In Depth

Instant Opinion: BBC in trouble ‘because British TV isn’t as good as it used to be’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Monday 10 February


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

1. Tim Stanley in The Daily Telegraph

on high culture

The BBC is in desperate trouble because British TV just isn't as good as it used to be

“The BBC flourished in a different social context, and not only because there was just one other channel and the pubs were shut. The ambition of postwar Britain – on Left and Right – wasn’t to deconstruct high culture but to share it around, and the schedules reflected the growing power of the working class as mediated by producers with a classical education, aspiring to communicate with eloquence to a national culture that, at that time, probably did exist.”

2. Fatima Sheriff in The Independent

on the Oscars

Parasite has changed the face of the Oscars – but the fight for film industry diversity doesn't end here

Parasite has a unique electricity, blazing a trail for film investors to take risks on new ideas. Its Oscars sweep is a sign that cinematic excellence is beginning to transcend borders – that at last, the tide is turning in Hollywood.”

3. John Harris in The Guardian

on austerity

Austerity is grinding on – it has cut too deep to ‘level up’

“The politics of continuing austerity are often maddeningly contradictory. I have been to plenty of places where cuts have intensified people’s conviction that they have been neglected by Westminster and Whitehall. That impulse was one of the reasons behind the Brexit vote. In turn, the frustrations of three years of post-referendum politics and Johnson’s cynical approximation of optimism convinced people in lots of these areas to vote Conservative. And so it is that austerity continues, while the government tries to escape the blame by cosmetically positioning itself against its own policies.”

4. Clare Foges in The Times

on immigration

Illegal migrants must be sent a clear message

“Writing about illegal immigration always feels grim. A line called fortune is scored through human existence, and on the day I was born I landed on the brighter side of it. On the other side are people who squeeze into deathtrap boats or airless lorries bound for Britain. There but for the fickleness of fortune go all of us. Yet on this issue, allowing heart to rule head is not just unhelpful but unkind. It is not kind for us to prolong the confusion that draws illegal migrants here — perhaps to their death — and that lines the pockets of the smugglers. It is not compassionate to encourage the flight of young, dynamic people from developing nations; not wise to give ammunition to the far right; not fair to the British citizens who simply want immigration that is controlled and legal.”

5. Madeline Albright and Igor Ivanov in the New York Times

on diplomacy

A plea to save the last nuclear arms treaty

“The recent escalation of attacks between the United States and Iran demonstrated how quickly the lack of guardrails can move us to the brink of war. Amid the erosion of multilateral agreements and diplomatic channels, we came close to calamity. The dangers of miscalculation are too grave for leaders to resort to ambiguous communication, threats and military action. In the years ahead, the security landscape will be made only more challenging by emerging technologies and their interplay with conventional and nuclear capabilities. So it will be crucial to create a revitalized spirit of diplomacy based on a shared understanding of the dangers, and ways to mitigate potential sources of harm.”

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