Front pages reviewed at midnight: Tuesday 11 January 2011

The Guardian, the Indy and The Times tackle bankers bonuses, the Telegraph harps on about flu again and the Mail takes on the trade unions.

The Mail – “Strikers target royal wedding

The Mail reports on the “cynical” threats by unions to disrupt the Royal Wedding. This story has just about everything the Mail could ever want. Evil trade unions, travel chaos, and of course the Royal Family. Shame that it will almost certainly come to nothing as it is merely a threat by the unions to provoke this kind of reaction.

The Guardian – “Ministers cave in to City over bank bonuses

The government has confirmed that it does not intend to interfere in the bonuses paid to the UK’s top bankers, despite two years of ‘tough on bankers’ rhetoric. Labour has been pushing on the issue, calling for a bankers bonus tax. The most interesting line in the piece is: “Government sources said even if the
government managed to get the size of bonus pools reduced by half from the
expected total £7bn projected this year, there would be political flak, and it is
better to focus government leverage on increasing net lending to business.” I.e. the government took the risk that getting tough on the bankers was a fight they could not win so they chose not to fight.

The Independent – “The £1bn question”

I think the Indy does a better job than the Guardian of expressing the outrage felt by many over the failure to combat bankers’ bonuses. By focusing just on RBS, which is majority owned by the government, it creates a more compelling narrative for the reader. It opens with a great first paragraph. – “It is 83 per cent-owned by the British taxpayer, has had more than £45bn of direct aid poured in, £280bn of risky loans insured and a further £8bn set aside in case things get really bad. But the Government insisted yesterday it would not intervene to stop Royal Bank of Scotland’s chief executive, Stephen Hester, earning up to £9m for his work last year.” This captures the sense of frustration felt by people better than the Guardian’s slightly straighter article.

The Times – “Grudging go-ahead for bank bonuses” The Times has more sympathy for the difficult political position in which Nick Clegg and David Cameron found themselves – essentially powerless in the face of international capital. It uses words like “resigned” and “pulled back” instead of copped out.

The Telegraph – “Ban flu jab for worried well, say doctors

Sometimes papers get on crusades and it feels like nothing will put them off it. So it is with The Telegraph’s ‘flu crisis’ at the moment, to the extent that they lead with it tonight despite relatively little new information. The chairman of the Royal College of GPs (i.e. not the person making the decision) has said that those who want to buy flu jabs privately on the NHS but are not at risk should not be allowed to.

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