In Brief

Instant opinion: ‘British politics has an entitlement problem’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Monday 9 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. James Moore in The Independent

on Eton

British politics has an entitlement problem. Can we discuss Eton’s special status?

“While the school cannot be held responsible for their alumni’s actions, it played an important role in shaping their characters. It really is time to debate the future of a school that takes in privileged young men who already think of themselves as born to rule. Eton likes to highlight its work in the community and with state schools on the aforementioned Twitter feed. In part this is because that’s what the government wants wealthy independent schools to do. It’s also good PR. I think it’s time to ask whether that’s enough to overcome the school’s drawbacks. Withdrawal of that special [charitable] status is occasionally discussed. Nationalisation less so. Perhaps it’s time to change that.”

2. Matthew d’Ancona in The Guardian

on the expulsion of moderate Conserative MPs

Without MPs like Amber Rudd, the Tories won’t survive

“The Tories have always desperately needed such figures: those who humanised the party’s tough, technocratic face and acted as guarantors of its intentions, at least to a sufficiency of voters. Just as Labour always requires a cohort of protagonists who exude competence as well as compassion, so the Tories cannot survive without a core of ambassadors who do not look as though they list ‘implementing austerity at the weekend’ as their hobby in Who’s Who. And now they’re all gone – most of them, anyway. Who knows if they’ll be back? Meanwhile, Johnson is wrecking the Conservative party at astonishing speed, turning it into a single-issue campaign group with no soul or purpose beyond the completion of his Brexit dream.”

3. Nick Timothy in The Daily Telegraph

on a seismic three months in British politics

Tories have to rally around Boris or face certain defeat by Corbyn in most important election for a generation

Labour’s strategy is a crude attempt to undermine trust in Boris and encourage more people to vote for the Brexit Party rather than the Tories. Such cynicism will continue until we once again head to the polls. The most important election in a generation will take place before the year’s end. We will decide whether the vote to leave the EU is upheld or subverted. If Brexit is stopped, faith in the democratic process will be fatally undermined. The Tories will be smashed. And a dangerous Marxist will govern the country. Understanding the stakes, Boris has decided to be ruthless. He needs to stand firm, and his party needs to stand with him.”

4. Edward Lucas in The Times

on how once-revered British companies have lost their way

British Airways is a great brand in free fall

“Balance sheets do not readily reflect the really important things about a company, like staff morale, customer trust and environmental stewardship. It is all too tempting for managers to squander these assets in order to boost financial performance. Investors won’t notice until it is too late, by which time the decision-makers are long gone.”

5. David Leonhardt in the New York Times

on why Democrats need to stop helping Trump’s re-election chances

Democrats Need to Get More Ruthless

“Over the past two decades, incomes for most Americans have barely grown. Median wealth has declined. Americans are frustrated, and a majority supports a populist agenda: higher taxes on corporations and the rich, expanded government health care and financial aid, a higher minimum wage, even a Green New Deal. The Democrats are on solid ground, substantively and politically, by pushing all of these issues. They should be casting Trump as a plutocrat in populist’s clothes, who has used the presidency to enrich himself and other wealthy insiders at the expense of hard-working middle-class families. It’s a caricature that has the benefit of truth. When pundits yearn for economic triangulation, they’re the ones confusing their own policy preferences with good political advice. The mistake that Democratic candidates have made is thinking that just because they should activate their progressive id on some issues, they should do so on all issues.”

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