In Depth

Instant Opinion: ‘no room for mistakes’ with just 10% of Brits immune to coronavirus

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Friday 5 June

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

1. Rupert Beale, head of the cell biology of infection laboratory at the Francis Crick Institute in London, in The Guardian

on the danger of a deadly second wave

Less than 10% of Britons are immune to coronavirus. There's no room for mistakes

“Fundamentally, it is not just the government that has to get this right – it is all of us. If we want to preserve our economy and our NHS, we must behave with personal integrity and responsibility. There will be mistakes, and no doubt there will still be hypocrisy and incompetence. These are human characteristics from which no government will ever be entirely free. What matters now is that suppressing the virus is the correct approach – and that we have the means to carry it out... The absolute worst thing we can do is give up hope. I wouldn’t despair too much about pictures of crowds. The virus transmits less well outdoors. But we should be keeping two metres apart, and it’s irresponsible not to – for any reason, even for highly justified protests. We cannot afford to mess this up.”

2. David Aaronovitch in The Times

on the new hope for justice in a decade old case

Let’s hope this is end of the McCanns’ ordeal

“The phrase ‘Scotland Yard detectives are due to fly to Portugal tomorrow’ must now be one of the most familiar news lines in Britain. Almost anyone out of school will instantly know what it means. That there’s a possible development in the case of Madeleine McCann. And having been heard so many times over the last, long 13 years, it is likely to be greeted with scepticism, since all the other stories and leads have turned to dust. But perhaps this time it’s different. Possibly the German paedophile named as Christian Brückner is, finally, the answer to the mystery. As I write this, news updates on the story are making my Apple watch vibrate every few minutes. The German authorities in Braunschweig have been confident enough to say that Madeleine should be assumed to be dead, even though Scotland Yard detectives are being more circumspect. The man is said to have been in the area at around the time Madeleine disappeared in 2007, was known for committing burglaries, and was already on the list of 600 or more potential suspects who were investigated. All circumstantial but perhaps a fragment of someone’s memory has been jogged after all this time. For the sake of the family, I hope so.”

3. Michelle Goldberg in The New York Times

on the NYT’s decision to publish a controversial opinion piece

Tom Cotton’s Fascist Op-Ed

“The value of airing Cotton’s argument has to be weighed against the message The Times sends, in this incendiary moment, by including it within the bounds of legitimate debate. Everyone agrees that The Times draws those boundaries. The question is where. I could be wrong, but I don’t believe The Times would have published a defense of family separation by former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen during the height of that atrocity, or a piece by the senior Trump aide Stephen Miller about the necessity of curbing nonwhite immigration. In both cases, I’m pretty sure the liberal inclination to hear all sides would have smacked up against sheer moral abhorrence. It’s important to understand what the people around the president are thinking. But if they’re honest about what they’re thinking, it’s usually too disgusting to engage with. This creates a crisis for traditional understandings of how the so-called marketplace of ideas functions. It’s a subsidiary of the crisis that has the country on fire.”

4. Alexandra Phillips in The Daily Telegraph

on the Conservative’s failure to prioritise the economy

How is the so-called party of business struggling to get Britain back to work?

“Bill Bryson wrote in Notes From A Small Island that the British would have managed communism far better than the Russians. Apart from a few wistful vegetarians with Che Guevara t-shirts in Lit Crit lectures at University, I have always doubted that this is an endorsement many Brits would delight in hearing. Yet since pseudo-socialism on steroids descended during lockdown, it seems we are not the nation of capitalist crusaders we perhaps once thought we were. The English in particular have shown in successive elections that they want pro-wealth, pro-business governance purporting a Protestant work ethic and rejected the stifling over-regulation of centrified continental control from Brussels in a referendum. Yet here we are, having tasted three months of furlough, watching the so-called party of business yank their hair out trying to get the nation up and running again.”

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5. James Moore in The Independent

on the disenfranchisement of Britain’s disabled community

Disabled people like me are being ignored by the government just when we need the most help

“Amid the coronavirus pandemic, a substantial portion of our community is facing a crisis that this country’s government is wilfully ignoring. Ten of the sector’s leading charities sought to address the issue by prodding it into action via an anguished plea for help through their umbrella body, the Disability Charity Consortium. The money they need to pay for services that have never been in higher demand is drying up, which has left disabled Britons sailing up shit creek without a boat or a paddle. Some of the smaller ones may go bust. The consortium moved only after a determined effort to raise the issue with ministers behind closed doors drew a blank. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. Boris Johnson’s government seems more interested in disenfranchising Britain’s elderly and disabled MPs by demanding they attend the House of Commons to vote rather than doing it remotely when they are supposed to be shielding themselves and/or family members from the pandemic, than it is in paying attention to the plight of the nation’s disabled people.”

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