In Depth

Instant Opinion: ‘vicious cycle of lockdowns will destroy us’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Thursday 15 October

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

1. Allister Heath in The Daily Telegraph

on a second national shutdown

A vicious cycle of lockdowns would condemn Britain to terminal decline

“In reality, most deaths would not be avoided, merely delayed, and there will be plenty of additional fatalities caused by the lockdown itself – including out of despair – to set against that. Unemployment would have surged, tens of thousands more businesses ruined, family and community life laid to waste, and immense misery created. What kind of society is ready to destroy so much to save so little? If he agrees to the lockdown fanatics’ every demand, Boris Johnson’s legacy would have been to sweep away the Eurocrats, and cut back on the juristocrats, just to replace them with a new medicocracy. A gang of well-meaning scientists and doctors would be empowered to impose their narrow vision of the good on the rest of us, the first therapeutic, zero-risk state in world history.”

2. George Ajjan in The Independent

on calling the Trump-Biden battle

Here’s why the 2016 polls were wrong about Trump — and these are the polls you should believe in 2020

“The obvious implication being that Donald Trump trailing by 10 points in national polls with three weeks until the election is nothing to worry about. Right. Like soldiers about to be led to a slaughter, Trump’s supporters desperately need assurance that the battle can be won, lest they desert their posts. On the other hand, Biden might be inclined to look at the polls and coast all the way to the November 3. He’s a fool if he does. Election strategists like me shout at our clients until we’re blue in the face about the dangers of early victory laps, especially in a case like this. The numbers do actually spell out a potential path to another Trump term without a popular mandate.”

3. David Aaronovitch in The Times

on the reactionary right

Reactionary right keeps getting it wrong

“A month before I was born the Bletchley Park codebreaker Alan Turing killed himself; homosexual acts were illegal and gay men went to prison. When I was a year old Ruth Ellis was hanged in a prison two miles from where we lived. Until I was 11 it was perfectly legal to operate a workplace ‘colour bar’ against black people. Pupils at my school were caned. Until I was 21 it was legal to discriminate against women in the workplace. Trains were full of cigarette smoke right up to the 1980s. In every case the same thing happened. Reformers - liberals, nanny staters, environmentalists, human rights campaigners - would point to a problem and campaign for change. And conservatives (Tory or otherwise) would oppose. Smoking was a matter of freedom of choice but homosexuality wasn’t and schools needed protecting from proselytisers turning their pupils gay. The white Rhodesians were our ‘kith and kin’ and apartheid in South Africa was better than the alternatives.”

4. Dan Hicks in The Guardian

on the weaponisation of art

The UK government is trying to draw museums into a fake culture war

“Oliver Dowden’s ad hoc attempts to cancel the normal functioning of the arts and heritage sectors along party-political lines begins by conjuring the spectre of a mob that hates statues or museums. But look more carefully and you’ll see communities and audiences are not ‘cancelling culture’, but resisting racism while expanding and improving our collective knowledge of history. An impossible logic –in which buildings and exhibits would never change – underlies the minister’s edicts and his threats to overrule the normal functioning of listed building consent, democratic consultations, curatorial expertise, and funding agreements.”

5. Aaron E. Carroll in The New York Times

on trick or treating in the pandemic

Let Kids Have Halloween

“We can figure out the logistics of marking off a lawn or street to tell children where to wait in line until it’s their turn to go collect the candy. We can walk around the neighborhood with them, even to the far-off house that gives out the king-size candy bar, to steer them to houses that are doing this right. We can put hand sanitizer everywhere, or carry it around ourselves. This one day, let’s make it entirely about kids. They look forward to it all year; they’ve suffered enough. The rest of us could put aside our individual wants and desires for one evening and do everything in our power to make trick-or-treating happen safely.”


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