Instant Opinion

‘The SNP’s plans promise speculative benefits while ignoring real trade-offs’

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


Oliver Kamm in The Times

The SNP’s plans for rejoining the EU don’t add up

on Scottish rejoiners

“The Scottish National Party is a latecomer to the pro-European cause,” writes Oliver Kamm in The Times, having “recommended leaving the Community in the 1975 referendum now it has the zeal of a convert”. However, “the SNP’s plans, like the Brexit campaign itself, promise speculative benefits while ignoring real trade-offs”. Were Scotland to rejoin, “it would enjoy some gains from being part of its internal market but at the price of erecting trade barriers to the rest of the UK”, Kamm says, while “the concessions previously enjoyed by the UK within the EU, such as the budget rebate and opting out of the euro, would probably not be on offer.” If Scotland plans to pursue a strategy of getting their feet back under the table in Brussels, they will have to recognise that “EU governments want Britain back but not at any price”.


Fraser Myers in The Telegraph

The landmark report on racism should clear the way for a realistic debate on inequality in Britain

on modern Britain

“Since the Black Lives Matter protests last year, an unflattering picture of Britain has been painted”, writes Fraser Myers in The Telegraph. “Britain, we are told, is institutionally, systemically and irredeemably racist”, with discrimination running rife in “our education system, in our workplaces, in our culture and even in our unconscious thoughts”. So will the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report, released today, “challenge this doom-laden view”? It does not paint the UK as an “apocalyptic wasteland of racism”, instead suggesting that it is a “beacon” and a “model” for “other white-majority countries”. “The saturation of the ‘Britain is racist’ message has consequences, including for ethnic-minority Brits”, Myers adds. “Let’s hope this report opens up a more balanced – and realistic – debate about inequality in Britain.”


Amanda Parker in The Independent

It’s right to get rid of ‘Bame’ – but this report minimises racism in the process

on absolving complicity

“Along with others who’ve been lobbying for change, I’m definitely raising a glass in celebration of the decision to stop using” the term BAME, writes Amanda Parker in The Independent. But “my joy falls flat with the rest of the race disparities unit’s conclusions”. The report “concludes that because students of African and Indian heritage have higher than average education outcomes at GCSE level, this is proof that we’re no longer a racist society”. But what it fails to account for is that “despite performing least well in education”, white Britons “outperform their ethnically diverse peers in employment and social mobility”. The unit “overlooks what’s happening in GP surgeries and hospitals”, while ignoring “data on redundancies during the pandemic”, she adds. Despite the unit’s findings, racism in Britain remains “nuanced and complex”.


Dan Hicks in The Guardian

If the Queen has nothing to hide, she should tell us what artefacts she owns

on looted heirlooms

“As with ethical consumption in fashion retail, today people want to know where the culture they consume comes from – how it got here, and whether anybody is asking for it back”, says Dan Hicks in The Guardian. “This question of transparency comes into focus” after it was revealed that  “Her Majesty’s private estates were exempted from the 2017 Cultural Property (Armed Conflicts) Act”. “In the colonial era, British royal power commemorated dispossession as a source of its legitimacy”, Hicks says. But “in today’s very different world cultural legitimacy requires that stealing is neither triumphantly displayed nor hidden away or covered up”. From “our nation’s museums to whatever it is that hangs from the picture-hooks of Sandringham House, the British public and the world deserve openness when it comes to questions of theft”.


Dr Karen Levy in The New York Times

Your Tinder match will soon be able to run a background check on you

on dating data 

“There’s something to be said for the idea that intimacy is based on having discretion to share information with others”, writes Karen Levy in The New York Times. But Match Group – which owns Tinder, OKCupid and – is taking steps to make getting to know your partner easier by helping “run background checks on potential dates”. “It’s easy to understand why Match Group is making this move”, she says, as “potential partners sometimes deceive each other”, while “gender-based violence is a serious and prevalent problem”. But “it’s not hard to imagine how background checks might open the door to other kinds of data”. “Should I know whether someone has filed for bankruptcy or been married before or owns property? Should I be able to sort partners by their credit score?”, she asks. Introducing this level of checking “seems at odds with how we typically learn about one another – gradually, and with the benefit of context”.


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