Instant Opinion

‘Starmer’s Labour has a fondness for abstaining on tricky decisions’

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


Alan Lockey in The Telegraph

The policing bill is an affront to liberty. Labour is right to oppose it

on political policing

Before Saturday’s heavy-handed policing at a Clapham Common vigil for Sarah Everard, the Labour Party was ready to abstain on the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. “That position has now, rightly, been abandoned,” says Alan Lockey in The Telegraph. “The question it leaves is why it was ever the plan in the first place?” Under Keir Starmer, “the party has shown a regrettable fondness for abstaining on tricky parliamentary decisions”. The Labour leader proved himself able to make tough strategic calls, as he did with December’s Brexit deal. “Yet when Labour think the public is looking the other way they appear happier to sit on their hands,” Lockey adds.


Rachel Treweek in The Times

Government is failing vulnerable victims of domestic abuse

on hidden violence

“Behind closed doors it is not only isolation which has increased” in this pandemic, writes Rachel Treweek in The Times. “So too has the scourge of domestic abuse, which has been referred to as a shadow pandemic.” The Domestic Abuse Bill, which reaches the report stage in the House of Lords this week, is a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to provide a “robust framework” to protect survivors of domestic abuse. But these protections must also extend to the most vulnerable women: migrants and women in prison. “The Domestic Abuse Bill must also be a roadmap for safety in which all are included.”


David Spiegelhalter in The Guardian

There’s no proof the Oxford vaccine causes blood clots. So why are people worried?

on vaccine scaremongering

“It’s a common human tendency to attribute a causal effect between different events, even when there isn’t one present,” writes David Spiegelhalter in The Guardian. A few people may have presented with blood clots after receiving the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, but trials have proven the vaccine to be “extraordinarily safe”, he adds. We may never fully rationalise ourselves out of the “basic and creative urge” to find patterns where none exist, but we should practise “some basic humility before claiming we know why something happened”.


Nick Maughan on Reaction

The Great British Summer could widen the attainment gap

on inequality in achievement

The prime minister’s multimillion-pound catch-up programme for children in England is a “highly laudable initiative”, but “we must be conscious of the high likelihood that disparate levels of opportunity provided to young people this summer will serve to further exacerbate the educational attainment gap between rich and poor”, Nick Maughan writes on Reaction. “We mustn’t fool ourselves into thinking it is enough to tackle the disparities which are likely to arise this summer all by itself.” The government budget allocated towards summer schools for the disadvantaged should become an annual fixture, not a one-off. “This is not after all a one-off problem, but a generational calling.”


Dr Mark Toshner in The Spectator

Europe’s vaccine suspensions could come back to bite Britain

on vaccine delays

“Britain has done many things wrong in its handling of the pandemic,” says Dr Mark Toshner in The Spectator, “but it has done one thing well: the rollout of the jab.” We have useful lessons to teach the world, but Europe in particular “does not appear to be listening”. Fears over blood clots have stopped the vaccine rollout in several European countries, and that spells “bad news” for Britain and for Europe. “Stop/start rollouts will make it harder to pick up any actual real complications, which rely on accumulating evidence,” adds Toshner. “We may think for the moment that in the UK we are outside this particular crash looking in; in reality we are all going to be damaged by these delays.”


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