In Depth

Instant Opinion: Would you take the test to detect cancer years in advance?

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Friday 14 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. Saskia Sanderson in The Guardian

why an ounce of early diagnosis is worth a pound of cure 

There could soon be a test to detect cancer years in advance. Would you take it?

“As science enables us to make the shift from treatment to prevention and earlier diagnosis, we need to be careful. The power to prevent cancer, or detect it in advance, sounds like an unalloyed good. We have to think, however, about what we are asking people to do if we tell them they harbour a subtle mutation in their cells. Information about risk does not in itself prevent disease or death. It is what happens next that matters…This could be revolutionary. It’s just important that, along the way, we don’t forget the people who are going to have to grapple with these decisions, and hopefully have their lives improved as a result.”

2. Philip Collins in The Times

how Boris Johnson has removed anyone who might challenge his authority

Reshuffle shows weakness at heart of No 10

“This is a government that seems addicted to running at breakneck speed. Boris Johnson sacked 15 people when he took over from Theresa May. Now, a few months later, he has decided that Sajid Javid, Andrea Leadsom, Theresa Villiers, Julian Smith, Esther McVey and Geoffrey Cox are no good after all. At this rate of attrition there will be nobody left to appoint by this time next year. The entrants to the team around the cabinet table — Oliver Dowden, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Alok Sharma and Suella Braverman — are not exactly indicative of a Tory party flush with talent.”

3. Fraser Nelson in The Telegraph

Why Johnson is right to have a Napoleonic model of government

This is Boris’s show – and he wants to pull all the levers of power

“To Javid, it boiled down to a simple question: was he trusted as Chancellor? If so, he’d carry on – and use his own team. If not, he’d resign. There could, he said, be no middle way. Other ministers think he was too hasty, that he could have played along. As one Cabinet member puts it, there is a secret to happiness in Team Boris: just dress up your ideas as his ideas. Stay out of the news. Don’t talk too much in Cabinet meetings. And accept that we’re in extraordinary times with Brexit talks not yet complete, so we may still need a Napoleonic model of command-and-control government."

4. Sarah Green for The New Statesman

why are boys still growing into men who feel entitled to control women?

Murders of women and girls are soaring – are we dismissing the danger of controlling men?

“So, we already know a lot about who is killed, who knew about them, and how controlling behaviour is the driver. We know the primary answer is not policing, which is why this increase in the murder rate should not be simplistically attributed to police cuts. Murders of women are arguably increasing because we are not really trying to prevent them. We need to stop minimising controlling behaviour, which requires a conversation about gender norms and inequality. And we need public services which believe women when they say they feel threatened or afraid, and understand that this does not look the same for all women. We need to redesign our response with women at the centre and accountability rather than invisibility of perpetrators. And for all of this we need leaders and champions across every part of public life. Without this, women will continue to be murdered at these alarming rates.”

5. Douglas Murray in The Spectator

why ideological latitude and tolerance is at odds with becoming an MP

Why I’ll never become an MP

“Every now and then someone asks me if I have ever thought of becoming an MP. My response tends to be a laugh so deranged that the question answers itself…I reckon it would be less than a day before I was hauled into the whip’s office, made to stand in front of the desk, a pre-written confession before me and a pen forced into my hand. Found guilty of drawing lessons from the mass-rape of children, or consorting with people from the continent who are not on the political left. There I would be, signing a statement agreeing that orthodox Jews are anti-Semites, that I have consorted with homophobes, that elected prime ministers are fringe nobodies and that while up is down, right is far-right.”


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