The Best and the Worst of the British Press

Domestic politics dominate the London broadsheets and tabloids today, as the Labor and Conservative parties are engaged in a tit-for-tat public relations war in advance of the predicted June 7 general election.

Both parties are accusing the other of "playing the race card", according to The Daily Telegraph. To demonstrate the Labor Party's commitment to multiculturalism, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook declared that "Britain's national food is chicken tikka masala," in homage to Britain's large Indian community.

He took his comments one step further by proclaiming that the idea of a "British race" is a fantasy. Not all of the staunchly "British" were amused.

The Conservative Party is engaged in a public relations debacle that stems from a messy internal problem. Several prominent Conservative Members of Parliament (MPs) have refused to sign a pledge that they "will not exploit racial prejudice" during the general election. Their refusal is only adding fuel to the Labor Party's fire.

The foot-and-mouth epidemic is now under control, the British government's chief scientific advisor tells The Independent. A collective sigh can be heard throughout the British Isles amid optimistic comments made by Professor David King.

He reports that the number of new cases of the disease reported each day has been reduced by half every two weeks. Foot and mouth has ravaged Britain's agriculture industry for the past two months.

Man U. to Man U.

"Who the hell are Man you?" demands the Sun. Its boisterous headline is a pun on a story that has amused diehard football (that's soccer to Americans) fans this week.

Gary Neville, a dedicated fan, snuck into the back row during the team photograph session for his favorite team, Manchester United, known to the Brits as Man U. He proudly called his exploit "the biggest and best football sting of all time."

Queen Elizabeth II will be celebrating her 75th birthday tomorrow "Throne Alone" reveals the Daily Express.

The tabloid discloses that she will be more isolated than she ever has been since she ascended to the throne in 1952. None of her children — Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, or Prince Edward — will be with their mother on her special day. And some of the British will not be with her either — in support, that is — as a growing number of left-wing republicans have called for her to step down.

Travelers on London's Underground, or "Tube", are soon to have a more pleasant journey, at least in aromatic terms. The Times requests that London Underground travelers "mind the odors" — a pun on the Tube's "mind the gap" safety motto — beginning next week.

Three of London's busiest stations, Euston, St. James's Park and Piccadilly Circus, will be perfuming its platforms with Madeleine, a specially concocted perfume that will make waiting for the train akin to strolling through an English garden.

The Guardian returns to the dark side of London lore. A sinister letter from Jack the Ripper, the infamous serial killer who terrorized London in 1888, will be revealed to the public for the first time today.

"I wil be on the job soon and will send you another bit of innerds," he wrote in scrawled hand, in a note full of deliberate misspellings and blotches, to the curator of the pathological museum at London Hospital. Jack was never caught.