CommentPlus: pick of the papers

The ten must-read pieces from this morning's papers.

1. Labour has forgotten how to box clever on "tax and spend" (Independent)

Labour failed to make the political and economic case for a rise in National Insurance, writes Steve Richards, allowing the Tories to get away with contradictory proposals. The party now finds itself on the back foot on tax and spend for the first time since 1992.

Read the full CommentPlus summary.

2. No, Gordon Brown, we have not been deceived (Times)

Elsewhere, Simon Wolfson, chief executive of Next, attacks Brown's claim that business leaders have been deceived by the Tories. Everyone knows there are huge savings to be made in the public sector.

3. The Tories can't muzzle election talk of Europe (Guardian)

The Tories' hostility to the European Union will return to haunt them, predicts Timothy Garton Ash. Britain's European partners are in no mood to renegotiate anything, let alone do any favours to a new Conservative government.

Read the full CommentPlus summary.

4. Look beyond the spin to find candidates with character (Daily Telegraph)

A large number of authentic and independent-minded candidates has emerged in this election campaign, writes Benedict Brogan. Nigel Farage in Buckingham, Caroline Lucas in Brighton and Esther Rantzen in Luton are all evidence of a sea change.

Read the full CommentPlus summary.

5. The iPad's scary counter-revolution (Financial Times)

The iPad may generally be good news for publishers but there's a catch, warns John Gapper: only those with the ability to create original multimedia content will thrive on this platform.

6. Dave may be popular, but there's danger in the Tories becoming a one-man band (Daily Mail)

Given that he does not have the extraordinary appeal of a Tony Blair, David Cameron must present himself as part of a team, writes Stephen Glover. The Tories have several big hitters who can give a good account of themselves.

7. The real political battle will begin after the election (Guardian)

Even more important than who wins the election will be the struggle over what to put in place of a failed neoliberal model, argues Seumas Milne.

8. Nobody will use the "D" word (Independent)

Britain's £167bn Budget deficit has been written out of the script as politicians replace hard choices with soft options, writes Andrew Grice.

9. Progress and democracy collide in India (Financial Times)

India must work out how to reconcile development with indigenous land rights, writes David Pilling.

Read the full CommentPlus summary.

10. The Tories' policies on economic change fall short of the rhetoric (Daily Telegraph)

The Conservatives are so scared of overturning the status quo that they will not adopt desperately needed financial reforms, says Edmund Conway.

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Anxiety is not cool, funny or fashionable

A charitable initative to encourage sufferers to knit a Christmas jumper signalling their condition is well-intentioned but way off the mark.

The other night, I had one of those teeth-falling-out dreams. I dreamt I was on a bus, and every time it stopped one of my teeth plunked effortlessly out of my skull. “Shit,” I said to myself, in the dream, “this is like one of those teeth-falling out dreams”. Because – without getting too Inception – even in its midst, I realised this style of anxiety dream is a huge cliché.

Were my subconscious a little more creative, maybe it would’ve concocted a situation where I was on a bus (sure, bus, why not?), feeling anxious (because I nearly always feel anxious) and I’m wearing a jumper with the word “ANXIOUS” scrawled across my tits, so I can no longer hyperventilate – in private — about having made a bad impression with the woman who just served me in Tesco. What if, in this jumper, those same men who tell women to “smile, love” start telling me to relax. What if I have to start explaining panic attacks, mid-panic attack? Thanks to mental health charity Anxiety UK, this more original take on the classic teeth-falling-out dream could become a reality. Last week, they introduced an awareness-raising Christmas “anxiety” jumper.

It’s difficult to slate anyone for doing something as objectively important as tackling the stigma around mental health problems. Then again, right now, I’m struggling to think of anything more anxiety-inducing than wearing any item of clothing that advertises my anxiety. Although I’m fully prepared to accept that I’m just not badass enough to wear such a thing. As someone whose personal style is “background lesbian”, the only words I want anywhere near my chest are “north” and “face”.  

It should probably be acknowledged that the anxiety jumper isn’t actually being sold ready to wear, but as a knitting pattern. The idea being that you make your own anxiety jumper, in whichever colours you find least/most stressful. I’m not going to go on about feeling “excluded” – as a non-knitter – from this campaign. At the same time, the “anxiety jumper” demographic is almost definitely twee middle class millennials who can/will knit.

Photo: Anxiety UK

Unintentionally, I’m sure, a jumper embellished with the word “anxious” touts an utterly debilitating condition as a trend. Much like, actually, the “anxiety club” jumper that was unanimously deemed awful earlier this year. Granted, the original anxiety jumper — we now live in a world with at least two anxiety jumpers — wasn’t charitable or ostensibly well intentioned. It had a rainbow on it. Which was either an astute, ironic comment on how un-rainbow-like  anxiety is or, more likely, a poorly judged non sequitur farted into existence by a bored designer. Maybe the same one who thought up the Urban Outfitters “depression” t-shirt of 2014.

From Zayn Malik to Oprah Winfrey, a growing number of celebrities are opening up about what may seem, to someone who has never struggled with anxiety, like the trendiest disorder of the decade. Anxiety, of course, isn’t trendy; it’s just incredibly common. As someone constantly reassured by the fact that, yes, millions of other people have (real life) panic meltdowns on public transport, I could hardly argue that we shouldn’t be discussing our personal experiences of anxiety. But you have to ask whether anyone would be comfortable wearing a jumper that said “schizophrenic” or “bulimic”. Anxiety, it has to be said, has a tendency – as one of the more “socially acceptable” mental illnesses — to steal the limelight.

But I hope we carry on talking anxiety. I’m not sure Movember actually gets us talking about prostates, but it puts them out there at least. If Christmas jumpers can do the same for the range of mental health issues under the “anxiety” umbrella, then move over, Rudolph.

Eleanor Margolis is a freelance journalist, whose "Lez Miserable" column appears weekly on the New Statesman website.