In Depth

Instant Opinion: Labour candidates ‘fail to impress’ on Andrew Neil

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Thursday 5 March

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

1. John Connolly in The Spectator

on Labour hopefuls

Starmer and Long-Bailey fail to impress on Andrew Neil

“At the beginning of the year Lisa Nandy became the first Labour leadership candidate to subject herself to a grilling by Andrew Neil. It took almost two months, but this evening the two other candidates left in the race, Keir Starmer and Rebecca Long-Bailey, finally appeared on the show as well. And while both survived the encounter, neither particularly impressed. Keir Starmer appeared to have trouble defining his political relationship with Jeremy Corbyn. The Holborn and St Pancras MP admitted that Corbyn was a major issue on the doorstep at the last election, but then unconvincingly denied there were any rifts between him and the Labour leader over the party’s Brexit policy last year. At one point, Starmer even suggested that Corbyn was ‘utterly relaxed’ that his Shadow Brexit Secretary had gone off-script in calling for a second referendum, a month before it became official party policy.”

2. Robyn Urback in The Globe and Mail

on the threat of Trump

Joe Biden is anything but a sure thing

“The presumption is that Mr. Biden can turn purple states blue in a way Mr. Sanders cannot. The problem with that line of thinking, however, is that it failed spectacularly in the not-so-distant past, when the party backed Hillary Clinton over the same flailing Vermont senator. Her team overestimated Ms. Clinton’s base of support in states such as Michigan and Wisconsin and underappreciated the appeal of a disruptor such as Mr. Trump to an American electorate hungry for an outsider. The results of that election were not only a shock to pollsters but also a blow to the political dictum that the most broadly palatable candidate will necessarily be the successful one.”

3. Poorna Bell in The i

on addiction and grief

I hadn’t even told my parents about my husband’s addiction. When he died by suicide, I decided to tell the world

“After he died, I realised that the isolation of now being a suicide widow was unbearable. Suicide is a death that tends to horrify people, and grief in general is not something we feel comfortable discussing. I was faced with two paths. One was to try and work through my grief in silence, the best way I could. The other was to try and help other people in the same situation so that they knew there was love and understanding out there, and more importantly, that they knew there were options in terms of help, and how to get recovery. Removing the shame around addiction and mental illness was also a crucial part of this, because I had seen how it had been such a big blocker to Rob and I in terms of accessing help.”

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4. David Aaronovitch in The Times

on nudists

The law only seems to protect trendy beliefs

“I have nothing against naturists. The offence caused to me by happening upon unexpected genitals while walking an isolated bit of shingle is nothing compared with that caused by men in sleeveless vests, people who don’t even acknowledge you when you’ve held the door open for them, and loud music in restaurants. I have never been mugged by a nudist. But should abusing a naturist be classified as a ‘hate crime’? The head of British Naturism, Dr Mark Bass, argued this week that it should. About once a month, said Dr Bass, he receives a report from one of his 9,000 members saying that they’ve been subjected to distressing abuse (usually verbal) on the grounds of their naturism. Sometimes this would happen when they were naked, sometimes just because they were known to be naturists. The police, he argued, should have the same ability to take action as they would if the victim were being abused for their race, sexuality, gender, disability or religion.”

5. Michael Chugani in the South China Morning Post

on hypocrisy

Chinese who cry racial abuse amid the coronavirus epidemic forget they are as bad as the rest of us

“Yes, racism runs deep in American society. But the same goes for China, Hong Kong, Japan, India and elsewhere. At least the US admits it has a problem and tries to right its wrongs. There is legal recourse against racism. Can I say the same of Hong Kong, where I was born, and China? I grew up being called mo lo cha, a racial slur against Indians. Many Hong Kong landlords still don’t rent properties to South Asians. Up until recently, there was an area in Guangzhou which Chinese nicknamed ‘Chocolate City’ because a large number of Africans lived there. Just imagine the outcry if a US district was dubbed ‘Yellow City’.”

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