CommentPlus: pick of the papers

The ten must-read pieces from the Sunday papers.

1. A health plan fit for Daniel Hannan (Independent on Sunday)

Andy Burnham warns that the coalition's health white paper represents the most dangerous threat to the NHS since its creation.

2. £200,000 for a head teacher? Does that strike you as being fair? (Observer)

The case of the head teacher Mark Elms, who earns £200,000-plus a year, provides us with a rare opportunity to define what we mean by fairness, writes Will Hutton.

3. New ways of speaking to a "special" friend (Independent on Sunday)

Ahead of David Cameron's first visit to Washington as Prime Minister, John Rentoul says his first task is to explain what a Liberal Conservative is.

4. American politics has caught the British disease (Sunday Telegraph)

Elsewhere, Janet Daley says that, thanks to Barack Obama's European-style government, America has learned about the titanic force of class differences.

5. Labour needs to talk about Gordon. Otherwise it will repeat its failures (Observer)

Until Labour honestly reflects on Gordon Brown's catastrophic premiership, the party will be telling itself the same lies that led to its defeat, says Andrew Rawnsley.

6. Isn't a graduate tax just plain dumb? (Sunday Times)

A graduate tax would deprive universities of yet more autonomy and leave them largely indifferent to the wishes of students, warns Minette Marrin.

7. Michael Gove has found that Whitehall is a difficult beast to master (Sunday Telegraph)

The coalition must struggle to reverse the civil service view that bigger government is better government, says Andrew Gilligan.

8. A steady drip of vintage poisons (News of the World)

The rows over Peter Mandelson's memoirs make the coalition government look like an oasis of sanity, writes Fraser Nelson.

9. Mandelson deserves better than these snide shots (Observer)

But elsewhere, Barbara Ellen argues that Mandelson should be commended for remaining good-humoured and composed throughout all the catcalling.

10. A greener world begins at home (Independent on Sunday)

The developed world must prove that high standards of living can be compatible with environmental sustainability, says a leader in the Independent on Sunday.

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It's Gary Lineker 1, the Sun 0

The football hero has found himself at the heart of a Twitter storm over the refugee children debate.

The Mole wonders what sort of topsy-turvy universe we now live in where Gary Lineker is suddenly being called a “political activist” by a Conservative MP? Our favourite big-eared football pundit has found himself in a war of words with the Sun newspaper after wading into the controversy over the age of the refugee children granted entry into Britain from Calais.

Pictures published earlier this week in the right-wing press prompted speculation over the migrants' “true age”, and a Tory MP even went as far as suggesting that these children should have their age verified by dental X-rays. All of which leaves your poor Mole with a deeply furrowed brow. But luckily the British Dental Association was on hand to condemn the idea as unethical, inaccurate and inappropriate. Phew. Thank God for dentists.

Back to old Big Ears, sorry, Saint Gary, who on Wednesday tweeted his outrage over the Murdoch-owned newspaper’s scaremongering coverage of the story. He smacked down the ex-English Defence League leader, Tommy Robinson, in a single tweet, calling him a “racist idiot”, and went on to defend his right to express his opinions freely on his feed.

The Sun hit back in traditional form, calling for Lineker to be ousted from his job as host of the BBC’s Match of the Day. The headline they chose? “Out on his ears”, of course, referring to the sporting hero’s most notable assets. In the article, the tabloid lays into Lineker, branding him a “leftie luvvie” and “jug-eared”. The article attacked him for describing those querying the age of the young migrants as “hideously racist” and suggested he had breached BBC guidelines on impartiality.

All of which has prompted calls for a boycott of the Sun and an outpouring of support for Lineker on Twitter. His fellow football hero Stan Collymore waded in, tweeting that he was on “Team Lineker”. Leading the charge against the Murdoch-owned title was the close ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and former Channel 4 News economics editor, Paul Mason, who tweeted:

Lineker, who is not accustomed to finding himself at the centre of such highly politicised arguments on social media, responded with typical good humour, saying he had received a bit of a “spanking”.

All of which leaves the Mole with renewed respect for Lineker and an uncharacteristic desire to watch this weekend’s Match of the Day to see if any trace of his new activist persona might surface.


I'm a mole, innit.