MANDATORY life sentences, suffering and social care were the topics raised by columnists in the newspapers.

The Daily Express

The newspapers leader column said the Government’s pledge that criminals who kill police and other emergency workers while committing crimes will be given mandatory life sentences is a victory for everyone who has campaigned for straightforward justice.

“Special tribute should be paid to Lissie Harper, the widow of PC Andrew Harper, who was dragged to his death by a getaway car in a case which horrified the country,” it said. “There is revulsion that those responsible for deaths like this can avoid longer sentences if they are convicted for manslaughter. An imminent reform to the law means police killers will in future face automatic life terms.

“This victory will not end the grief suffered by those who loved PC Harper but, thanks to their courage and campaigning, emergency workers who risk their lives for our safety will know that justice is on their side. Harper’s Law is an opportunity to salute and protect our heroes.”

The Guardian

France Ryan said cruelty was not a new phenomenon for Britain - ‘but the feeling that things are getting worse is hard to shift’.

“While the pandemic has in some ways brought communities together, it has also seen chilling callousness, as clinically vulnerable people die in large numbers with little fuss,” she said. “There has been a normalisation of suffering in modern Britain – or more accurately, certain people’s suffering.”

She said the hostile environment had been fostered by sections of the media and politicians - such as when a newspaper described migrants as “cockroaches”, nor when the future prime minister described Muslim women as “letterboxes”.

“The first step in finding a fairer way to organise our society and economy is having faith that it is possible. Compassion’s greatest enemy is fatalism, and its greatest friend is the belief that empathy will win out in the end. Britain can be better than this.”

The Independent

Hannah Fearn said the need for social care was inherently unfair.

“It is deeply unfair that some spend their later years in good health enjoying an active retirement with holidays on the Spanish coast, while others are burdened by the physical pain, psychological toll and great financial expense of a more rapid decline,” she said. “The social care sector is creaking, and its weaknesses have been horribly exposed during the coronavirus pandemic, so now is the right time to make a change.

“If a capping system is the only one on which we can agree (and the political debate seems to have stagnated over this point), a lower cap is the only way to mitigate against deep-rooted unfairness.”