In Depth

Instant Opinion: Tory campaign ‘treating voters with disdain’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Monday 9 December


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

1. Clare Foges in The Times

on a safety-first approach to politics

The Tory campaign is treating voters with disdain

“When you respect people you treat them at least as equals. You credit them with intelligence. You seek to be open with them, to earn their respect in turn. During this campaign the Conservatives have displayed no such respect for the electorate. Instead they are scornful of scrutiny, complacent about what they need to prove in order to govern. They think that repeating the same phrases endlessly is all the detail we deserve. They are prepared to lay out the bare minimum of policy and no more. In short, they patronise us as idiots, polling booth fodder, Pavlov’s dogs who will leap to vote Tory at the sniff of a tax cut.”

2. Benedict Spence in The Independent

on Labour and anti-Semitism

There’s a very good reason why so many people won’t ‘hold their nose’ and vote Labour

“When Labour activists turn on the public and browbeat them, saying that they should fear the divisive social policies of the Tories above the imperfections in their own party, they fail to recognise two things. First, that asking people to ‘hold their noses’ and vote only serves to do is highlight the failings of a party. Second, that antisemitism is too big an outrage to ignore; the Jewish community, they reason, are the experts – and where they say they identify antisemitism, we have a duty to believe them. Many Labour activists will feel anger that voters aren’t prepared to put the NHS or the effects of austerity above their concerns about antisemitic sentiments that may be held by a minority of people in the Labour. But then the party only has itself to blame for that situation. Nobody has forced Labour into the position it currently finds itself in. If they believe the NHS, Brexit and social care are so important, the onus is on them to root out antisemitism in order to make themselves electable, rather than on voters to select them based on a perceived ranking of socials.”

3. John Harris in The Guardian

on the Conservative paradox

Whoever wins this week, the Tories should worry about their future

“It is nearly 40 years since the advent of the last genuinely transformative Tory idea, which was actually borrowed from a reluctant Labour party: enabling people to buy their council houses. This policy, aptly enough, now sits at the heart of the shortage of homes and defines so many of the country’s current furies. The supposed natural party of government now hides from scrutiny, anxiously hanging on to Brexit while knowing it has almost nothing else to say. The Tories may be about to win, but if they do, it looks set to be the most pyrrhic of victories. This is what may yet be known as Johnsonism: a mixture of populist authoritarianism and unseriousness that refuses to think about the future, but stumbles on regardless, as the English ruling class so often does.”

4. Robert Colvile, director of the Centre for Policy Studies, on Unherd

on Jeremy Corbyn’s inner circle

How Labour became the party of dreamers — not doers

“The key to understanding Corbynism is to realise that it is a fusion of two very different types. On the one hand, the fresh-faced young idealists, dreaming of a better world. On the other, the hard-boiled hatchet men of the hard Left, still fighting their dreary rearguard action against economic reality. If you were being unkind, you might call them the fools and the knaves.”

5. Jane Shilling in The Daily Telegraph

on manners

Beneath the bile of our national discourse, small acts of courtesy show British politeness lives on

“When it comes to public politeness, the general rule is that city-dwellers are ruder than people who live in the countryside, partly because cities are stressful places, but also because in cities we daily encounter zillions of people we’ll never see again, so if we snarl at someone in the supermarket queue, or cut them up at the traffic lights, we’re hardly going to find ourselves ostracised at the next parish meeting. Latterly, this distinction between town and country seems to have become blurred, with a miasma of unmannerliness making a shameful conquest of our realm. From the Cain-and-Abel hostility of political discourse, the hate-filled language of social media warriors and the racism that disfigures football, to toxic disputes between neighbours and the shrill refusal by university students to countenance views different from their own, the quality of our national discourse seems infected with a grave malaise.”

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