Instant Opinion: Priti Patel ‘prepared to terrify criminals’
Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Tuesday 13 August
The Week’s daily round-up highlights the five best opinion pieces from across the British and international media, with excerpts from each.
1. Tim Stanley in The Daily Telegraph
on the iron fist of Priti Patel
At last, here's a Home Secretary who's prepared to terrify criminals
“That’s why we really need Ms Patel to stick to her instincts about where the balance lies. We don’t have to be a cruel society to be a safe one: there’s a case for reform in many areas, and no cause to be mindlessly draconian. But the Home Secretary needs to send the signal that the nonsense is over, that the police have a job to do – prevent and investigate real crimes – and they won’t be doing anything else. My initial sense is that everything the Left hates Ms Patel for makes her the most likely minister for some time to do this. She inverts their politics of identity. As an Asian woman, they believe she ought to be a liberal. But she’s not. I suspect that being Asian and a woman might be part of what makes her a conservative. Ms Patel has nothing to apologise for; none of the Cameron elite’s embarrassment of riches. She can say and do what she thinks is right without guilt – and one hopes she does.”
2. Matthew Walter in The Week US
on the decline of a former vice president
What will it take for the Democratic establishment to abandon Biden?
“These days, Biden is confused about everything and everyone virtually all the time. He doesn't know the difference between Theresa May and Margaret Thatcher — or between the latter and Angela Merkel. He routinely says things that are absolute gibberish — ‘truth over facts’, ‘the nation that Barack Obama proved toward bends toward justice’. The broad strokes of his biography — tough childhood, long time in the Senate, then vice president — are clear enough but begin to blur around the edges: Was I still in the administration when those kiddos came to see me? These are not ordinary slips of the tongue. They are signs of cognitive decline that will be familiar to anyone who, like me, spends a good deal of time in the company of people who are roughly Biden's age. As far as I am aware, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the only prominent Democrat who has actually come out and said this, even though it must be painfully obvious to millions of Americans who have friends and relatives in their eighth or ninth — or even 10th — decade of life.
3. Leonid Ragozin in Al Jazeera
on Vadimir Putin’s slipping grip on power
Putin risks losing Moscow
“The implications of such growing disaffection in Moscow are significant. In a highly-centralised state like Russia, the capital is possibly the only place that really matters when it comes to regime change. It is indeed the peaceful revolution in Moscow in August 1991 that ended communism and precipitated the collapse of the Soviet Union. That revolution was preceded by two years of gigantic rallies with hundreds of thousands in attendance. Today's protests are still a far cry from those, but they are growing - the rally held last Saturday was twice as big as the previous, authorised rally a month ago. One of the main reasons for this remarkable growth in numbers was the Kremlin's decision to shift from measured intimidation of the opposition to outright terror.”
4. John Cassidy in The New Yorker
on the questions left unanswered by Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide
Jeffrey Epstein conspiracies and the mysterious deaths of the rich and ruined
“At sixty-six, Epstein was facing the prospect of languishing for months in a nightmarish jail that had housed the likes of John Gotti and El Chapo; facing his accusers in a criminal trial; losing his fortune in civil suits; and spending the rest of his life in a federal pen, this time without the work release he’d been granted during his first incarceration. He had lost what sociopaths like him value most: control. Based on what we know now, it appears that Epstein killed himself in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, on Saturday morning, and that no one else was involved. In some ways, this isn’t a very satisfying explanation, and it raises important questions about why Epstein wasn’t being supervised more closely. But it fits the facts that have been revealed so far. It also fits what we know about Epstein’s psychological profile. And it doesn’t require the involvement of Mossad frogmen, or their equivalent, to be true.”
5. Anouchka Grose in The Guardian
on Greenland as a climate change bellwether
How the climate emergency could lead to a mental health crisis
“If the world around you once promised to be a place that provided a certain amount of food, shelter and consistency, how might you feel as it gradually becomes a place of extreme unpredictability and risk? In Greenland, the north Baffin Inuit have the word uggianaqtuq to describe the unpleasant feeling caused by a friend behaving strangely, or even a sense of homesickness experienced when one is actually at home. More recently, this word has been coopted to describe volatile weather conditions and the sense of one’s surroundings becoming unreliable – storms brew more suddenly and last for longer, the ice is thinner and food is noticeably more scarce. Where you used to be able to sustain yourself by hunting, fishing and foraging, now you may have to supplement this with trips to the newly established supermarket. But how are you supposed to pay for the food? And what if you can no longer afford to feed your dog?”