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Instant Opinion: ‘Labour should choose a leader who can actually win’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Thursday 16 January

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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. Tom Harris in The Daily Telegraph

on gender politics

Instead of indulging in identity politics, Labour should choose a leader who can actually win

“It would be wrong to assume that there is any kind of public yearning for a female leader, or that gender is seen as some kind of political qualification. Like a northern accent, being female is neither the most important line in a candidate’s CV, nor a reason to exclude you from the race.”

2. Gerard Baker

on learning from past mistakes

Democrats are clinging to their own Corbyn

The prospect of a Democratic Party led by the firebrand senator (Bernie Sanders) in November terrifies many Democratic leaders in Washington. They say that, however it may look to Democratic activists, a candidate with his consistent record of opposing much of US foreign policy, favouring massive tax increases and vastly expanding the role of the state is just too much of a leap for the crucial swing voters who will determine the election. The senator’s supporters say that Donald Trump demonstrated in 2016 that this traditional way of looking at electoral politics is obsolete. Gone are the days when a candidate needs to appeal to the centre ground. Instead Sanders’ radical left-wing populism is, they argue, the perfect counterpoint to Trump’s radical right-wing populism. Seasoned observers of politics on both sides of the Atlantic are sceptical. They note what happened in Britain last month and see no reason why Americans would not do the same thing.”

3. Martin Kettle in The Guardian

on independence

The Scottish standoff will not be decided at Westminster

“One of the consequences of ignoring a subject for too long is that once people are forced to engage, they can adopt and speak up for stances that don’t withstand scrutiny. That’s a live danger in this debate, especially for English politicians who can all too easily find themselves feeding nationalist grievances by making ignorant and condescending remarks. This certainly applies to many English Conservatives, who have suddenly rediscovered their unionism but without having thought what 21st-century unionism might look like.”

4. Donnachadh McCarthy in The Independent

on climate change and the media

The Australian bushfires have caused a rift in the Murdoch family that could help fix our climate crisis

“Media corporations are the crucial linchpin to unlocking the global action needed on the climate emergency. There are about 30 media corporate leaders globally who have the power to save humanity and what is left of nature. James Murdoch has the credibility to call a global climate summit of these media leaders. Such a summit would literally have more power to engender change than the UN’s climate conference in September. If he could inspire them to step up to the historic existential responsibility with which fate has entrusted them, then maybe, just maybe we might find a precious tiny ray of hope emerging from the smoking embers of the devastated Australian rainforests.”

5. Steven Glover in The Daily Mail

on national celebration

There's no need for a ding-dong, but Big Ben should ring out for Brexit

“Big Ben is a national symbol. When it strikes the hour — though it is mostly silent during the absurdly prolonged four-year restoration of the Elizabeth Tower — it marks out time for the British State. No one thinks, on hearing the inimitable sound of Big Ben, of celebration. It is just formidably there — through wars, successive governments and political upheavals, as it was when our grandparents were alive, and their grandparents before them. That is why, even while the tower that houses it is being lengthily restored (I expect the Chinese could build a dozen brand new replicas in four years), Big Ben has been allowed to strike on Remembrance Sunday and New Year’s Eve. Why not on the day we leave the European Union? Our departure is a huge national event, whether you like it or not, and that is what Big Ben is in the business of noting.”

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