Instant Opinion

‘Boris Johnson has opted out of shame’

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


Hugo Rifkind in The Times

What does it take for a politician to resign?

on the loss of shame 

“Most of us are constrained by rules, and morals, and shame, and the expectations of others,” writes Hugo Rifkind in The Times. “The Johnson-Cummings epiphany was that you can just opt not to be,” he writes. “Don’t appear before that select committee, don’t answer that question, don’t keep that promise, don’t sack that colleague, don’t admit you broke the rules, don’t resign when it can no longer be denied,” continues Rifkind. “For an extreme example of how things used to be, consider the case of Mark Harper, who resigned as an immigration minister in 2014 after discovering that his cleaner didn’t have the right to work in the UK,” says Rifkind. “Imagine that today. I mean, it’s inconceivable, right?”


Ed West in UnHerd

Who reads the Daily Mail?

on an American niche

“The Mail is purest distilled Middle England,” writes Ed West in UnHerd, “It’s Harry Potter’s uncle Vernon and aunt Petunia; it’s social climber Hyacinth Bucket; it’s Aunt Spiker and Aunt Sponge.” The newspaper is 125 years old today “and for most of that time has represented the soul of a particular kind of England, read in the golf courses of Surrey, the semis of suburban Essex, the pub gardens of Dorset”, writes West. While the paper is “not exactly the conscience of Middle England” it is “certainly a guiding spirit”. Its power in the UK, however, is “waning”, but it has found its “niche” in the US, which has “mainstream news sites that are both dreadfully boring and ideologically dishonest”, writes West. In contrast with those sites, the Mail at least “tries to tell a story – which is, after all, what journalism should be about”.


Sherelle Jacobs in The Daily Telegraph

Boris Johnson must confront the worst-case scenario for the Union

on a dignified end 

“We may be reaching the endgame of the Union. Its demise in coming years is not inevitable – but it is plausible,” writes Sherelle Jacobs in The Daily Telegraph. “The Prime Minister may well stave off a Scottish exit,” writes Jacobs, but “it is also time for No 10 to consider seriously the worst-case scenarios.” The Conservatives would fare best if they “strike a respectable tone” in their fight to keep Scotland in the Union, Jacobs writes. “If it becomes clear that the majority of Scottish people, and not just the SNP, genuinely want a new referendum, the PM must not resist one.” And while it is “worth defending wholeheartedly”, English Tories must accept “that a dignified end would be better than a disastrous collapse”. 


Julian Coman in The Guardian

Labour’s lost voters clamour for belonging – but will the party answer them?

on ‘Red Wall’ values 

“In the wake of Labour’s terrible, soul-destroying election defeat in 2019, the need to ‘listen’ to the red wall constituency voters who had deserted the party became an instant truism,” writes Julian Coman in The Guardian. “As the first electoral test of Keir Starmer’s leadership approaches this week, how much of that kind of listening can truly be said to have taken place?” he asks. “For most of the working-class voters who have turned their back on Labour over the last 20 years, ideas of Britishness, England, place, pride, honour and industry have nothing to do with the right. They are a way of talking differently about values of the left,” Coman writes. If Labour “wishes to win back hearts and minds in the constituencies it has lost, the left cannot simply write this language off as the intellectual property of the right”.


Sarah O’Connor in the Financial Times

Not all blue-collar workers will find green-collar jobs

on net zero reality

“Today’s blue-collar workers are tomorrow’s ‘green-collar’ workers – or so politicians would have us believe. Plans to combat climate change are increasingly touted as job creation schemes,” writes Sarah O’Connor in the Financial Times. While it may be “politically savvy to tie climate change policies (or indeed any policy) to the promise of new jobs” governments “need more than boosterism to manage the transition well”, writes O’Connor. “The truth is that the road to ‘net zero’  will destroy jobs in some carbon-intensive sectors, even as it creates new ones elsewhere.”


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