Instant Opinion

‘Radical policy changes are needed to fix the housing crisis’

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

1

Editorial board at the Financial Times

A new deal for the young: how to fix the housing crisis

on ending ‘generation rent’

“Securing a place to call one’s own is a key marker of independence, and a step towards starting a family,” says the Financial Times in its leader column. “Yet for many young people, across many countries, a home has become unaffordable and renting is insecure, expensive, or both – especially in places where the good jobs they want are most plentiful,” the paper continues. “[U]nless they enjoy support from the ‘bank of mum and dad’ or are exceptionally well paid, many in the younger generation are stuck as ‘generation rent’.” One of the most crucial issues the UK government must tackle is the “inadequate growth in supply, including of affordable housing”. Fixing the housing crisis will take “some radical policy changes. It is time to embrace them,” the paper concludes.

2

Adam Greenfield in The Guardian

We know Amazon is killing the high street, so why do we keep clicking on ‘buy now’?

on instantaneous wish fulfilment 

“Like virtually all companies with a major online presence, Amazon employs an army of experience and service designers to map the ostensible ‘pain points’ of bourgeois existence, and devise ways to circumvent them,” writes Adam Greenfield in The Guardian. One of Amazon’s primary successes as a company is to have made the “fulfilment of desire” as “uncomplicated and as literally thoughtless as a wish spoken aloud”. But in fulfilling these wishes, we forget “what we give away when we do so”, writes Greenfield. “Shopping in person involved a certain amount of hassle, but it also gave rise to so much else that we value, including many of the things we recognise as the signatures of city life,” he says. “We understand perfectly well what we’re doing to ourselves and our communities each time we click on ‘buy now’. The problem, as so often seems to be the case when the better angels of our nature come into direct conflict with some libidinal charge, is that we just can’t seem to stop.”

3

George Greenwood in The Times

A transparent FOI system is vital for good government

on true freedom of information

“Unnecessary secrecy in government leads to arrogant governance and defective decision-making,” writes George Greenwood in The Times, quoting Labour cabinet minister David Clark in the proposals he brought before parliament in 1997 that led to the Freedom of Information Act. “Now, more than two decades after the act was passed, there are signs that compliance with transparency laws is weakening and arrogant governance threatens to return,” warns Greenwood. “A functional freedom of information system is not only a crucial tool of democratic accountability, it also makes government work better. Unless we fix it we risk a return to defective decision-making that harms us all.”

4

Ido Vock in the New Statesman

How India’s Covid-19 catastrophe is being felt around the world

on a disastrous domino effect 

Across India, “intensive care units are full and oxygen supplies have run out in some cities, leading to heart-wrenching scenes of people rushing their relatives from hospital to hospital, trying to find them a free bed”, writes Ido Vock in the New Statesman. But “India’s surge in cases has implications beyond the subcontinent”, he writes. The Indian government, “confronted by the wave of cases at home, has banned the export of most of the doses meant for other countries, leaving swathes of the Global South facing a shortfall”. “Several African countries, including Rwanda and Nigeria, have received less than a third of the number of doses they were expecting from Covax [the WHO-led vaccine delivery scheme]. Pakistan and Bangladesh, which border India, have received none.” he adds. “The effects of India’s catastrophic second wave are being felt around the world.”

5

Ian Birrell in the i newspaper

Dominic Cummings’ attack on Boris Johnson might be hypocritical, but it is spot on

on corrosive distrust 

“Given Johnson’s long record for self-serving deceit,” writes Ian Birrell in The i newspaper, Johnny Mercer, the Plymouth MP sacked from his role as veterans minister last week, “must be the only person in politics surprised to see the lack of trust that is corroding Downing Street. The Prime Minister has proved repeatedly that he is duplicitous in his private life, his journalism and his politics. One day he is a climate change sceptic, the next a green warrior,” writes Birrell. “His only fixed belief is in his own right to rule. Everything about his brand – the bumbling style, the classical quips, the stumbling jokes, the tousled hair – is carefully contrived artifice to mask intense lust for power.” And it is MPs such as Mercer, or the “Machiavellian” Cummings, who pushed Johnson into power “despite his glaring flaws and dishonesty”. The result is a “Prime Minister with no beliefs beyond his Old Etonian entitlement heading a party that has addled in power”.

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