In Depth

Instant Opinion: Keir Starmer’s ‘most effective sound is silence’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Tuesday 22 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. Stephen Bush in the New Statesman

on taking a back seat

For Keir Starmer, the most effective sound is silence

“In opposition, policy proposals are at the most useful when they signal something about the opposition – its radicalism, or lack thereof, where it stands on essential issues, and so on – and nearer an election or at times of crisis (a slew of policy proposals by Jeremy Corbyn in the Easter of 2017 put a feel good factor around the inner circle that helped keep them going into the unexpected summer election, while David Cameron’s pledge to cut inheritance tax helped prevent a snap election the Conservatives might have lost in 2007). It’s in Starmer’s interests to keep his powder dry and to announce policy proposals later in the parliament.”

2. Hugo Rifkind in The Times

on surviving another lockdown

Cheer up - it won’t be as bad as last time

“How will we manage another six months? Because we must. At least. Leafing through another newspaper yesterday, I saw a story about all the new crackdowns on the horizon under the headline ‘Pubs In Last Chance Saloon’. When even our pubs are in pubs, you know we’re in trouble. Before lunch Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance were on the telly, just like old times. It felt a bit odd to see them both up there without Boris Johnson in the middle; as though the other two from Destiny’s Child had tried a reunion gig on Beyonce’s day off. They know, all the same, how to put on a show. Graphs, numbers, predictions, dance routines. Britain is on the turn.”

3. Issac Bailey on CNN

on Republican hypocrisy

Mitch McConnell is going to turn me into a socialist

“The Senate Majority Leader wasted almost no time in announcing that he would try to push through a new justice on the Supreme Court less than two months before an election. He doesn't care about the blatant hypocrisy, doesn't care about the political upheaval he's creating in a country already on an emotional knife's edge during a pandemic and a racial reckoning - it seems he only cares about maintaining conservative power in the court. It matters not that he robbed Obama of an opportunity to appoint a new justice - nearly nine months before the 2016 election - after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia and supposedly set a new standard of not allowing the Senate to fill an empty Supreme Court seat before an election. And there's every reason to believe nearly every Republican senator will go along with McConnell's plan, because all they care about is maintaining power no matter how much it tears the country asunder. Their willfulness simply can't stand.”

4. Neil Mackay in the Herald Scotland

on getting ahead of oneself

There’s one sure way that Yes could blow the fight for independence

“When it comes to even moderate supporters on both sides of the constitutional divide, nationalist voices brim with expectant confidence, and unionist voices sound beat. The gods favour Yes; the tide of history has turned against unionism. It’s all a little premature, too prideful, on the independence side; and a little too pathetic on the unionist side. Both camps need a dose of the old-fashioned wisdom our grandmothers taught us. Yes voters should remember pride comes before a fall – and No voters should find a backbone. This mood is built on a series of recent polls showing support for Yes in a majority somewhere between 53-55%. If polls have taught us anything in recent years, though, it’s that they can’t be trusted. Neither side can assume defeat or victory.”

5. Marwan Bishara in Al Jazeera

on the Middle Eastern political landscape

The end of the Saudi era

“As we approach the second anniversary of the state-sponsored assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi Arabia continues its retreat, losing direction and influence in the Gulf and Middle East regions. More than 50 years after the Saudi kingdom began its rise to regional and international prominence as the leading member of OPEC and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), it now finds itself on a path of steady decline. Home to Islam's holiest sites and to the world's second-largest oil reserves, Saudi Arabia's misguided policies are wasting the religious and financial clout it has accumulated over the years.”

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