In Depth

Instant Opinion: EU is ‘no defender of workers’ rights’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Friday 25 October


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

1. Larry Elliott in The Guardian

on the curious case of “Lexit”

Don’t be fooled – the EU is no defender of workers’ rights

“In consequence, the only sure way to advance workers’ rights is to elect a government pledged to full employment and collective bargaining. The notion that only Brussels stands in the way of a barrage of deregulation betrays not just a misunderstanding of the way the EU operates but also a deep and irrational pessimism on the left, a belief that the Conservatives will be in power for ever no matter what they do. The left doesn’t need the EU to fight its battles. What it needs is to make the case for better working conditions and win over a public sick of a labour market loaded in favour of employers. With a bit of self-confidence it shouldn’t be that difficult.”

2. Sinan Antoon in Al Jazeera

on decades of despair in Baghdad

A cruel and crucial October in Iraq

“The sense of despair and disappointment the protesters feel and their desire to reclaim Iraq was crystallised in one of their main chants: ‘We want a country.’ These protesters are young Iraqis who came of age in the wake of the Anglo-American invasion of 2003. The invasion toppled Saddam Hussein's regime, but it also dismantled the Iraqi state and its institutions, dictated a flawed constitution, installed a sectarian-based dysfunctional system, and populated it with parties and politicians, many of whom were allies if not pawns of the US, Iran and Saudi Arabia. The so-called political process, mischaracterised as a "democracy" by Western pundits and journalists, has cobbled together a failed state that is incapable of providing the minimum prerequisites for a dignified life for average Iraqis.”

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3. Jamelle Bouie in the New York Times

on the president’s problematic choice of words - and those who refused to condemn them

Donald Trump’s “lynching”

“No, [Lindsey] Graham did not live through this era. But his parents did, and the violence of that period marks the place he calls home. It marks the entire region and state. As a lawmaker who represents that state — who represents families and communities upended by racial terrorism past and present — Graham has a particular responsibility to that history. He owes his constituents a degree of sensitivity, an awareness of the weight of a word like ‘lynching’. Graham has rejected those obligations. Instead, he’s content to affirm President Trump’s endless sense of his own victimhood.”

4. Peter Guest in Wired

on a city succumbing to the waves

The impossible fight to save Jakarta, the sinking megacity

“The city’s new walls have bought it some time, but not much, and possibly not enough. Behind them is an alarming case study in how politicking, greed and vested economic interests can lead to a dangerous inertia – a microcosm of the global failure to address climate change. Whether the city saves itself, or whether it becomes the first megacity lost to environmental catastrophe, will depend on a combination of ground-level social change and engineering works of unprecedented scale to hold back the tide.”

5. Phil CW Chan in the South China Morning Post

on jumping out of the frying pan and into the authoritarian fire

Singapore is no alternative for Hongkongers who want freedom

“Singapore is also not a state party to the United Nations Convention against Torture. Caning is mandatory for unauthorised affixing of a poster on a public wall (our Lennon Walls, for instance, on second conviction), rioting and many other offences. Equality on the basis of sexual orientation, which the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal has found to be a Basic Law requirement, is absent in Singapore; consensual sexual activity between men remains a criminal offence under section 377A of the Penal Code... Contrary to what Singapore's current and former government officials and newspaper editors might like one to think, Singapore is not a peaceful society. It is a controlled society par excellence.”


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