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Friday, April 23, 1999 Published at 06:12 GMT 07:12 UK


Papers see Blair as Nato hawk

Many of the papers see a new Tony Blair since his arrival in the United States.

"Hawk Blair stiffens US resolve" is the headline in The Times.

The Financial Times believes Britain has emerged as Nato's most hawkish country on the issue of sending in ground troops.

The Independent, quoting senior sources with Mr Blair in Washington, says Nato would be ready to launch an attack on Serb forces in Kosovo in four to five weeks.

The Mirror gives a ground attack its fullest backing. "Time to send in the troops" urges its front page headline.

It says the nightmare in Kosovo must be brought to an end, and urges Nato to order the deployment of a substantial ground force - and quickly.

The Express takes a more cautious line, warning that the prime minister risks splitting Nato over his push to deploy ground forces.

'Ladies' room'

The Sun is convinced that President Milosevic's apparent offer to admit an international presence in Kosovo is a sign that he is cracking, and sees the attack on the Serb leader's home in Belgrade as hitting him where it hurts.

But The Independent's correspondent, Robert Fisk, is sceptical about Nato claims that the house was being used as a "command and control centre".

He says when he visited the building seven years ago, the only room he was barred from was one described as the "Room of Ladies".

It contained nothing more threatening than a collection of nude statues and portraits of reclining girls, reflecting the interests of its former occupant, President Tito.

'Market myth'

The Times says Conservative leader William Hague has begun to fight back against what it describes as the most serious internal revolt to his leadership.

Along with his deputy Peter Lilley, he is reported to have come under attack from Cabinet colleagues and MPs for ruling out private-sector solutions to hospital and school funding.

But in an article carried on the inside pages, Mr Hague argues that he has "slain the myth that we wanted to abolish the NHS and the state education system", and by doing so has made space for the party to develop radical policies.

And he dismisses the notion that this marks a departure with the Conservative past.

Mr Hague says the party has always believed in the principle of universal access to taxpayer-funded services.

Gardening warning

The leader of the Scottish National Party, Alex Salmond is under a cloud according to The Guardian.

It says senior party figures are sharpening their knives after opinion polls showed a slump in support for the SNP.

With two weeks to go before the May elections, the editorial in The Scotsman says the SNP is badly wounded - and injured all the more because the wounds were entirely self-inflicted.

It accuses Alex Salmond of underestimating support for the Nato bombing campaign and of making a rod for his own back with his policy of rejecting the government's proposal of a penny tax cut.

The Express features a warning for gardners of a Millennium bug, with hairy antennae and a ghoulish expression.

A plague of vine weevils, it says, is set to invade gardens, and with its voracious appetite, could ruin flower beds.

The creature is reported to feast on a hundred plant varieties, including azaleas and geraniums, and could even hit this summer's crop of strawberries.

'Deep prejudice'

The Guardian reports on what it believes is a first in the fight against racial decrimination.

An industrial tribunal in Leeds has ruled that a white worker, along with an Asian and an Afro-Carribbean colleague was also a victim of racial discriminiation, when their friendship was targeted by a cable-laying firm.

The tribunal ruled that the trio had been subjected to "a deep underlying prejudice", by one of their managers at Advanced Communications International of Manchester.

They had been critcised about their scruffy appearance, but the white worker had been taken aside by one of the managers, and told it was the "other" two who were the problem.

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