In Depth

Instant Opinion: ‘elderly paying a terrible price’ for Covid-19 protection

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Friday 23 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. Fraser Nelson in The Daily Telegraph

on restrictions on the over-70s

The elderly are paying a terrible price for being protected from Covid

“The basic point is that it’s not just about the number of years you live, but the quality of those years. Someone aged 60 may be more inclined to go for a lockdown than those in their 80s, many of whom would be quite happy to run the risk, see their friends and go about their life. Those living alone (as almost half of over-70s do) may really struggle this winter: they’re allowed to form one ‘support bubble’ with one other household, but that’s their lot. Polls show that pensioners are keen on lockdowns, but we seldom hear from those opposed. We did this week when one octogenarian was stopped outside M&S in Barnsley and asked about the coming restrictions. Two million people have now watched Maureen Eames’ answer on social media, such was her eloquence. She declared herself not overly worried about the virus (‘I’m 83, I don’t give a sod’) and unpersuaded of the merits of Tier 3 lockdowns.”

2. Andy Beckett in The Guardian

on the dying embers of a movement

This is a moment of truth for rightwing populists – but don't celebrate yet

“Yet even if the movement stays strong in Britain and the US, its best days may be over. Many voters and journalists are now familiar with its tricks and limitations, such as supposedly tough-talking leaders who can only cope with friendly audiences. Meanwhile, orthodox politicians such as Biden and Keir Starmer seem less flustered by populism than their predecessors were. They have not been drawn into its culture wars. By sounding measured instead, they’ve made the movement seem shrill. If British and American populism does lose its hold on power, it may discover an uncomfortable truth about being a supposedly radical movement in opposition. It’s much harder if you’ve just been in office: your rebel aura has gone. Populism has never had that much else.”

3. Jessie Thompson in the London Evening Standard

on a much-loved genre

A new Yorkshire Ripper series shows our appetite for true crime — but is it unhealthy?

“The appetite for the genre is gargantuan. It’s too basic to assume it’s all just cheap voyeurism. Instead it strikes me that there might be a deep human need to understand what would drive another person to commit these acts. We want to see the machinations of minds compelled to carry out unfathomable crimes to try to make some kind of sense out of them. But the more true crime I watch, the more misguided this seems. The hidden secret is nothing more than this: murderers are boring. They are not complicated, misunderstood, romantic masterminds. They are unpleasant, uninteresting people who take and ruin lives.”

4. Ash Sarkar on HuffPost

on disdain for MPs behaviour

Angela Rayner was right to give scummy behaviour the name it deserves

 “The spectacle of watching backbenchers contort themselves to defend the indefensible warrants nothing but disdain. There’s nothing wrong with giving scummy behaviour the name it deserves, and I do hope that Angela Rayner had her fingers crossed behind her back when issuing her apology. Why should somebody who argues against financial support for struggling small businesses in lockdown, or feeding hungry kids during a pandemic, be entitled to politeness? No amount of decorum can civilise our politics while the policy is barbarism.”

5. The editorial board of USA Today

on the president’s ‘convenient solution’

COVID-19 herd immunity strategy fits Donald Trump's failures in coronavirus war

“Research shows that less than 10% of the population has developed antibodies from coronavirus infection and is potentially immunized, where roughly 60% is necessary to achieve herd immunity. Allowing that many people to be infected, given the COVID-19 fatality rate, would lead to hundreds of thousands of additional deaths. Even then, it remains unclear whether immunity from infection lasts very long. Reinfection cases, though rare, have emerged.”

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