In Depth

Instant Opinion: How People’s Vote destroyed itself

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Thursday 21 November


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

1. Martin Fletcher in the New Statesman

on political egotism

How People’s Vote destroyed itself

“When the history of the 2019 general election is written, of how Boris Johnson managed to win a mandate for a catastrophic hard Brexit, a whole chapter should be reserved for the shameful story of the People’s Vote campaign. It will record how the country’s leading pro-European force collapsed on the eve of that momentous vote, betraying the millions of ordinary citizens who had supported, financed and placed great hope in it over the past three years. It will tell a tawdry tale of political shenanigans and clashing egos; of leaks, smears, charges and countercharges; of startlingly vicious infighting that spiralled so hopelessly out of control that 40 energetic, experienced and deeply committed young campaign staffers found themselves sitting in a Thames-side pub in Pimlico as the general election gathered pace, trading legal threats with the multi-millionaire head of one of Britain’s top public relations companies, instead of battling for the nation’s votes.”

2. Sherelle Jacobs in The Telegraph

on Britain’s third party

Unable to stem their Remainer exodus, the Lib Dems are on the verge of crashing and burning

“Here is the thing about the Liberal Democrats: their claim to represent a peppy new political alternative is a conceit. They are a clapped-out old rocker of a political movement. The Liberals have not come up with a genuinely new domestic policy since Beveridge’s trail-blazing social reformism. Their vision of the future – which mixes bureaucratic despotism and moth-eaten retro-socialism – is Fleetwood Mac riffing off North Korea. On paper, as a third party, they make no sense, given that the most compelling gap in the political market exists across the country’s rust belt – the Midlands, North and Wales. But, imprisoned by their own snobbery, the Lib Dems have opted to scrap for airtime in the most overcrowded space – Remainia – where centrist Tories and Labour’s dominant wing vie for favour.”

3. Robert Hardman in the Daily Mail

on Prince Andrew

This isn’t a short-term solution. It’s early retirement

“On the basis that everyone is innocent until proved guilty, some will simply leave things as they are and see how events unfold. What is clear, however, is that this is not a short-term solution while things ‘die down’. Until there is some sort of legal resolution, this is early retirement. Palace officials understand the importance of getting a grip – and of being seen to get a grip – on the helm after the most turbulent royal year in more than two decades.”

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4. Bret Stephens in The New York Times

on a two-state solution in the Middle East

One thing Trump gets right

“The core problem with the past half-century of failed peacemaking efforts has been the facile assumption that meeting the need for two states would ultimately fulfill the requirement for security. The lesson of experience has been the opposite. The failure of Palestinians and their international enablers to satisfy that requirement — or even feign concern for it — has only made the need seem like little more than a remote abstraction to most Israelis.”

5. Jenni Russell in The Times

on digital dystopia

Our addiction to tech is tearing us apart

“The price of living online is not just isolation, as many of us retreat from vulnerability, real trust and the possibility of being understood and known; it is also that, in the cause of the efficiency technology delivers we are being mastered by the machines and the corporations we believe are serving us. We’re becoming disconnected from the real people around us, with the result that both we and they are losing the power to make critical decisions. We’re helpless on the occasions when computer-driven systems suddenly turn against us, morphing from smooth enablers to impenetrable, indifferent granite walls.”


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