In Depth

Instant opinion: ‘Johnson has lost his aura as one of life’s winners’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Thursday 5 September

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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. Matthew d’Ancona in the London Evening Standard

on the prime minister's false promise

No majority, no control... Johnson has lost his aura as one of life’s winners

“When Johnson became leader, it was widely asserted — in a triumph of hope over experience — that he would unite his party by sheer force of will and charisma. How stands that claim today? It was also asserted that, unlike the hapless Theresa May, he was one of life’s winners. Now, that claim lies in ashes, too.”

2. Zoe Williams in The Guardian

on why Labour has not backed a snap election

Boris Johnson is a hostage in No 10. No wonder he fears a long contest

“Perhaps the biggest question is why Labour MPs didn’t vote for a general election when they’ve been calling for it all this time. Part of the explanation is rank mistrust: as soon as they march willingly into an election period, there is no parliament; and a government that has talked freely about ignoring the rule of law could do something extraordinary. Labour fears Johnson could later change the election date to after 31 October. But it is mainly strategic: if they push the calling of an election back to mid-October, blaming it on the government’s own prorogation of parliament, they give themselves more time – for the student vote to get registered in the first weeks of the academic year, for the formulation of a remain alliance, and – of course – for the government itself to unravel. This would put the election itself in November, or even later. It is flat-out bizarre for any progressive force to choose the dark nights of winter for a showdown: they traditionally benefit more than conservatives from a higher turnout. But again, that might be just a signal of strange times.”

3. Alastair Heath in The Daily Telegraph

on the new Conservative Party

Ignore the Remainer triumphalism – Boris is still on course for victory

“The Tory party is dead; long live the Tory party. The seismic realignment that was supposed to take place in 2016 is finally upon us, and a tougher, rougher, non-deferential conservatism is making its explosive debut. Ruthlessly focused on the public’s priorities, its ideology is complex. In some ways, it will be more pro-capitalist and pro-freedom: especially on tax, motoring and the nanny state. It will be more conservative on law and order, defence and immigration. In yet other areas, such as health and overall public spending, it will back a larger government, as we saw in a Spending Review that increased overall expenditure by 0.5% of GDP over two years. But the biggest difference, of course, is that 31 years after Margaret Thatcher launched the modern Eurosceptic movement with her Bruges speech, her side has finally triumphed.”

4. Gerard Baker in The Times

on growing anxiety over the health of the US economy

Trump’s second term depends on the Fed

“If the US economy were to slow significantly or fall into recession, Mr Trump is all but finished. His approval ratings have been historically weak from day one of his presidency, even with an economy that boasts a 50-year low in the unemployment rate, rising wages and elevated equity prices. If that prop is kicked away, then it’s hard to see how he could win even if the Democrats picked Karl Marx to run against him.”

5. Tom Clements in The Independent

on the alt-right

I fell down the rabbit hole of alt-right propaganda and this is what I learned

“It's true what they say about the alt-right: it's a tiny – I mean, really tiny – group of people and its members reside largely in the gloomier recesses of the internet. So why is such a small cabal having a profoud effect on our modern political discourse? Because, as I found out myself, when something goes wrong in life, it's so incredibly easy to slip down those dark rabbit holes. The alt-right fantasy of a white ethnostate, which its leading proponents espouse, harks back to a set of ideas last popular in early modern history. We might have considered these now confined to the ideological dustbin but, for some, they are providing a new refuge from a world which makes them feel vulnerable and unheard – just like the alt-right orators they idolise.”

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