Instant Opinion

‘Scotland’s political culture is in a dire state’

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


Henry Hill in The Telegraph

Now, more than ever, the PM must hold firm on refusing a Scottish independence referendum

on the Salmond inquiry

The scandal unfolding in Holyrood over the Scottish government’s botched attempts to deal with sexual harassment accusations against Alex Salmond has revealed “a political culture in a dire state”, says Henry Hill in The Telegraph. A skilful performance from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at Wednesday’s inquiry means “it seems unlikely… that the chaos will lead to the immediate downfall of the first minister”. But to ensure the health of the union, Boris Johnson must refuse a referendum, forcing the question of independence “beyond Sturgeon’s time in office” and thus negating her “unique connection to Scottish voters”.


David Aaronovitch in The Times

Boris Johnson has double standards on the IRA

on historic admissions

Roy Greenslade, the former editor of the Daily Mirror and a journalism ethics professor, revealed he was a silent supporter of the Provisional IRA in an “unrepentant admission” featured in the British Journalism Review this week, writes David Aaronovitch in The Times. “Yet,” says Aaronovitch, “such is the character of the prime minister that I couldn’t help wondering whether, had Greenslade become an enthusiastic Brexiteer late in his career, he might have avoided the condemnation and won instead a seat in the House of Lords.” That’s what happened last summer when Claire Fox, formerly of the Irish Freedom Movement, became Baroness Fox. “So IRA-supporting Greenslade is to be condemned but the even more IRA-supporting Fox is to be ennobled. And why?” asks Aaronovitch. “It’s simple: Johnson doesn’t care and he and his coterie don’t think you care either.”


Cathy Newman in The Independent

The pandemic has laid bare the social care crisis as never before

on a creaking system

“It’s getting on for two years since Boris Johnson stood outside Number Ten and promised, in his first speech as prime minister, to ‘fix the crisis in social care once and for all’,” writes Cathy Newman in The Independent. But so far “an ominous silence” has descended over those plans. The coronavirus crisis has revealed the scale of the social care crisis. “A lack of staff, years of underfunding and a fragmented system have all contributed to what they [those working within the sector] believe was a preventable tragedy,” Newman adds.


Kate Andrews in The Spectator

Rishi’s nightmare: will inflation crush the recovery?

on the spring budget

“At first” increasing corporation tax “seems to make no sense”, says Kate Andrew in The Spectator. “Britain is in the middle of the worst economic crash in recorded history, with a Chancellor who is famously keen on low taxes, spending control and sound money.” So why is Rishi Sunak increasing taxes on business? “The explanation most Tories comfort themselves with is that Sunak wants to explain to a high-spending Prime Minister that today’s cash splurge is tomorrow’s tax rise,” she says. But Sunak is “motivated by something else… not dreams of fiscal sanity… but nightmares… [about] an inflation resurgence that could crush Britain’s economic recovery”.


Seamas O’Reilly in The Guardian

Irish outrage at Pontins obscures the truth about anti-Traveller racism

on blatant discrimination

“I was well into my adult years when I realised a word that I… had been using as an insult was actually a name,” Seamss O’Reilly writes in The Guardian. “You could be called this word if you had scuffed trainers, or if your school uniform had gone a little threadbare.” It meant you were a “cheapskate, ingrate, reprobate and wretch”. He continues that he was reminded of the “power of that word” when news broke that holiday chain Pontins had a list of surnames that it banned from staying at its resorts. “We know that no one in Ireland is more Othered than members of the travelling community,” he adds.


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