Instant Opinion

‘Nick Clegg is Facebook’s useful idiot’

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

1

Jawad Iqbal in The Times

Nick Clegg’s pious defence of Facebook is brazen hypocrisy

on switching sides

“Facebook employs a useful idiot. He is Sir Nick Clegg,” writes Jawad Iqbal in The Times. “His official title is head of global affairs and communications but his real job is to defend the indefensible,” Iqbal says. “The latest service rendered to his tech masters is a 5,000-word essay, ‘You and the Algorithm: It Takes Two to Tango’, in which he piously declares that any harmful content on Facebook platforms is all the fault of the users,” he continues. Clegg has “gall” to write such an essay when it was not long ago he would “pour scorn” on the company as Liberal Democrat leader. “The mystery is how Clegg continues to get away with such brazen hypocrisy and no more than a passing acquaintance with anything resembling political principle. Who can forget his 2010 promise to students that there would be no rise in tuition fees, only to treble them in office?”

2

Jonathan Nunn in The Guardian

Covid should have been a boon for Deliveroo – but it still hasn’t turned a profit

on inconvenient costs

“In a year when entire industries have collapsed, food delivery apps seem to have had an easy ride,” writes Jonathan Nunn in The Guardian. “But look closer and there is a persistent niggle about the apparent success of food delivery apps,” he says. “Deliveroo is heralded as a ‘British tech success story’ by the chancellor (and make no mistake, it is a British tech success story by every metric except actually making money).” We’re becoming too used to the convenience afforded by delivery apps, Nunn writes, "becoming inured to its hidden costs”. “Tech promised us a utopia, but convenience is still built on the inconvenience of those with the least power: restaurant workers and delivery drivers.”

3

Serge Schmemann in The New York Times

The Freeing of the Ever Given

on the Suez saga

“In the end, a full moon succeeded where puny machines could not, wrenching the mammoth barge out of the Egyptian mud in which it became wedged six days earlier,” writes Serge Schmemann in The New York Times. This was not “a minor crisis”, yet a photo of “a toylike excavator scratching at the sand under the beached, iron leviathan became the icon of the saga”, he writes. “Social media, inevitably, lit up.” But “on the serious side”, the stuck Ever Given and resulting six-day blocking of the Suez Canal “demonstrated how easily maritime choke points can be sealed off, and at what cost.” “Choke points on sea routes have been a source of conflict through much of history, and the saga of the Ever Given demonstrates just how vulnerable they remain.”

4

Rory Scothorne in the New Statesman

‘War on woke’: the meaning of the Alba Party

on the new Faragism

“Beset by glitches and awkwardness, the launch of Alex Salmond’s new Alba Party wasn’t exactly a statement of political seriousness,” writes Rory Scothorne in the New Statesman. “Alba is the new vanguard party of Scotland’s ‘war on woke’,” says Scothorne, “a bekilted ally, whether its supporters like it or not, of Faragism and the right-wing gutter press.” He adds: “Salmond and his fans may have finally found a way of settling into their own safe space, abandoning the compromised work of gradualism to pursue a different kind of power, out on the shadowy fringes of acceptable conduct.”

5

Ben Lawrence in The Daily Telegraph

Theatre snobs, get behind Game of Thrones – you might actually enjoy yourselves

on staging a recovery

“It was inevitable, I suppose. Game of Thrones, the HBO fantasy phenomenon that became the biggest TV talking point of the 2010s, is to turn into a stage show destined for both Broadway and our own West End,” writes Ben Lawrence in The Daily Telegraph. “Theatre snobs may roll their eyes and whinge about a lack of imagination in commissioning; many will say it’s a cynical money-making exercise and a sign of cultural moribundity,” he writes. “But that would be short sighted.” “Westeros may seem like a world away from what, to many people, the West End should be about, but popular spectacles such as this should not be faulted. They are going to play a crucial part in London’s recovery.”

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