Instant Opinion

‘Dido Harding is playing with fire in her bid to become NHS England chief’

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

1

Gaby Hinsliff in The Guardian

Dido Harding’s pledge to cut overseas NHS staff is a kick in the teeth

on a dangerous bid 

Tory peer Dido Harding, “fresh from presiding over the chaos of track and trace”, has made an “audacious application to follow that” by gunning for the role of NHS England chief, writes Gaby Hinsliff in The Guardian. “Crucially, her pitch for the job reportedly includes a pledge to stop relying on overseas-born doctors and nurses and train British-born replacements instead,” she adds. “Short of stringing up a banner reading ‘Go Home, Foreigners!’ outside every hospital, it’s hard to think of a bigger kick in the teeth for the 14% of NHS staff who weren’t born in Britain and who will have arrived for work this morning, presumably wondering which of the patients whose lives they may save today would secretly prefer they weren’t here.” So “after a traumatic year fighting Covid, their reward is seemingly to become pawns in a game that can only embolden racist patients”, Hinsliff adds. “It’s hard to know for certain whether all this is part of a shockingly politicised public campaign for the job, or a leak designed to damage Harding by uniting NHS staff against her. But either way, it’s playing with fire.”

2

William Hague in The Times

Planning reform could be Boris Johnson’s poll tax

on house building 

“The furore over the planning white paper reminds me in some respects of the gathering fuss about the poll tax,” writes William Hague, reflecting on a discussion he had with the then prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, after narrowly winning a by-election in Richmond, Yorkshire in 1989. “That is not to argue that it will be such an all-consuming issue or bring down a prime minister”, he continues, but the results of the Chesham and Amersham by-election signal there may be “huge trouble ahead, not just in the southern shires but among northern Tories, most of whom live in their own pleasant suburbs and villages”. “In a digital age, can we not involve local people much more in shaping nearby developments without losing time? In a low-carbon age, shouldn’t more homes be built near to workplaces?” he asks. “It can be hard to spot the issue on which you have to give ground. But if dozens of your own MPs are very worried, millions of people could be affected and angered, and longstanding voters have just given you a good thumping, you’ve got some very big clues.”

3

Ross Clark in The Telegraph

Without British influence the EU is retreating into a protectionist hole

on cultural divides

“Wasn’t Brexit supposed to turn Britain into an inward-looking, small-minded country while the EU forged ahead with its internationalist approach?” asks Ross Clark in The Telegraph. It seems “that was the wrong way round”. “Just look at the bloc’s latest initiative: an impact study of ‘British cultural imperialism” – which will be used to ban or limit the availability of British programmes in the bloc”, Clark says. “Of all the problems facing Europe, it is hard to imagine that too much Poldark being beamed into French and German living rooms would rank very highly,” he suggests. “But that is to under-estimate the minds of EU bureaucrats, whose interpretation of the words ‘ever-closer union’ appears to mean erecting barricades preventing all kinds of nasty, non-EU people and stuff from polluting the great cathedral of European civilisation.” If British television does well in Europe, “it isn’t because cultural imperialists in Whitehall have trained their gunboats on Europe’s TV studios”, he adds. “If EU programme-makers feel they are losing out on market share, they do have the option of trying to improve the quality of their products.”

4

Elaine Moore in the Financial Times

Too many influencers, not enough eyeballs: will boredom kill Instagram?

on yesterday’s platform

Instagram, “once the apple of Facebook’s eye, has spent years rebuffing accusations of toxicity”, writes Elaine Moore in the Financial Times. “But tedium is a painful new problem”, one which “poses a threat to Instagram’s money-making abilities just as its owner’s market valuation approaches a trillion dollars”. “It is difficult to know whether Instagram has changed or its users have simply grown up. The millennials who made Instagram into a phenomenon are creeping towards middle age, after all,” notes Moore. Indeed, the pandemic “seems to have hastened an existing trend. Bragging, the motivation for most Instagram posts, did not sit well with cancelled holidays and shuttered restaurants.” She goes on: “Instagram must hope that its user base is big enough to avoid MySpace-style irrelevance. Facebook has shown that it is skilled in extracting more revenue from the same pool of users even as its cultural impact dwindles.” Instagram will “need to perform the same trick again”, Moore adds, otherwise “user boredom will start to hit the company’s bottom line”.

5

Derek Thompson in The Atlantic

What quitters understand about the job market

on work-life optimism

“Quitting your job is hot this summer,” writes Derek Thompson in The Atlantic. “More Americans quit in May than any other month on record going back to the beginning of the century.” And it’s not just low-wage workers who are “eyeing the door”, it’s white-collar workers too. So “why the sudden burst of quitting?” asks Thompson. One theory is “that we’re living through a fundamental shift in the relationship between employees and bosses” meaning “up and down the income ladder, workers have new reasons to tell their boss to shove it”. “Quitting gets a bad rap in life, as it’s associated with pessimism, laziness, and lack of confidence,” Thompson says. “In labour economics, however, quits signify the opposite: an optimism among workers about the future; an eagerness to do something new; and a confidence that if they jump ship, they won’t drown but rather just land on a better, richer boat.”

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