Instant Opinion

‘There has never been a better time to accept Tony Blair’

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


Jordan Tyldesley in The Independent

If the Labour Party ever wants to win again, it must embrace Blairism

on learning old lessons

“For Labour, it feels like things can only get better. Not in the bouncy, optimistic sense, mind you, but in a very stark and sobering sense. Things need to get better and they need to get better quickly,” says Jordan Tyldesley in The Independent. She acknowledges that admitting to liking Blair is deemed by “some on the left, an act of treason” and that he had his own “failings”, but she suggests that as Labour’s “red wall” in the north turns blue, “there has never been a better time to discuss and – more importantly – accept him”. Starmer would “benefit from some lessons in confidence and strategy from Blair”, says Tyldesley. “It is time to move away from abstract student union ideas and embrace the fact that New Labour was not only palatable to the working class but a near perfect formula.”


Thomas L. Friedman in The New York Times

Israelis, Palestinians and their neighbours worry: is this the big one?

on unrest in Gaza

“Is this the big one? Is this the start of the next Palestinian uprising?” asks Thomas L. Friedman of this week’s violence in Jerusalem and Gaza. Unlike the intifadas that began in 1987 and 2000, he continues, there is no Palestinian on the other end of the phone “to turn it off” – “or, if there is, he’s a 15-year-old on his smartphone, swiping orders and inspiration from TikTok, the video app often used by young Palestinians to challenge and encourage one another to confront Israelis”. Writing in The New York Times, Friedman says the situation could calm down in three or four days or it could turn into “another Intifada, with the street imposing its will on their leaderships”, shaking Israel, Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Egypt and the Abraham Accords. “If that happens,” says Friedman, “I suggest you download TikTok to follow it all in real time.”


Michael Deacon in The Telegraph

Was this the oddest Covid news conference Boris Johnson has held yet?

on cautious cuddles

At yesterday evening’s Downing Street news conference, Boris Johnson “stared down the barrel of the lens and intoned his stern message to the nation: please hug responsibly”, writes Michael Deacon in The Telegraph. “In this particular context, there was something mildly surreal about the sheer solemnity of his tone. Hug with caution. Cuddle at your own risk. Please tickle responsibly.” Deacon says it was one of the “more peculiar” news conferences the PM has ever had to give, but the British public “will have heard his message loud and clear”. “Luckily, of course,” he adds, “we’re such a repressed and inhibited nation, he’s probably got nothing to worry about. Thank goodness we aren’t Italian or French.”


Giles Coren in The Times

A national thank you day? Pass the sick bucket

on too much clapping 

“The infantilisation of Britain in the face of the coronavirus pandemic reached its apogee yesterday with the call for July 4 to be declared national… ugh, sorry, I got a little chunk of sick there in the back of my throat… national… oh God, I don’t think I can trust myself to get the words out… Thank You Day,” writes Giles Coren in The Times. “I thought we’d all agreed the weekly clapping nonsense was a hollow and patronising mistake.” Coren proposes a rival event aimed at “all the people who made lockdown hell, the noisy neighbours, the joggers and cyclists, the mask Nazis, the dog-stealers and virtue signallers”. He says: “I haven’t decided what to call it yet, but how does National F*** Off Day sound to you?”


Daniel T. Willingham in the Los Angeles Times

How much do kids learn from ‘educational’ video games? A ratings system could address that

on a new type of rating

Daniel T. Willingham, a professor in the department of psychology at the University of Virginia, has an idea for the gaming industry: tell parents which games are the most educational. He admits it “may sound like the fox guarding the henhouse” but suggests a model that could make it work. Independent experts in learning “could create ratings for educational content”, including what topics players might learn about. “I don’t think my kids need to learn something from every leisure activity, but it would be nice to know more about the games I’m greenlighting,” says Willingham. “Given the enormous cultural influence of gaming companies, they owe parents that much.”


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