Five of the Best
The top five comment pieces from today's papers
The Guardian's Michael White explores the battles to come over expenses reform:
Should receipts be required for all expenses, not just above £25, previously £250? Should all family members of an MP, not just their children, be barred from direct employment? Does the principle that no "personal financial benefit" should acrue from expenses mean those who do profit from London flat sales hand the profit back?
The Times's David Aaronovitch argues against the free-market ideologues who relish public spending cuts:
I absolutely don't want to go back -- and nor, when it comes to it, I think, do my fellow citizens -- to the days of chronically underfunded and crumbling public buildings and services. Forget the magic, we're talking about more Baby Ps, more school dropouts, fewer street cleaners, less money for hospices, cuts in Sure Start, an upswing in waiting lists, a downswing in literacy.
In the New York Times, Bob Herbert writes that while economists predict the Great Recession is at an end the unemployed are being forgotten:
At some point the unemployment crisis in America will have to be confronted head-on. Poverty rates are increasing. Tax revenues are plunging. State and local governments are in a terrible fiscal bind. Unemployment benefits for many are running out. Families are doubling up, and the number of homeless children is rising. It's eerie to me how little attention this crisis is receiving. The poor seem to be completely out of the picture.
In the Daily Telegraph, Mary Riddell says that the Conservatives and Labour must twin public spending cuts with a vision of a better society:
Chainsaw politics is not an easy sell, but the fortunes of both party leaders will hinge on who can hack less painfully. Britons, famous for their Blitz spirit, consider themselves adept at shouldering adversity. The political skill will be to harness that latent goodwill. The verdict on who is the Nice and who is the Nasty party may settle this general election, and the next.
The Independent's Dominic Lawson details Alan Clark's misdemeanours and rounds on his defenders:
Alan Clark was not wonderful. He was sleazy, vindictive, greedy, callous and cruel. He was also a thorough-going admirer of Adolf Hitler, although his sycophants persisted in thinking that his expressions of reverence for the Führer were not meant seriously. They absolutely were.