In Depth

Instant Opinion: ‘the global Covid-19 crisis isn’t close to over’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Tuesday 30 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. Adam Tooze, professor of history at Columbia University, in The Guardian

on the need for a continued and coordinated response

The latest figures are a wake-up call: the global Covid-19 crisis isn’t close to over

“The question is do we have the political imagination, the sympathy and the grit necessary to grasp this crisis at the world level? Can public opinion and decision-makers in Europe and Asia, where the disease has been more or less effectively suppressed, be rallied to support an adequate global response to the crisis in the rest of the world? The pandemic poses a profound challenge to the contemporary imagination. It has made real both the degree of our interconnectedness and the extreme difficulty that we, particularly those of us in the west, have in grasping the global forces that are at work... If Chinese or European-style suppression is off the table, the focus must be on low-cost mass testing and a global push to ensure best practice in treatment, including key drugs for all. The costs are high but eminently affordable. With the US hamstrung by its isolationist president, the question of Covid-19, as on other global challenges such as climate breakdown, is whether Asia and Europe can combine to deliver the necessary leadership.”

2. Rachel Sylvester in The Times

on the cull of senior civil servants

This pin-striped purge is political vandalism

“The latest stand-off can be partly explained by the fact that a pandemic blame game is already under way. Downing Street wants to pin responsibility on the civil service but officials know what mistakes have also been made by ministers and political advisers. Too often, the reforming rhetoric of No 10 is contradicted by reality. Mr Cummings claims to be in favour of devolving power. ‘Anybody who has read what I’ve said about management over the years will know it’s ludicrous to suggest the solution to Whitehall’s problems is a bigger centre and more centralisation,’ he told special advisers recently... There has to be a reason for the revolution. Mr Gove has long been on a mission to save the young people who are left behind - to ‘redeem souls’, as he put it in his speech - but Mr Cummings has always been more interested in challenging systems than changing lives. The culture war launched by No 10 in recent weeks will do little to make any real improvement to people’s lives. A purge of mandarins will not make any difference to schools, hospitals or living standards.”

3. Greg Beales, campaign director at Shelter, on HuffPost

on providing Britons with a safe home and a secure job

Coronavirus Is Our Opportunity To Fix Our Broken Housing System

“We have seen through this crisis that a safe home is a fundamental human need, and an essential foundation in all our lives. It’s not something that can be left solely to the vagaries of the highs and lows of the housing market. With the waiting list for a social home standing at over a million households, now is the time we need to invest in these homes, not in five years when we all hope to have a vaccine. Why delay, when it only means land will go undeveloped, homes will sit unfinished, and builders will lose their jobs? What an opportunity this government has, to follow in the steps of post-war Conservative leaders, Macmillan, Eden and of course Churchill and invest in a new generation of social homes. What an asset they would be for a country facing an uncertain future trying to combat this virus. And what a lifeline they would be for the hundreds of thousands whose jobs are on the line without a housebuilding stimulus. The prime minister has said he wants to build, build, build. His chancellor has identified the money we need to spend. So, let’s get on with it and build social housing. It’s his best chance to deliver on that goal.”

4. Dana Milbank in The New York Times

on Trump’s grasp of, well, everything

Trump’s ignorance is total - and you can quote his press secretary on that

“If things weren’t already bad enough for President Trump — economic collapse, botched pandemic response, mass unrest — U.S. intelligence believes Trump’s ‘friend’ Vladimir Putin paid Taliban fighters bounties to kill U.S. troops. But the White House is ready with a defense: The president has no earthly idea what’s going on. Totally in the dark. Not a clue!... In fact, [White House press secretary Kayleigh] McEnany suggested, Trump still hadn’t been briefed on the Russian bounties by Monday afternoon, even though administration officials were, at that hour, briefing lawmakers. Previous presidents have claimed not to have been briefed about things they shouldn’t have known about, as when then-Vice President George H.W. Bush claimed he was ‘out of the loop’ on the Iran-contra affair during the 1980s. But this is quite unusual: The White House insisting the president was out of the loop on something he should have known about. It’s as though Trump’s ignorance is a point of pride.”

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5. Douglas Murray in The Daily Telegraph

on officers’ desperation to be ‘loved’

Britain’s woke police forces have lost their way

“When you cast your mind back across recent months what are your most distinctive memories of the British constabulary? Dancing for public likes in TikTok videos? Skateboarding down major London thoroughfares closed down by climate extremists? Officers ‘taking the knee’ before Black Lives Matter activists shortly before some of those same officers had to flee from the protesters who had turned violent? All of these sights are indelibly linked in the minds of everybody who has seen them. But in the minds of a portion of the public they meld with another vision of the British police. A vision which numerous commentators and politicians have helped to exaggerate in recent weeks... In the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minnesota, politicians and Left-wing pundits in the UK as much as in the US sought to make some grand strategic play off the back of that appalling incident.... These people – not least the organisers of BLM UK – wish to present the British police and the American police as being the same and the history of American racism synonymous with all British history.”

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