safe this time.
The Guardian – “UK happiness index to measure national mood” – is an odd story to be front page of the Guardian. Basically the Office of National Statistics is to start measuring the population’s mental wellbeing in a bid to monitor “happiness.” Now this seems more like a Metro headline (“Cam plans happiness test” or something like that) but The Guardian have done their best to try and pretend that it is a serious investigative story. They have obviously got a leak of some kind about this and think no other story is strong enough to justify front page. But it is not really a good enough story for the front page as it won’t really affect people.
It is not often that The Telegraph – “Ireland fights to save off 77bn bail-out” – splashes with a foreign financial story but that is what they have done tonight, reporting on the danger of Ireland needing a bail-out. The Irish government is battling to convince the EU that it doesn’t need a bailout from the central fund, in the wake of a mass sale of Irish debts in recent weeks. This is obviously an interesting case for Britain for a number of reasons. Firstly we are very close politically, economically and of course, geographically to Ireland. But more interestingly the Irish government’s cuts were seen by many, including David Cameron to some extent, as a good example of tough but fair economics. That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. Interestingly, one of the things the article claims the Irish are worried about is that the EU will force it to put up taxes as a precondition of a deal. Funny that after so many years of IMF bailouts demanding that governments cut taxes the EU is doing the opposite.
The Independent – “I’m not free until the people are free” – is revelling in this story as they were the first paper to splash with it. This is, correct me if I am wrong, their fourth day of having the freed Burmese pro-democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi on the front page and the story is basically a summary of her first public speech since being freed. The story really peaked over the weekend and it is no coincidence that the other papers don’t have her on the front page any more – the Indy is feeling a little smug, and fair play to them for they called the weekend’s biggest story first.
The FT – “Ireland resists bail-out pressure” – also reports on the Irish bond markets, obviously from a more financial angle. There is no attempt in the story to dress it up as a British story, it is told in a straighter way with facts and figures. It is well researched – with no less than five contributing writers – and is a better analysis of the facts than The Telegraph.