Instant Opinion

‘The tide will turn against the Tories unless they build more homes’

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


James Forsyth in The Times

Nimbyism will cost the Tories new voters

on a perennial shortage

The Conservatives have long struggled “to work out how to ensure a decent supply of affordable houses”, writes James Forsyth in The Times. And it is “the repeated failure to do this” that is “one of the reasons why property prices have risen so fast and home ownership seems out of reach for so many”. “As if to demonstrate this problem anew”, former prime minister Theresa May spoke in the House of Commons this week, objecting to the latest plans to simplify the planning system. She complained the proposals would lead to “the wrong homes being built in the wrong places”. “It’s an unconvincing argument”, that raises the question of “wrong for whom? Presumably not the people who’d certainly buy them”. Right now “the electoral landscape is set fair” for the Conservatives, Forsyth writes. “But if they fail to get enough homes built, then the tide will turn against them.”


Will Lloyd on UnHerd

Prince Harry has swapped one zoo for another

on royal glamour

In a recently released podcast, Prince Harry described the monarchy as “a mix of being in The Truman Show and being in the zoo”, writes Will Lloyd on UnHerd. “Harry, of course, is completely right. The monarchy is our national zoo – and the animals on display are human beings. Like a zoo, it is both cruel and funny.” However, “what Harry misses is the rest”, Lloyd says. “The magic of monarchy – and it is magic, not logic, or duty that powers the institution – is that all this indignity is transformed, on occasions like Prince Philip’s funeral, into majesty.” And the prince may find he was simply “somersaulted from one zoo, the British monarchy, into another – Hollywood”, he adds. Indeed, Madame Tussauds has moved its waxworks of the couple. “They have left the ‘House of Windsor Zone’ and entered the ‘Hollywood Zone’. One set of bars exchanged for another.”


Gaby Hinsliff in The Guardian

The online safety bill will show just how blurred the boundaries of free speech are

on web welfare

“For all the good social media brings, it has also created unrivalled opportunities for the resentful, the bitter and the frankly sociopathic to reach those they couldn’t previously touch,” writes Gaby Hinsliff in The Guardian. “Unlike some of the straw men set up by this Queen’s speech for ministers to knock down noisily, this problem is real.” But while the government’s new bill on online safety sounds “eminently sensible” in theory, that’s only “until you try applying it all in practice”. The bill seeks to curb the use of online platforms for illegal or harmful purposes while safeguarding the right to free expression. But, asks Hinsliff, “what’s the guiding principle here, the one rule that makes the boundaries of free speech clear to everyone?” The answer is that “there isn’t one”. “Yet the success of this bill depends in some ways on pretending that there is; that deep down we know what’s right, and that social media companies therefore have the power to fix things, if only they’re threatened with the right stick.”


Stephen Bush in the i

Keir Starmer isn’t doomed – from the left to the right, the Labour party is too nervous to depose him

on negative naysayers  

“Is Sir Keir Starmer doomed?” asks Stephen Bush in the i. “That’s the question that many at Westminster are asking in the wake of the Labour leader’s panicked and disastrous reshuffle.” A huge problem for Starmer is that although he is “a senior figure, he is not a senior politician”, having been elected as an MP just six years ago. “What gives him time to succeed is that at present, no one in Labour can be quite sure what would happen if he were to be deposed.” However, continues Bush, “given that he is a neophyte politician, no one can say for certain that his reaction to the past week will not be further mistakes”. His tenure as Labour leader “may prove to be a short and embarrassing one: an object lesson in the value of experience in politics and not much else”.


James Kirkup in The Spectator

The shamelessness of David Cameron

on getting caught out

“I’m almost starting to admire David Cameron. Almost”“. writes James Kirkup in The Spectator. “There is something that borders on the impressive about the former prime minister’s dedication to the destruction of his own reputation.” On the face of it, it seems right to write about “the public spectacle of the former PM justifying his seedy entreaties” as a form of “humiliation”, he Kirkup. “But watching Cameron glossily gliding through his evidence sessions with MPs, I found myself wondering if it’s truly accurate to talk about humiliation.” For that to be the case “Cameron would actually have to care. He’s only really humiliated if he feels the burning heat of embarrassment, the queasy conviction that he has been caught out and shown up.” He has always had “a fundamental, contemptuous disregard for what lesser people might think of him”, Kirkup adds. “After all, who are we, little people with little lives and little houses, to judge him?”


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