Instant Opinion

‘Even Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen would blush at Johnson’s new press room’

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

1

Henry Deedes in the Daily Mail

The prime minister’s £2.6m press room? Don’t give Carrie ideas!

on government decor

“Big day in Downing Street,” writes Henry Deedes in the Daily Mail. Not because of yesterday’s “soft-soap” lockdown easing, but “the grand unveiling of Boris Johnson’s new White House-style press room, built for such a costly sum (£2.6 million) the wallpaper may well have been woven from the thread produced by caviar-fed silkworms”, Deedes writes. “First thoughts on the decor? Bright. Very bright”. Even “Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen might have blushed at the brilliant blue lustre used as background”. Its oak panelling “reminded me of Judge Rinder’s daytime TV set. Or was it more Premier Inn?”, he wonders. Either way, “the setting may have been new but otherwise much of what the PM had to say was painfully familiar”.

2

Sarah O’Connor in the Financial Times

Living longer does not mean we should all work longer

on retirement age

“In the UK in 1917, King George V sent 24 congratulatory telegrams to citizens who had reached their 100th birthday. By the mid-1980s there were about 3,000 centenarians. In 2019, there were more than 13,000,” writes Sarah O’Connor in the Financial Times. "Statistics like this…are often cited by governments to justify decisions to raise the age at which people receive their state pensions”, she writes. “But what if longevity isn’t rising for everyone?”. “Decisions about retirement ages are so difficult because they sit at the confluence of two trends: the fact we are growing older, and the fact we are growing more unequal. Unless we tackle the latter, the former will be harder to bear”, she writes.

3

Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post

The world saw George Floyd’s final minutes. Now it will see whether he gets justice

on the Chauvin trial

“With the beginning of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on charges of killing George Floyd, remember that Chauvin is the man on trial, not Floyd,” writes Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post. “Remember Floyd’s desperate pleas that he couldn’t breathe, that ‘they’re going to kill me,’ that he was dying”, Robinson writes. “Remember – as if anyone could forget – that the US criminal justice system is on trial as well. And remember that, quite literally, the whole world is watching.”

4

Peter Apps in The Spectator

The dark heart of the cladding scandal has been exposed

on a national scandal

“There is no underplaying the size of what has been revealed” in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, writes Peter Apps in The Spectator. “This is a monstrous corporate scandal, enabled by failures of some of the construction sector’s most respected institutions”, he writes. Evidence given in the inquiry “has demonstrated the terrible danger of corporate secrecy, especially on matters of life safety”, he continues. “If we are to take seriously what has been revealed, a new era of transparency, accountability and tougher regulation must follow.”

5

Rachel Sylvester in The Times

Politicians can’t resist indulging in feuds

on narcissists 

“It is incredible how many politicians are prepared to sacrifice their dreams on the altar of ambition and rivalry”, writes Rachel Sylvester in The Times. Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon have undermined their independence campaign “with an extraordinary personal feud”. The New Labour years were dominated by the “destructive rivalry” between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Ed and David Miliband opened up a “fraternal rift” when they stood against each other for the Labour leadership. There is “a reason why these rivalries can be so deadly”, says Sylvester. “There is a high-minded idealism involved in standing for office but the risks and rewards are felt on a much more human level. That attracts a certain kind of person and encourages a degree of narcissism.”

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