In Depth

Instant Opinion: ‘Stop obsessing over election gurus’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Wednesday 13 November

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

1. Emma Burnell in The i
It’s time we stopped obsessing over political ‘gurus’ like Dominic Cummings

“Nowadays, for every piece about Dominic Cummings strategic genius there is an equal and opposite piece about Seamus Milne's iron grip on the Labour Party. Such views largely seem based on him occasionally pitching a divisive conference vote on Brexit strategy as a loyalty test to Jeremy Corbyn. The truth is, we want to believe that winning an election is an art and a science. But it’s actually, more often than not, a messy business that we don’t understand until after the votes have been counted. There were factors at play in the 2017 election that weren’t properly understood until after the unexpected result.”

2. Jonn Elledge in the New Statesman
The further we get from VE Day, the stranger Remembrance Day becomes

“The idea of commemorating the fallen, and of giving those left behind a sense that they were not grieving alone, was both helpful and rather beautiful. But 1919 was a long time ago. The last British veteran of the trenches died in 2009, aged 111. And you’d need to be about 90 to have fought in the Second World War, so there are very few veterans left from that conflict either. When will the events we’re commemorating be too far in the past for ‘remembrance’ to be a meaningful concept?”

3. Alison Smale in The New York Times
We have advanced to the same kind of mess as everybody else

“A banner hung on the path to Prague’s vast Castle complex captured the breathtaking speed of the regional revolt: Poland, 10 years; Hungary, 10 months; East Germany, 10 weeks; Czechoslovakia, 10 days. It was not just speed that made Prague special. The uprising also had its own ringmaster in Vaclav Havel, politician, philosopher, playwright. The Velvet Revolution, as the period is known, was his best drama. It had one clear message that took him, a longtime dissident, to the presidency of his country: ‘Truth and love must prevail over lies and hatred’. In 1989, the Americans were the strongest partners in East Europeans’ fight for freedom. Thirty years on, President Trump has changed all that.”

4. Katharine Birbalsingh in The Telegraph
The key to educational success? Side with the teacher, not your child

“This is what can happen in schools: a child is given a detention and says to his parent, ‘The teacher is picking on me’ or ‘The teacher is racist’. His aggrieved parent marches into school to complain, thinking that they are helping their child. But stop and think: you want to show your child you are supporting him, but by doing this you are actually undermining him. Sadly, you have now given your child approval to hate that teacher. Trust between pupil and teacher is crucial if the child is to succeed.”

5. Azeezah Kanji & David Palumbo-Liu in Al Jazeera
BDS: In the crosshairs of human rights colonialism

“In reality, the overwhelmingly predominant contributors to escalating antisemitism statistics in countries like Germany and the United States are not the 'anti-racist and anti-imperialist' left, but neo-Nazis and the far-right bolstered by the rise of the same white nationalist political parties that have also put Muslims and Palestinian rights activism in their crosshairs.”

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