In Depth

Instant Opinion: ‘Tories should hope that Donald Trump loses’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Wednesday 9 September

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

1. Daniel Finkelstein in The Times

on a bad ally for Britain

Why Tories should hope that Trump loses

“Donald Trump is not — he cannot be — the Conservative candidate in November’s presidential election. British Tories should not be hoping for his re-election or sending the slightest signal that they do. The first reason for this is not one of political calculation. It’s simply this: four more years of Donald Trump is not in our national interest. The relationship between Reagan and Thatcher was rooted in their common view of world affairs and acceptance of a responsibility to defend western Europe and political democracy, particularly against communism. Donald Trump has no interest in our view of world affairs, or anyone else’s apart from his own. And his own view is primarily shaped by whoever happens to be nice about him, or looks to him like a strong man, or who might help his chain of hotels and branded goods. He is neither interested in providing international leadership nor capable of providing even if he were.”

2. Sean Smith in The Independent

on selective amnesia in the 24-hour news cycle

Boris Johnson’s memory trick tactics are straight out of the Trump playbook

“Selective amnesia has always conferred an evolutionary advantage. Until now.  Because in a 24-hour news cycle, recency bias makes every day a good day to bury bad news and our populist political leaders know it. It’s why Donald Trump tweets. He’s mastered the art of dealing out an incendiary new ‘line’ whenever he feels threatened because it makes it impossible for his opponents to coalesce around a coherent counter narrative. For Trump it’s proving to be an effective short-term survival tactic at the expense of long-term strategy. That’s why weekend reports that Boris Johnson is ‘fascinated’ by Donald Trump are so disturbing because it looks like the prime minister intends to follow his lead by lurching... Recency bias means that when populists normalise confusion they’re using the media to erase their past failures. Trump only has such  contempt for the ‘lamestream’ media because by making it bark incessantly he has made it lose its bite. He thinks it’s his lapdog and he might be right. The cognitive quirk that evolved to keep us sane is being used to induce amnesia and the media is inadvertently complicit. And that way madness lies.”

3. Alan Finlayson, professor of political and social theory at the University of East Anglia, in The Guardian

on the future of the British left

The era-defining question facing Labour: is there such a thing as Starmerism?

“The issue here is the question of vision. [Keir] Starmer’s cautious competence has given him approval ratings higher than those of a particularly poor prime minister. But can Labour look further ahead than next week’s poll? If so, what does it think it sees? We know that Starmer is in charge, but will there be a Starmerism lighting a path to the future and defining the party’s agenda? Political ‘isms’ give movements a sense of direction and purpose. They redraw the lines of disagreement and provide a compelling explanation of what is happening and how we got here... Starmer’s commitment to human rights and democratic reform, and Ainsley’s strong advocacy of the ’self-organisation of the new working class’ and original ideas about economic ownership could yet be the foundations of a persuasive political ideology. If that is to happen, Labour needs be less risk averse. It needs to share in the growing recognition that we have wrecked our politics by centralising power in the hands of a few whose only qualification for office is that they want it most.”

4. Thomas B. Edsall in The New York Times

on the president’s Trump card

Can the ‘Instigator-in-Chief’ Win on ‘Law and Order’?

“Trump’s political specialty is provoking and exacerbating subliminal or latent anxiety — and this probing is especially disruptive in the context of racial tensions that have surfaced in the aftermath of recent police killings of unarmed Black men... The May 25 killing of George Floyd — captured on video — prompted a surge of support for Black Lives Matter. Polling conducted by Civiqs shows that more whites opposed Black Lives Matter than supported the organization from April 2017 to the start of May 2020. But by early June, a week after the Floyd killing, white opinion shifted strongly, to 44 percent approval of the movement and 34 percent disapproval. In the weeks since then, as the media and the Trump campaign have focused on the violent conflict in Washington D.C., Portland, Seattle and, more recently, Kenosha, Wis., white attitudes toward Black Lives Matter have returned to pre-Floyd levels, according to the Civiqs data, 46 percent opposed, 40 percent in support. From that perspective, the trends would appear to be moving in a direction favorable to Trump.”

5. Julie Bindel in The Daily Telegraph

on the language of gender

If offensive inclusivity dictates that women are now ‘womxn’ - then men must be ‘mxn’

“Tedx London recently tweeted to explain why it is using ‘womxn’ to promote its so-say female-orientated event TedxLondonWomxn this year. The organisation said: ‘No, that’s not a typo: ‘womxn’ is a spelling of ‘women’ that’s more inclusive and progressive. The term sheds light on the prejudice, discrimination and institutional barriers womxn have faced, and explicitly includes non-cis gender women.’ So, they seems to be saying if one is trans then one is a woman, but actual women are ‘womxn’. You couldn’t make it up. Why is it that the so-called ‘inclusion’ of trans-identified women seems to always involve the attempted erasure of actual women? How much more ”inclusive“ can the word woman be when it represents 3.5 billion humans: just over half of the world’s population. Are they calling men ‘mxn’? Apparently not - or if they are, TedxLondon are yet to say so, despite being asked on Twitter repeatedly. Presumably, the word men will remain intact, because being “more inclusive” means asking nothing of men, and demanding that only women make sacrifices to accommodate the feelings of a tiny group.”

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