In Depth

Instant Opinion: is Generation Z ‘turning to the right’?

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Wednesday 8 July

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

1. Eric Kaufmann, professor of politics at Birkbeck, University of London, on UnHerd

on why the ‘Jordan Peterson generation’ is so conservative

Are young people turning to the Right?

“Something unusual is happening among Britain’s youngest voters, known as Generation Z or the Zoomers. Increasingly, those under the age of 22 seem to be diverging from voters aged between 22 and 39, and appear considerably more conservative, to the point where today’s 18-year-olds are about as right-wing as 40 year-olds. How might this be explained? Are Zoomers just more irreverent, reacting against their politically-correct older siblings? Or is it that Britain’s newest voters are simply too young to have been shaped by the Brexit shock? Whatever the explanation, in the immediate post-Brexit years the youngest voters were 40 points more liberal than the oldest. Today they are only 20 points more to the Left.”

2. Rafael Behr in The Guardian

on the state of a loveless union

A Scottish independence crisis is on its way – and English politics is in denial

“Downing Street’s Plan A to dampen the clamour for independence was hosing Scotland with public money, but competition for that resource is getting more intense and areas with Conservative MPs are the priority. If there is no sign of a Tory revival north of the border, an even more cynical path might appeal: letting the flames of resentment roar in Scotland, igniting a Johnson-supporting English nationalist backlash. All the better if that sustains the toxic question of whether Labour needs SNP MPs to support a coalition come a general election. It would take an exceptionally irresponsible prime minister on a streak of constitutional pyromania to pursue such tactics. Johnson is qualified. A conflagration in Scotland might not be the next crisis to destabilise Britain, but it is in the queue. It is also unnerving how little England is prepared, when Scottish politics is a rolling rehearsal. That bodes ill for the pro-union cause.”

3. Sophia Akram in The Independent 

on the UK’s Magnitsky Act 

If Britain wants to lead on human rights, it should start with its own citizens

“If Britain wants to be seen as a leading defender of human rights, perhaps it should start with the very same Brits it disowned and left to wallow amid the chaos of civil conflict or as pawns in a political game. Tauqir Sharif, a British aid worker who was stripped of his citizenship last year, is a case in point. Last year, the British government claimed he was aligned with groups aligned with Al Qaeda and deemed him too much a national security risk to return to Britain, which he denied. Yet the decision continued against him while leaving him in the dark about all of the evidence in question, because citizenship revocation appeals allow for the government to draw on intelligence heard in secret... This two-tier system now hangs as a guillotine over the heads of immigrant children and naturalised citizens as it denies them the same recourse as other citizens in the UK. Do people like Sharif deserve it?”

4. Nina Power, senior lecturer in philosophy at Roehampton University, in The Daily Telegraph

on an art scene ‘set against freedom of speech’

JK Rowling’s treatment is a grim sign of how Twitter mobs have poisoned our cultural life

“I myself have been cancelled quite a few times now, had a fellow co-panellist refuse even to look at me or listen to my talk (after she tried to get me banned from the event, much to the bemusement of the organisers). I’ve been picketed and had one institution decide to pay for security guards to protect me. I’ve had former friends write untrue and horrendous things about me in public in an attempt to smear me – and all for suggesting on Facebook that the Labour Party might have a problem with women raising questions about proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act, and for refusing to accept the terms of a small number of people regarding who we can and can’t talk to. When you ask to talk to your cancellers face-to-face, they always, of course, refuse. It appears to me that contemporary culture is screwed, and not only by the virus. After plagues, there are often periods of great artistic flourishing. Perhaps we’re on the cusp of this, but it’s not going to come from these cowardly institutions, more concerned to avoid bad publicity than they are in understanding the world.”

5. Thomas B. Edsall in The New York Times

on the partisanship of the Trump era

How Could Human Nature Have Become This Politicized?

“The intensifying differences between the two parties, particularly over matters of race, sex and the family have created a fertile environment for what amounts to the partisan politicization of human nature... The electorate has been divided into two separate camps based on voters’ preference for key foundational moral principles and the policies that derive from them, their social and cultural identities, and their preference for democratic or illiberal leadership. Politicians understand this intuitively, which means that even as Donald Trump is convinced that chaos, confusion and conflict will enhance his prospects for re-election, Joe Biden is working to quell the fires that Trump is lighting.”

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