In Depth

Instant Opinion: ‘the Tories will have to own this crisis’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Friday 3 April

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

1. Larry Elliot in The Guardian

on who the buck stops with after the pandemic passes

Blaming Labour won't work this time – the Tories will have to own this crisis

“One of the problems a party faces when it is in power for a long time is that blaming the opposition for the mess it allegedly left behind no longer cuts it. The Conservatives have been in power for a decade. They will eventually be held to account over how prepared the UK was for this crisis. Questions will arise: was the NHS equipped to cope with a pandemic? The years ahead of the financial crisis saw the biggest sustained increase in health spending since the creation of the NHS in 1948; the years since 2010 have seen the smallest increases. Was the welfare system in a better shape to cope with the sharp contraction of the economy in 2008, or in 2020?... For the right, this is the second major economic crisis in little more than a decade. It’s the second time the state has needed to come to the rescue of an economic system where the gap between rich and poor has widened, corporations pay as little tax as they can get way with, too little attention is paid to the climate emergency, and a large proportion of the workforce is one paycheck from penury. For the left, it should be an open goal.”

2. Ed Conway, in The Times

on the oppportunities thrown up by crisis

This is the time to build a better, fairer world

“Trillions of dollars will be spent propping up our economies in the coming months. Even if we bounce back quickly we will still spend decades paying off that debt. We will have to decide who should bear the burden. Should tomorrow’s generations bear the majority of the cost, as would be the case under the present tax system? And shouldn’t big business be doing its bit too? Many companies pay little or no tax and will carry on doing so until politicians agree on an international tax system fit for the 21st century. Suddenly, after a multi-trillion-dollar economic crash, that conversation feels more urgent. Only international summits have any chance of fixing this, or for that matter other burning issues. Climate change, for instance. Or that as population growth in the developing world dwarfs that of the developed world, we are destined to face recurrent refugee crises for decades to come. With the right institutions we could manage and police migration and frontiers; we could address climate change and develop a carbon tax that worked for everyone.”

3. Michelle Goldberg in The New York Times

on why Trump’s son-in-law has no business running the US’s coronavirus response

Jared Kushner Is Going to Get Us All Killed

“Even now, it’s hard to believe that someone with as little expertise as Kushner could be so arrogant, but he said something similar on Thursday, when he made his debut at the White House’s daily coronavirus briefing: ‘People who have requests for different products and supplies, a lot of them are doing it based on projections which are not the realistic projections.’ Kushner has succeeded at exactly three things in his life. He was born to the right parents, married well and learned how to influence his father-in-law. Most of his other endeavours - his biggest real estate deal, his foray into newspaper ownership, his attempt to broker a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians - have been failures. Undeterred, he has now arrogated to himself a major role in fighting the epochal health crisis that’s brought America to its knees. ‘Behind the scenes, Kushner takes charge of coronavirus response,’ said a Politico headline on Wednesday. This is dilettantism raised to the level of sociopathy.”

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4. Human rights lawyer Karsten Noko on Al Jazzera 

on deploying the army to boost safety efforts

The problem with army enforced lockdowns in the time of COVID-19

“As with institutions, the security forces are not a problem per se. They have done phenomenal work in many parts of the world as peacekeepers in protection of civilian sites and in response to natural disasters. We cannot, however, pretend that the military - not only in the countries mentioned above - has a good reputation if they have clamped down on communities numerous times in the past. In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a lockdown of the whole country, an estimated 1.3 billion people, and authorities have said civilians risk being shot at if they do not comply with the lockdown order. For Indian-administered Kashmir, which has been under lockdown for political reasons since August 2019, what does this mean? Is it possible to explain to people, and to expect them to understand, that suddenly the lockdown is meant to protect them and the rest of the country from a pandemic? In many countries, there is an historic trust deficit between the military and communities.”

5. Douglas Murray on Unherd

on journalism failing to perform in the public interest

We don’t need ‘gotcha’ journalism now

“Of course there is, and must be, a place in every society for people asking awkward questions. But asking awkward, difficult questions is a different thing from asking the wrong questions, or asking questions which are ill-informed. And perhaps, during an epidemic unprecedented in our lifetimes, and in which very difficult decisions must be made based on highly complex scientific calculations, that kind of gotcha journalism is no longer a public service but a public nuisance. Journalism is at a difficult enough juncture, and there are many people in the trade who know a great deal. But the whole profession would be enormously helped if its most prominent representatives stopped giving off the impression of thinking that the primary problem with real experts is that they don’t listen to journalists enough.”


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