Instant Opinion

‘Keir Starmer is in danger of missing his moment’

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

1

Daniel Finkelstein in The Times

Starmer is making a big mistake on sleaze

on the wrong message 

“Boris Johnson is definitely in trouble,” writes Daniel Finkelstein in The Times. “Being referred to the standards commissioner is very serious stuff.” Yet, “even without this issue” the biggest threat to any party in power is the sense that it’s “time for a change”. On this front, Keir Starmer is “failing to seize his opportunity”, Finkelstein writes. Labour’s slogan, which contends we are seeing a “return to Tory sleaze”, just “isn’t quite right”. The message “could tarnish Labour, as antipathy rises towards politicians in general rather than the Tories in particular”, he argues. “Sir Keir has a reputation for integrity and intelligence that should make these events the ideal ones for him to show his qualities”. Instead “he is in danger of missing his moment”.

2

Allison Pearson in The Daily Telegraph

There’s a reason you’ve not seen your GP recently – and frankly it’s a scandal

on overdue appointments

“Have you managed to see your GP lately? I mean, actually see them in person, not on a screen, or heard them during a consultation down the phone?” asks Allison Pearson in The Daily Telegraph. “Or have you, perhaps, been asked to send the surgery a photo of the tumour on your leg, which is what one reader tells me happened to her 94-year-old mother” she continues. The “widely lamtented” failure to resume face-to-face appointments “has given rise to the suspicion that GPs will never get back to normal”, writes Pearson. “Indeed, Covid is being used as cover for driving though a change in working practices which would be abhorrent to most British people, should they ever be consulted.”

3

Joel Wertheimer in The Guardian

To understand why Joe Biden has shifted left, look at the people working for him

on fresh faces

“In president Joe Biden’s first address to Congress last week, he celebrated the $1.9tn relief plan that passed within the first days of his presidency”. Along with action on family care, green infrastructure, education and jobs, it was something “Democrats might have been surprised to hear from even Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders”, writes Joel Wertheimer in The Guardian. “Biden’s decisions, like those of any president, are heavily influenced by what the staffers who populate the White House tell him,” he writes. This new cohort of staff has “never known a Republican party worth negotiating with. They are tired of the Republicans and are convincing their principals to join them.” He concludes: “If Biden’s presidency is remembered as more progressive than anyone anticipated, they will have played no small part in making it so.”

4

Melanie McDonagh in The Spectator

What is the point of Meghan Markle’s new children’s book?

on private sentiment 

“Meghan Markle has written a book for children. Of course she has,” writes Melanie McDonagh in The Spectator. “There is no celeb, no matter how busy, who doesn’t have a children’s book in them, because children’s books, you might think if you didn’t know better, don’t need plot or character or much in the way of style. It was either that, or a cookbook.” There are only a few available excerpts of the book, The Bench, but “the poet’s iron determination to get a rhyme out of boy and joy is notable”, McDonagh writes. “As a private poem from a mother to a father, it may be terrifically affecting but I’m not sure these sentiments aren’t better kept to the couple concerned.”

5

Philip Collins in the New Statesman

Labour is too weak to win and too strong to die

on the new politics

“Politics has shifted on its axis and the Labour Party does not know what to do about it,” writes Philip Collins in the New Statesman. “The change is easy to describe but hard to contend with. Where once voting was largely an aspect of class and occupational solidarity, now it has become an expression of cultural attitude.” The “gateway drug”, says Collins, was Brexit, “which has made political affiliation unrecognisable to politicians schooled on industrial politics”. “The 2021 local elections and the Hartlepool by-election will delineate the new politics,” writes Collins, and there will be “a lot of talk in the aftermath about the death of the Labour Party”, he writes. But it could be that “Labour is both too weak to win and too strong to die”. 

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