In Depth

Instant Opinion: ‘The emperor runs out of clothes’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Wednesday 2 December

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

1. Will Dunn in the New Statesman

on the embodiment of a problem

Philip Green: the emperor runs out of clothes
2. Allison Pearson in The Daily Telegraph

on festive gender roles

Sage has got one thing right about Christmas – women are the ones who make it work

“Frankly, I’m surprised that a document about this Covid Christmas, released by Sage, the Government’s deeply weird Scientific Advisory Group, has been criticised for being sexist. ‘Women carry the burden of creating and maintaining family traditions and activities at Christmas,’ it said. Tweeting the document, Sky News anchor Sophy Ridge demanded: ‘What century are we in?’ I hate to say this, Sophy, but when it comes to the sexes at Christmas we’re still roughly in about 1839. It is women, not Santa, who shoulder the sack of gifts; instead of a crack team of elves, at least we now have Mr Amazon to help. ‘Do I have to do EVERYTHING?’ Yes, obviously you do, but I’m not sure most women would have it any other way. Christmas unites the female rage for perfection with our heartfelt wish to make our families happy.”

3. Jonn Elledge in The Guardian

on privatised rail

Good riddance to Britain’s franchised railway system

“When individual train operators, such as Northern or KeolisAmey in Wales, have failed, national or devolved governments have stepped in to run trains as ‘operator of last resort’. And in March, the system of franchises that has held sway for nearly a quarter of a century was suspended, before finally being put out of its misery in September. This is, for passengers, taxpayers, or, indeed, anyone a very good thing. It’s natural to assume that it was the collapse in passenger numbers brought about by Covid that rendered the existing franchise system untenable. Actually, it was already on its last legs, and seemed almost certain to be unwound over the next few years when the rail review, chaired by Keith Williams and launched in September 2018 after a summer of rail chaos, finally gets round to reporting. The pandemic simply finished it off.”

4. Kunwar Khuldune Shahid in The Spectator

on closing the stable door

Imran Khan’s rape crackdown won’t make Pakistan safer for women

“The fact that rape is already a capital crime hasn’t deterred many perpetrators until now. While the new law provides some measures to ensure the safety of rape survivors, it fails to address the root cause of many crimes against women in Pakistan: the perversely patriarchal notion of ‘honour’, and the Islamist inertia upholding it. The notion that a male, family or tribe’s honour is encapsulated in the female anatomy is entrenched in society. Another widely-held view is that a woman dressing, behaving or existing in a certain way is somehow culpable if she is attacked. It isn’t hard to see where such views come from. Lahore’s chief police officer appeared to repeatedly blame the victim of a gang rape earlier this year, suggesting that the woman should not have been travelling late at night without her husband.”

5. Manu Lekunze in Al Jazeera

on decolonisation

Tanzania: Magufuli’s growing authoritarianism is not an exception

“At independence, most African governments inherited states that were more or less large empty spaces, of course with variation across the continent. Population densities, in Africa, were among the lowest in the world. Many African states had few concentrated urban centres, and the vast majority of Africans in the middle of the 20th century lived in small settlements in so-called hinterlands. Threats to the power of the newly independent governments primarily arose from fellow government members and the military, or the urban population. Maintaining control, therefore, involved a number of strategies.”

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