The Papers: Labour's £28bn 'U-turn' and fury at 'blue card' plans

2 weeks ago 20

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Many of Friday's papers lead with Labour's decision to scrap a pledge to spend £28bn a year on green investment if it wins the next election. The Financial Times says the change is part of an attempt to "draw a line under a political dispute over how much [the] party would borrow if it returned to power". It adds that party leader Sir Keir Starmer sought to pin the blame for the U-turn on financial constraints following Liz Truss's premiership in 2022, quoting him saying that "as conditions change, you adjust your position".

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The Guardian calls the move "the most controversial U-turn of Keir Starmer's leadership" and says it has prompted an angry response from environmental groups, trade unions and some in the energy sector. The paper quotes the Unite union saying Labour risks "outsourcing their policy-making to the Conservatives" and the energy industry's trade group saying it is concerned about the reduced ambition for "the future of our sector in the UK".

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Labour's new policy amounts to just £5bn worth of investment in green industries a year, according to the Times. The paper reports that shadow climate secretary Ed Miliband opposed the U-turn at a meeting on Tuesday, though adds that he accepted Sir Keir's final decision.

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The headline in the Daily Mail asks, "Can you ever believe a word Sir U-turn says?". The paper says the change comes just days after the Labour leader insisted that higher levels of investment were desperately needed, adding that he is now facing a "credibility crisis".

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The Daily Express says a Tory source has accused Sir Keir of using the death of Brianna Ghey, a transgender teenager who was murdered in a park in February last year, to "distract from his party's chaos". On Wednesday, Sir Keir criticised Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for making a joke about the "definition of a woman" while Brianna's mother was in Parliament. The Express quotes the source claiming Sir Keir is using "dirty politics".

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An average of 119 operations a day are currently being carried out on children with tooth decay, according to the Daily Mirror. The paper quotes British Dental Association chair Eddie Crouch saying that the "oral health gap is widening for our youngest patients".

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The i reports that the Post Office has said it is investigating claims it wrongly prosecuted former sub-postmasters because of faults with its Capture IT system. It comes weeks after an ITV drama drew increased public attention to the scandal caused by the Horizon system, which saw hundreds of sub-postmasters wrongfully prosecuted after money appeared to go missing from their branches.

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A conspiracy theorist's claim that the Manchester Arena bombing was faked has been called "absurd and fantastical" by a judge, according to the Metro. Richard Hall, currently being sued by a father and daughter who were injured in the attack, claimed the attack was part of a government exercise and that survivors lied about their injuries. The paper says Mr Hall is alleged to have filmed victims at their workplaces and homes and is being sued for harassment, misuse of private information, and data protection.

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The Daily Telegraph leads on claims that US President Joe Biden's memory is now so poor he struggles to recall when he was vice president. Mr Biden, who is 81 and has long faced questions about his possible cognitive decline, was interviewed by lawyers in October as part of an investigation into his handling of classified documents. A final report following the investigation said he should not be prosecuted because jurors would listen to him and conclude he was simply a "well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory".

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Football fans have reacted with fury over plans to trial a "blue card" that would see players sent to a sin bin for a 10-minute cool-off period, according to the Sun. The paper says the move would add to the "confusion" caused by the video assistance referee system, which critics have said slows down the game and fails to improve the quality of the decisions made.

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And the Daily Star reports that DJ Paul Gambaccini has declared war on "frisky foxes", accusing them of making noise and urinating on his newspapers. It quotes Gambaccini saying he "wouldn't wish [his experience] on anyone".

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