Instant Opinion

‘Equality seemed simple, so we underestimated how revolutionary such changes would be’

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

1

Polly Toynbee in The Guardian

We can stop to take pride on International Women’s Day – but only for a moment

on International Women's Day

Today, International Women’s Day, we “look back in anger - but with pride, too”, writes Polly Toynbee in The Guardian. The passing of the Equal Pay and Sex Discrimination Acts in the 70s did not represent “liberation won”, but one step towards changing cultural norms. “Equality seemed simple, so we underestimated how revolutionary such changes would be,” Toynbee writes. Today, women still face widespread discrimination at work or in the home, and the pandemic has affected women particularly badly. So, “Are we nearly there yet? No, but we’ve come quite a way. That, at least, signals hope.”

2

Clare Foges in The Times

Harry and Meghan must pay the price of their burnt bridges

on the explosive interview

“When you come for our monarch, or her ‘establishment’, you come for Britain’s reputation, too,” writes Clare Foges in The Times. In the Queen, Britain has a “soft-power asset of incalculable value”, and she is inevitably damaged by the revelations laid bare in the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s interview with Oprah Winfrey. The Sussexes may well have chosen to “burn bridges” with the Royal Family in order to build them in the US, where they now reside. So Foges’s conclusion? “Your Majesty: remove their titles.”

3

Stephen Bush in New Statesman

How will the row between the UK and EU over the Irish border be resolved?

on an irresolvable problem

How to resolve the ongoing stand-off between the European Union and the United Kingdom over the Northern Ireland protocol? There may not be an obvious solution, says Stephen Bush. Ultimately, a working protocol entails a “harder and thicker” border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, “particularly if the British government does succeed in introducing significant and further divergence between the rest of the UK and the member states of the EU”. This is, of course, unacceptable to Unionists. Yet there is no ready alternative. It means “continuing pressure on power-sharing in Northern Ireland and continuing and ever-growing tensions between the UK and the EU”.

4

Ross Clark in The Spectator

What the return of classrooms means for Covid

on return to school panic

The mass reopening of schools today is likely to have an effect on infections in England, “especially given that it involves a section of the population that has not been vaccinated”, says Ross Clark in The Spectator. But if there is either a decline or increase of new cases, “how much of it will be real and how much of it created by extra testing?” he asks. From today, 3.4 million secondary school pupils will be routinely tested twice a week, who previously would only have been tested if they had developed symptoms at home. The government should be prepared to explain any such “upwards blip” and avoid a “panic reaction” which could throw our march out of lockdown “off-course”.

5

Bel Trew in The Independent

The people of Iraq need more than the Pope’s impassioned pleas

on a historic visit

A few short years ago, when the city was still under occupation by Islamic State militants, it would have been “unthinkable” for the Pope to visit Mosul’s Church Square. Now, “the most recognisable emblem of Rome” is there, “preaching peace.” It is much needed in a country where the Christian population has dwindled from more than a million to just over 200,000, facing violence and persecution. And it is not just Christians. Other minorities, such as Yazidis and Turkmen, feel unwelcome too. “The question now is whether this incredible stunt by the Pope will achieve anything” and whether his “heartfelt pleas will bear fruit”.

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