Instant Opinion

‘The name Lilibet Diana will always remind people who she is’

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


Sean O’Grady in The Independent

Lilibet Diana – the name may turn out to be more of a curse than a blessing

on a royal arrival 

“What’s in a name? Quite a lot, if you’re royal,” writes Sean O’Grady in the Independent. “Little Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor is certainly charming and her name seems well-chosen” but such a “sentimental” namesake could “turn out to be more of a curse than a blessing if the poignant experience of the past is anything to go by”, he says. The name will “always remind people who she is” and “will merely heighten interest in her as she grows up”. In any case, writes O’Grady, as Meghan and Harry’s family grows, perhaps “the royal family will be enlightened enough to see what a tremendous asset they have in the American branch of the family”, who could be convincing modernisers of the monarchy. The Windsors themselves have found it difficult to “keep up” with the pace of change in society and are now no longer symbols “of the nation and Commonwealth as a whole” but rather “of tradition and resistance to ‘woke’ values”.


Jawad Iqbal in The Times

Tech giants have gained too much power in schools

on Google in the classroom

“It’s time to sit up and pay attention to the growing domination of Google in classrooms across Britain,” writes Jawad Iqbal in The Times. We risk “giving the tech giant significant control over the future of education. When exactly did we agree to this and why would we?” Iqbal asks. “It’s not just Google: Microsoft, Apple and Amazon are pouring millions into schools globally,” he continues. “It’s about time we woke up to the growing ethical, political, technical and regulatory questions raised by the power of the tech giants before they build even greater inroads into our education system.” 


Nick Timothy in The Telegraph

Meritocracy remains our best option, but it cannot work without social solidarity

on true potential

“Who could disagree with meritocracy, the idea that our prospects should depend not on the circumstances of birth, but our talents and efforts alone?” asks Nick Timothy in The Telegraph. “The answer, it turns out, is rather a lot of people,” he writes. On the left, meritocracy is “attacked as elitist” while the right associates it with “managerial elites who gave us globalisation, mass immigration and membership of the European Union”. “If we want all our citizens to have the chance to achieve their true potential” then we must “think beyond meritocracy itself: we must aim to restore a sense of the common good”, argues Timothy. 


Will Lloyd on UnHerd

The ‘old normal’ is alive and well in Venice

on familiar sights

“Last Thursday, 15 months into the pandemic, something happened that was suggestively, eerily, absurdly normal. A cruise liner, MSC Orchestra, floated into Venice,” writes Will Lloyd on UnHerd. “Catastrophic events like Covid-19 always summon prophecies,” like the oft-repeated refrain that the “nature of work has fundamentally shifted” or that we’re “on the cusp of a revolution in green energy”. “Tourism was another industry in the process of being ‘reinvented’ too – otherwise it was finished,” writes Lloyd. “And yet there is the MSC Orchestra, all 92,000 tons of it, rolling into the lagoon city, a buoyant riposte to the notion that the world has changed.” Lloyd concludes: “The pleasures and the pains of globalisation, like the crumbling palazzos of Venice, will shake and wobble, but they won’t disappear. Post-pandemic life, as Michel Houellebecq said a few months ago, will be exactly the same, ‘just a little bit worse’.” 


Marion Boulicault and Meredith Reiches in The Guardian

Falling sperm counts aren’t as alarming as they sound

on a fertility blind spot

“What’s too small to see with the naked eye, made by half the population in batches of millions, and in alarmingly short supply?” write Marion Boulicault and Meredith Reiches in The Guardian“The answer, according to some scientists, is sperm.” But we should take “a closer look at the evidence before turning out for the ‘save the sperm’ rally”, they write. “The most recent round of apocalyptic predictions was sparked by an influential 2017 paper,” they say, but analysis of the data shows “the apocalyptic verdict of vanishing sperm is far from the only plausible interpretation of what’s going on here.” For one, it “makes the pernicious but all too common mistake of treating men in affluent, majority-white nations as the standard to which everyone else should be compared”. The truth of the matter is “more banal but accurate”: “there’s much we don’t know about the relationship between men’s reproductive health and environmental pollution”, say Boulicault and Reiches. “This blind spot is what we should be attending to.”


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