Instant Opinion

‘We have crossed a line in surrendering our freedoms’

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

1

Daniel Finkelstein in The Times

Were we too ready to surrender our freedom?

on government powers 

“Having locked down the country for the best part of a year and suspended basic civil liberties once, we are far more likely to do it again”, writes Daniel Finkelstein in The Times. “We have crossed a line and it will stay crossed”, he adds. “Ensuring that the powers the government has granted itself are abolished rather than kept for a future occasion is going to be hard political work”, he adds. “As is ensuring that we set the bar very high for renewing such powers in the future.”

2

Tom Harris in The Telegraph

Starmer's failure to shore up the Labour heartlands spells trouble ahead

on the red wall

“The Hartlepool by-election will certainly be a major test” for Keir Starmer, says Tom Harris in The Telegraph. “But even a humiliating loss in a seat that has been Labour for most of the post-war years will not mean he has to be replaced at the top of his party.” “There is no appetite in the party for a fresh leadership contest and no obvious successor waiting in the wings”, Harris argues. More worrying for the party is that the Conservatives could even be a possible contender in what should be “natural Labour territory”. “Starmer must be thankful that a general election is still at least two years away.”

3

Stephen Bush in New Statesman

MPs believe the scenes at Clapham Common are the best we can expect from the Met Police

on policing problems

What has united the “average MPs” from both Labour and the Conservative Party “is an apparent acceptance that the scenes at Clapham Common are the best that either politicians or Londoners can expect from the Met Police”, says Stephen Bush in the New Statesman. The police force is used as a useful way to signal “Conservative toughness and Labour weakness, or Labour generosity and Conservative meanness”. That might suit the political ends of Johnson or Starmer, but “it has no value for anyone else”, Bush adds.

4

Rafael Behr in The Guardian

Johnson wants to move on from Covid – 125,000 deaths shows why we need an inquiry

on post-pandemic reckonings 

“If there has been a ‘Johnson factor’ in Britain’s pandemic response it will not be recorded as the key to national salvation, even by generous biographers”, writes Rafael Behr in The Guardian. “Too many people have died who might have lived if different decisions had been taken”, he writes. But even so, “the prime minister wants the record of his failure overdubbed with celebration of his success”. The “urgency” in setting up an inquiry is “not to accelerate the settling of partisan scores”, but to “secure for posterity the foundations of fact on which the history of the pandemic will be written”.

5

Constantin Eckner in The Spectator

Germany’s vaccine debacle goes from bad to worse

on vaccine chaos

“Germany’s decision to stop using the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine has been condemned internationally”, writes Constantin Eckner in The Spectator. And “it has also gone down badly with Germans.” The country’s Health Minister Jens Spahn finds himself “under fire” and “did himself few favours” when he underlined how few cases of thrombosis had been linked to the jab. This week’s events “could well prove to be the final nail in the coffin” for Spahn’s political career, who only a few months ago was considered a potential candidate to succeed Angela Merkel. After the vaccine debacle, many Germans have concluded that Spahn “is simply not up to the job”.

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