Front pages reviewed: Tuesday 4 January 2011

The VAT rise dominates all today’s quality papers, with The Guardian scoring a own goal for partisanship, while The Times and The Telegraph make better attempts at bringing the story to life.

The Guardian – “Labour warns of ‘squeeze’ as VAT rise bites”

The Guardian has been a little reliant on Labour to flesh out its stories in the past few weeks and this story doesn’t need to lead with Miliband’s warning of a “squeeze”. Obviously there is going to be a squeeze and there is actually some quite good analysis of the VAT rise later in the article. But by having Miliband as the top line the paper rules out reaching out beyond its core readership.

The Times – “Families to pay £600 more after rise in VAT”

This is a better attempt at making the VAT rise real for households. Apparently middle-class households will pay £600 extra in tax this year as the VAT rise gets put onto consumers.  They have some data from Deloitte which apparently shows that middle-class households will be hit worst by the data (though the statistics refer to amount of income rather than percentage of income). For the paper’s middle-class base this will be a serious concern.

The Independent – “Miliband: the fightback begins”

I accept that Ed Miliband is not the most photogenic of men but if, as a broadly left of centre paper, you are going to declare that Labour’s fightback has begun it is probably not best to have four photos of its leader in various stages of constipation. And there is little news here really – Miliband has been warning of a ‘lost generation’ since he took power.

The Telegraph – “VAT rise will be used to hide 8pc rise in prices”

The prize for the most interesting headline of the day goes to the Telegraph, who focus on attempts by companies to push up prices beyond the rate of the VAT rise. Apparently “analysts believe many gyms, mobile phone companies, restaurants and shops will raise their prices by between 5 per cent and 8 per cent, or possibly more.” The problem with the story is that it rests on the expectations of the brilliantly named retail experts “Booz&Co.” Now while they are a legitimate company it does make the article sound a little ridiculous when they are revealed as the main source…

If you only read one: The Telegraph today

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