Instant Opinion

‘Covid risk awareness can’t turn into crippling caution’

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

1

James Forsyth in The Times

The political class have lost their taste for risk

on overbearing caution

“We’ve had a generation of politicians and officials who had grown used to the worst case scenario not happening, be it the millennium bug or bird flu,” writes James Forsyth in The Times. “This bred a certain insouciance,” he says, but “Covid has changed all that” as the worst-case scenario occurred. “This will lead ministers and civil servants to err on the side of caution for the rest of their careers.” The challenge now is to "ensure that this greater awareness of risk doesn’t turn into crippling caution. We must work out a new way of balancing risks,” says Forsyth. “We can’t have travel restrictions in place forever.”

2

Jonathan Wittenberg in The Guardian

Priti Patel’s asylum reforms will only deepen the despair of refugees

on a lack of compassion 

Priti Patel is right in saying that the UK’s asylum system needs an overhaul, “but in ways very different to those she sets out”, writes Jonathan Wittenberg in The Guardian. “The proposed reforms lack compassion for the journey so many refugees have faced,” says the rabbi of North London New Synagogue. The system as it stands adds to the “mental cruelty” they have already endured. Refugees who come to the UK are already “trapped in an indefinite limbo between the torture of the past and the torment of being unable to work, earn, build a future and live with the dignity due to every human being”.

3

Philip Collins in the New Statesman

It’s too early to write off Keir Starmer’s leadership – but soon he will have to address the nation

on left-wing vision

“The most significant fact about Keir Starmer’s leadership so far is that it coincides almost exactly with lockdown,” writes Philip Collins in the New Statesman. “Real politics has been in mothballs.” If Starmer had tried to address a subject other than Covid he “would either have been humiliatingly ignored or criticised for insulting irrelevance”. But “nobody needs lockdown to end more than he does”, Collins adds. “The trumpet will soon have to sound from the city walls, to announce that the Labour Party, under new management for a year in limbo, would now like to address the nation.”

4

Fraser Nelson in The Telegraph

The Home Office is getting worse at managing the asylum system – and only has itself to blame

on a broken system

“Boris Johnson has started to tell friends that he was let down by his own liberal instincts” in the initial stages of the government’s pandemic response, writes Fraser Nelson in The Telegraph. “His fear at the time was irreversibility.” Lockdown, however, proved to be a popular policy “to the prime minister’s initial amazement. But he talks now as if he has been given a new mandate from the electorate,” Nelson adds. This week, the creation of a “Health Security Agency” was announced. An odd name, says Nelson, but “perhaps the language is simply catching up with reality: that the fundamentals of a biosecurity state are now under construction”.

5

Sam Leith on UnHerd

Harry, the Prince of PR

on modern royalty

“For years, the Duke of Sussex was trapped in a stifling world of meaningless protocol, emotional illiteracy, artificial language and stale ritual gestures,” writes Sam Leith on UnHerd. Who can blame him for “wanting to break free”? It was a “noble aspiration” but the “emerging reality” looks less promising. Prince Harry’s announcement that he is to be the “Commissioner on Information Disorder” at the Aspen Foundation was littered with “expressions that no ordinary English-speaking human being has ever uttered spontaneously aloud or written without irony”. It has been mere months since the Prince left the rigid rules of the “Firm” and now he has “offered himself as a human meatpuppet: his name and image, his personal beliefs and feelings, are available to be presented to the world in the hackneyed corporate cliches of a press release”.

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