In Depth

Instant Opinion: Tories ‘risk repeating errors’ of New Labour

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Friday 20 December


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

1. Fraser Nelson in The Telegraph

on borrowing into oblivion

Boris's cash-splurging new government risks repeating the errors of New Labour

“If you can borrow money for the next decade at rock-bottom interest rates, and get more than your money back on investments that speed up the economy, then it does make sense. But what if rates rise? And anyway, can government be trusted to spend wisely? At the root of every debt crisis in history we can usually find someone arguing for a massive debt binge on the grounds that ‘this time is different’. It seldom is. If another debt crisis strikes, the ‘infrastructure revolution’ might end as a graveyard of half-finished projects.”

2. Joel Golby in The Guardian

on hot drink hate

Labour’s long route back to power appears to rely on denouncing coffee

“A few things happen after an election bruising like the one Labour suffered on Friday: former MPs clear their desks, members of staff are quietly let go and there’s time for reflection. It’s a quiet period of post-humbling, shoe-staring defeat, and – ah, no, sorry, just getting notice through that ‘it’s all coffee’s fault’. Stop the autopsy, lads, we’ve found the cause of death. The Labour party knows what a flat white is and now can never again represent the working man.”

3. Tom Whipple in The Times

on the merits and drawbacks of breastfeeding

If breast is best, it’s mostly good for fathers

“Science, though, is unable to give parents the certainty they want. Science can see that children who are breastfed for six months do better in life. They are wealthier, healthier and cleverer. But it can never wholly disentangle that from the fact that they had a mother with the resources, time and inclination to shackle herself to a child for six months. In general the better a study controls for this, the smaller the benefit it finds.”

4. Stuart A. Thompson and Charlie Warzel in the New York Times

on the endless surveillance of the public

Twelve million phones, one dataset, zero privacy

“After the pings of Trump supporters, basking in victory, vanished from the National Mall on Friday evening, they were replaced hours later by those of participants in the Women’s March, as a crowd of nearly half a million descended on the capital. Examining just a photo from the event, you might be hard-pressed to tie a face to a name. But in our data, pings at the protest connected to clear trails through the data, documenting the lives of protesters in the months before and after the protest, including where they lived and worked.”

5. Dylan Matthews, Zack Beauchamp, Ella Nilsen, Andrew Prokop, German Lopez and Anna North in Vox

on screen issues at the Democrat debate

3 winners and 4 losers from the December 2019 Democratic debate

“Throughout the three-hour debate, the words ‘POLITICO’, ‘PBS NEWSHOUR’ and the PBS logo crawled at a slow, nauseating pace behind the candidates. At times the letters of the word ‘POLITICO’ even appeared to vibrate, nudging into each other like the strings on a guitar being played with vibrato. People tweeted complaints all night. We tuned into this debate to hear from the candidates, not to be taunted by malevolent typography. Just put up a big blue background or something! I don’t care. This is the easiest possible thing to get right and instead viewers were subjected to the year’s most baffling graphic design.”

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