Instant Opinion

‘We need dissenting voices in the lockdown debate more than ever’

Your digest of analysis and commentary from the British and international press


Fraser Nelson in The Daily Telegraph

We need dissenting voices in the lockdown debate more than ever

on unasked questions

“Real science invites criticism and refutation – and democratic politics plays by similar principles. The job of the opposition is to oppose. But with Labour and the Lib Dems arguing for ever-longer lockdown, important questions are not being asked. The German philosopher Robert Pfaller recently spoke about this deranged turn in the debate. Ask when cases will be low enough to release lockdown, he said, and you’re smeared as a Covid denier in bed with the far-right. He calls this turn of debate Covid ‘post-rationalism’, which sums up the danger. The Covid death toll is numbingly high, thousands of lives are still at stake – so the ability to think and debate clearly has never been more important.”


James Forysth in The Times

Schools need revolution to undo Covid damage

on a shorter summer

“Long school summer holidays are a feature of British national life: so much of our children’s literature, so many of our memories, revolve around them. But it is hard to see how they can be justified now... It would require every teacher’s contract to be renegotiated and it is nigh on impossible to imagine the teaching unions giving up the perk of a long summer break without a significant pay rise. As Aneurin Bevan said of winning doctors over to the new NHS, mouths would have to be stuffed with gold. But a Tory government that is committed to social justice would be prepared to have this fight with the teaching unions. A shorter summer holiday would so clearly be better for the most disadvantaged pupils and the government should be prepared to push hard for it.”


Polly Toynbee in The Guardian

George Osborne’s legacy is all around us: his cuts left Britain helpless to resist Covid

on austerity’s aftermath

“Early cuts were just an appetiser, and [Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies] Paul Johnson thinks Osborne was surprised at the lack of political pushback. ‘A degree of hubris set in,’ says Johnson. ‘He assumed he could do it again and again.’ And he did, gouging another £12bn from benefits in 2015. The bedroom tax raised very little money, but the public understood its viciousness. The first case that was brought to my attention was that of a Hartlepool family charged for the empty room of their recently deceased seven-year-old. Cuts to universal credit, a four-year benefit freeze, a benefit cap and more came with that Osborne trope about idle scroungers in bed with the blinds down while honest folk went to work. Meanwhile, the top tax rates fell. He was clever: raising the tax threshold seemed to help the low paid, but he knew the bulk of the relief went to the top half – his middle Englanders.”


Rich Lowry in the New York Post

No, conservatives shouldn’t quit the Republican Party

on the GOP’s future

"The temptation to splinter from the GOP might be alluring to elements of both the populists and the Republican traditionalists, but this a dead end. It’s more realistic that the populists, with the passion and the numbers, could make a go of a new party, but they’d only be ensuring their own defeat and that of the GOP. The Republican Party is the only plausible electoral vehicle for any sort of right-of-center politics in America. It is worth fighting over, and it will be. That struggle is sure to be toxic and unpredictable, except for the fact that at the end of the day the Grand Old Party will still be standing.”


Mark Steel in The Independent

Boris Johnson could have honoured Captain Sir Tom Moore by funding hospitals

on superficial action

“The way that Johnson embraced clapping for Captain Tom is similar to the way he praises Marcus Rashford, when he says: ‘Isn’t this person wonderful, for pointing out what a useless heartless idiot I am? Thank the Lord this person selflessly dedicates himself to correcting some of the stuff I ruined.’ The problem is, as all sensible people agree, we can’t fund the National Health Service through taxation, as people aren’t prepared to hand over that amount of money. So instead we must have lower taxes, and fund the NHS by asking people to hand over that amount of money, because they’re inspired by a 99-year-old. The difference is, instead of the wealthiest handing it over, it’s the poor, which is fair enough as they have so much more to spare.”


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