In Depth

Instant Opinion: Boris Johnson ‘needs to calm down’ after rhetoric turns ugly in Parliament

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Friday 27 September


The Week’s daily round-up highlights the five best opinion pieces from across the British and international media, with excerpts from each.

1. The editorial board in The Times

on an explosive, caustic week in Parliament

Bad language

“There is no question their [MPs’] inflammatory talk of ‘coups’ and ‘dictators’ and accusations of fascism have contributed to the febrile environment. Now it is Mr Johnson who needs to calm down. As prime minister he bears a special responsibility for the tone of public debate. His dismissal of complaints from female MPs who have received daily death threats over his repeated use of words such as ‘betrayal’ and ‘surrender’ as ‘humbug’ was unnecessarily offensive. His suggestion that the way to honour the memory of Jo Cox, the Labour MP who was murdered in 2016, and ensure the safety of today’s MPs was to agree to his version of Brexit was provocative. As prime minister he represents all the country, not just the 52 per cent that voted for Brexit. He should be seeking to unite and not divide.”

2. Fiona Sturges in The Guardian

on employment snobbery in British tabloids

Lady Hale pulled pints? She’s all the stronger for it

“More pointedly, these poorly paid starter jobs separate the grafters from the pampered layabouts. It’s always instructive to read about the likes of Hale, the daughter of schoolteachers who went to a grammar school and worked through her university years, being part of the remainer ‘elite’, versus such ordinary folk as the Eton- and Oxford-educated Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg. How many members of Oxford’s illustrious Bullingdon Club do we think could unblock a toilet or change a pub barrel? Running the country is one thing, but until you’ve sweated through an eight-hour dishwashing shift, you know nothing about life.”

3. David Millward in The Telegraph 

on Joe Biden’s tough road ahead

Donald Trump's calculated response to impeachment proceedings may yet bring down his Democrat rival

“Just to reinforce the point, Trump lobbed details of his July 25 call into the mix and it was pretty damning stuff, confirming that he asked Zelensky to investigate a potential political opponent - while at the same time dumping a large bucket of mud on Biden. In one fell swoop, he has not only goaded the Democrats into pushing for impeachment but has also questioned the integrity of the current front-runner for the party's presidential nomination. Even though Hunter Biden was never charged of any crime, questions will be asked why, as Vice President, Joe Biden called for the sacking of a prosecutor who had been investigating his son's company.”

4. Hamid Dabashi in Al Jazeera

on the shared bond between territories under imperialist threat

Hong Kong, Kashmir, Palestine: Ruins of British empire on fire

“The terror of British imperialism - wreaking havoc on the world not just then but now as well - is the most historically obvious source that unites Hong Kong, Kashmir, and Palestine as well as the many other emblematic sites of colonial and postcolonial calamities we see around us today. But what precisely is the cause of today's unrests? In Hong Kong, Kashmir, and Palestine we have the rise of three nations, "baptised" by fire, as it were - three peoples, three collective memories, that have refused to settle for their colonial lot. The harsher they are brutalised, the mightier their collective will to resist power becomes.”

5. Matthew Karnitschnig in Politico

on the toxic relationship between politics and press in Austria

The alt-weekly roiling Vienna

“Founded in 1977, Falter (German for Butterfly) was long known for its anti-establishment, often subversive take on Austrian society. For most if its existence, it was primarily focused on cultural and political commentary. Under Klenk, it has turned more toward hard-nosed investigative journalism. In a media landscape that has for decades been dominated by outlets dependent on the largesse of political parties and the state, Falter's unrepentant independence has made it stand out. It has come at a price.”


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