Instant Opinion: ‘Westminster is failing victims of sexual assault’
Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Friday 7 August
The Week’s daily round-up highlights the five best opinion pieces from across the British and international media, with excerpts from each.
1. Gaby Hinsliff in The Guardian
on anonymity for rape suspects
Charlie Elphicke’s conviction took three years. Westminster is failing victims of sexual assault
“If you’re a woman, would you feel comfortable getting into a lift, alone, with a man accused of sexual assault? How about waiting for a taxi together late at night, or even discussing something personal in a meeting? If you’re a man, would you avoid friendly chitchat with someone who may or may not be guilty, or go out of your way to show that everyone is innocent until proven otherwise? For more than two years, almost everyone in professional contact with the former Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke must have wrestled with dilemmas like these, and this week’s revelation that a second unnamed Tory MP has been accused of rape means some will shortly be wrestling with them again... Another week of ugly stories emanating from Westminster have rightly put its toxic working culture in the spotlight once again. Yet they also point to a less well-examined scandal affecting victims of sexual violence everywhere, which is that justice delayed can all too easily become justice denied.”
2. Philip Collins in The Times
on the PM’s plan to ‘build, build, build’
We need more than homes to level up Britain
“The problem with [Johnson’s] proposals is not their ambition, which is laudable, even though Tory nimbys in the southeast of England will do all they can to frustrate them. It is that the government is over-selling their importance. Levelling up, to cite the aim of the Johnson government, will not come through investment in bricks and mortar; it will come through investment in people. Ministers should study Labour’s Neighbourhood Renewal Unit, which disbursed a lot of public money during the late 1990s and early 2000s. It aimed to regenerate those places in the Midlands and the north that are now known as the red wall. If it had worked as it was intended to do, there would probably have been no Brexit and they would still be electing Labour MPs. A lot of money was committed, plenty of buildings went up, but not may lives were changed.”
3. David Brooks in The New York Times
on intellectual ferment in the GOP
Where Do Republicans Go From Here?
“During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump and Bannon discarded the Republican orthodox — entitlement reform, fiscal restraint, free trade, comprehensive immigration reform. They embraced a European-style blood-and-soil conservatism. Close off immigration. Close trade. We have nothing to offer the world and should protect ourselves from its dangers. It would have been interesting if Trump had governed as a big-government populist. But he tossed Bannon out and handed power to Jared Kushner and a bunch of old men locked in the Reagan paradigm. We got bigotry, incompetence and tax cuts for the wealthy. But by defeating the Reagan paradigm, Trump and Bannon gave permission to a lot of Republican politicians to make their own leaps. Over the last three years, it’s been interesting to watch a series of Republican officeholders break free from old orthodoxies and begin to think afresh. You could see their eyes get wider: Suddenly I can think for myself. The range of possibilities is wider than I thought it was.”
4. Rosa Prince in The Daily Telegraph
on whether the US is ready for a woman in the White House
Welcome to the most misogynist US presidential election of all time - what woman would want to run?
“Not only did [Hilary Clinton’s] opponent, [Donald] Trump, physically intimidate her on the debate stage in a way he would never have done with a male rival, he unleashed and facilitated a sexist onslaught, both on social media and in real life, his supporters routinely referring to her as a ‘bitch’ and worse. At one rally, the accomplished lawyer, New York senator, former Secretary of State and First Lady was confronted by a heckler shouting ‘iron my shirt’. In the post mortems which followed her defeat, it became clear that voters who told pollsters they would vote for Clinton balked at the prospect of electing a woman when it came to the moment they had to put a cross next to her name. The candidate herself agrees with this analysis, saying a few months after her loss of the role sexism played: ‘It is real. It is very much a part of the landscape politically.’”
5. Gabriel Gavin, a policy analyst with a focus on Central and Eastern Europe, in The Independent
on a young country with a serious identity problem
The presidential election in Belarus will be a choice between two very different futures for the country
“Although traces of Soviet history, the hammer and sickle, statues of Marx, Lenin and even Stalin can be found in various states of disrepair across the former Eastern Bloc states, Belarus is virtually alone in not just leaving theirs intact, but actually maintaining them. At the heart of this policy is an identity crisis – one which is now coming to the fore as the country prepares to go to the polls to elect its president. Alexander Lukashenko, the incumbent, has been president since the country gained independence from the USSR. His unexpected challenger is 37-year-old Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who reluctantly entered the race after her husband was barred from standing. The campaign has brought thousands onto the streets, pitting liberals against conservatives and students against their grandparents. It has exposed like never before the lack of consensus around what the future should look like in the country.”