Instant Opinion

‘To ensure this lockdown is the last one, we should not make the same mistake twice’

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


Jennifer Dowd in The Guardian

The approach to Covid-19 in schools is one of dangerous exceptionalism

on roadmap omissions

While many parents have “heaved a sigh of relief” that England’s schools are due to reopen on 8 March, Oxford University professor of population health Jennifer Dowd is concerned that “aside from testing pupils on a twice-weekly basis, ministers have offered no further detail on how transmission in schools will be prevented”. Children “of all ages around the world are wearing masks in school this year” and “the same should be the case in England”. Schools should also be “better ventilated”, Dowd argues in The Guardian, noting that “portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters can make a big difference at a relatively low cost”. These “basic school mitigation measures” can have “a significant effect on the rate of transmission” yet were not put in place last September. “To ensure this lockdown really is the last one, we should not make the same mistake twice.”


Hugo Rifkind in The Times

What is the point of Sir Keir Starmer?

on hand-wringing

“What’s the point of an opposition that doesn’t want to bring down the government?” asks Hugo Rifkind in The Times. Being willing to be unreasonable is part of being the leader of the opposition, he suggests, but Keir Starmer is “cripplingly poor at being unreasonable”. Instead, the Labour leader “just wrings his hands, transparently aware that things could be much, much worse, but without the cavalier swagger to pretend that he, personally, could make them much, much better”. Yes, the “honesty” of this approach “may be refreshing”, writes Rifkind, but “honestly, what’s the point of it?”


Suzanne Moore in The Daily Telegraph

It’s time to end the martyrdom of motherhood

on knackered mums

“Mothers have been utterly abandoned in every possible way during this pandemic,” writes Suzanne Moore in The Telegraph. Yet despite the “brutal reality” of the “domestic toil” they face each day, “motherhood is still venerated. Mother’s Day is coming up and we are already being bombarded with inspirational quotes and cards that make you want to throw up.” Mothers “are not heroes, we are exhausted”, says Moore, and “we want something better”. And bear in mind, “we have the power over life itself. Every single one of you was of woman born. Ignore us at your peril.”


Hannah Selinger in The Independent

Trump will seize control back at CPAC and Mitch McConnell must be terrified

on a tactical mistake

Donald Trump is expected to tell the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this week that he intends to run for the White House again in 2024, after being acquitted by the Senate on the charge of inciting the Capitol riots. In light of that predicted announcement, Hannah Selinger wonders in The Independent whether Mitch McConnell now regrets his decision to vote not to convict the former president despite having “made a compelling speech on the floor of the Senate blaming Trump for the insurrection”. The senior Republican had the chance to “banish the demon”, but instead “left the door wide open for the revitalisation of Trumpism”, writes Selinger. “As nervous as everyday Americans might be to hear what Trump has to say at CPAC on Sunday, I can only imagine the state of the GOP members who failed to neuter him when they had the chance.”


Liam Mannix in The Sydney Morning Herald

Why life on Mars could be a bad omen for humankind

on planetary portents

As scientists celebrate the landing of Nasa’s Perseverance rover on the red planet last weekend, Liam Mannix asks: “What if finding life on Mars is a bad thing?” The Sydney Morning Herald science reporter suggests that “countless alien civilisations” may have “got to where we are before and then been wiped out”, possibly by an asteroid, or “a species-exterminating nuclear war, or runaway global heating”. If we find life on Mars, he concludes, “you’ve got to wonder: what is that great cataclysm that stopped other alien races from colonising the stars - and can we survive it?”


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