In Depth

Instant Opinion: US primaries are ‘just dumb’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Thursday 27 February

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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. The Editorial Board at The New York Times

on a better way to do democracy

The primaries are just dumb

“As the country learned in 2016 with Republicans, the primaries and caucuses are a mess, giving the illusion of a choice in a situation where in fact voters have just the opposite — no clear choice. This year, Bernie Sanders won close to a majority in Nevada, but in the two earlier contests, in Iowa and New Hampshire, no candidate won more than 26 percent of the vote. This fragmentation helps those candidates with passionate followings, like Mr. Sanders, as it helped Donald Trump in 2016, but it produces nothing like a consensus candidate… This is no way to pick the person who will challenge a president — one who was himself nominated first by a minority within his party, then elected by a minority nationwide.”

2. Paul Kelso at Sky News

on the Court of Appeal finding third runway plans ‘unlawful’

Why the Heathrow ruling is a landmark moment

“The repercussions of this judgment will be felt well beyond the suburbs and villages surrounding Heathrow. The Court of Appeal justices have not just lifted the immediate threat of demolition from homes in the path of the third runway. By finding against the government on environmental grounds they have raised the bar for all infrastructure projects, public and private, and prioritised consideration of the impact of carbon emissions.”

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3. Patrick Maguire in The Guardian

on Keir Starmer’s bid to be Bernie Sanders

Long-Bailey’s shift to attack mode shows what awaits Starmer if he wins

“Which Labour leadership candidate has most in common with Bernie Sanders? Few of the Democratic presidential candidate’s admirers on the British left would say the answer was Keir Starmer. Yet that is precisely the comparison the favourite for the Labour leadership wants 580,000 members and supporters to make as they begin to cast their ballots this week. In an implicit rebuke to Lisa Nandy and Rebecca Long-Bailey, Starmer says he is not just in the business of uniting a fractured party at Westminster, but broadening its base in the country. Cultivating new support across class and ethnic divides has put Sanders on the road to the Democratic nomination, and Starmer believes that the same approach can put Labour back on the path to power: keep left, rebuild a diverse coalition of voters, and look beyond the red wall.”

4. Kate Harding in Time 

on grappling with words and identity after rape

I’ve been told I’m a survivor, not a victim. But what’s wrong with being a victim?

“The question that first struck me at 17 and continues to haunt me at 43 is this: What’s wrong with being a victim? Obviously, becoming a victim is undesirable. We don’t wish for bad things beyond our control to come along and interfere with our plans. But once the bad thing has happened, why are we so allergic to using the simplest, most accurate language to describe the condition of being post-bad thing? I had been violated without being in fear for my life, ergo I was far more accurately termed a ‘victim’ than a ‘survivor.’ That part was simple enough. The complicated part was that many other people who had been raped preferred survivor and found victim actively insulting.”

5. The Editorial Board at The Independent

on the UK response to coronavirus

Matt Hancock’s worries about the coronavirus don’t go far enough – now is the time for action

“Although Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has professed himself ‘worried’ by the situation – understandably – it seems to be under control. In the commons, when Mr Hancock gave an update on the position, the mood was calm, and the opposition spokesperson, Jonathan Ashworth, was broadly supportive. Covid-19 has not yet, so to speak, gone viral as a political issue. But is that right? Are the government and the NHS well prepared to deal with this virus? As The Independent reports, the NHS is already suffering from intense pressure on bed space, and it is difficult to believe that the NHS will indeed be able to deal with a rapid escalation in cases.”

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