Instant Opinion

‘The ‘party elite’ designed the rules - and alongside them the get-out clauses’

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

1

Kate Andrews in The Spectator

The freedom divide: Why are politicians able to side-step their own rules?

on double standards

If the government line is to be believed, we are all simply doing our part: “the Prime Minister, Chancellor and the public all in this together”, writes Kate Andrews in The Spectator. “Everyone’s obeying the rules: it’s just that what those rules are, and who they apply to, looks slightly different.” Of course, Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak went back on their decision to skip quarantine and be part of an exclusive pilot scheme “almost as quickly as it was announced”, she says. But not before it sparked outrage “akin to the Matt Hancock revelations that social distancing didn’t apply in his office”. The U-turn may “quell the political damage this time around”, but “it is becoming increasingly difficult to hide the double standards that exist for those inside Whitehall”, Andrews continues. “The ‘party elite’ designed the rules, and alongside them the loopholes and get-out clauses that have allowed ministers to carry on with many aspects of normal life, while the public is sat at home, isolated and often alone.”

2

Stephen Bush in the New Statesman

The “pingdemic” is a symptom of the UK’s problems, not the cause

on the United Pingdom

“It’s true to say that a summer of stop-start self-isolations is potentially disastrous for most businesses,” writes Stephen Bush in The New Statesman. “If you run a restaurant and your staff are in self-isolation, you are simply losing trade,” he writes. However, there is an important “but” here, too, says Bush. It is that “amid all the talk of a ‘pingdemic’, it’s easy to forget that the constant threat of being asked to self-isolate by the NHS app isn’t a glitch in the system or some strange oversight.” He says it is “a feature, not a bug, of England unlocking, and this, coupled with the faster-spreading Delta variant, means a new wave of coronavirus cases.” He concludes: “Complaining about a pingdemic is a bit like complaining that your fire alarm has gone off because you’ve burnt something on the hob: yes, it’s a pain, but the problem isn’t the fire alarm.”

3

Katherine Denkinson in The Independent

The good ship GB News is listing – and Nigel Farage is here to sink it

on the new news channel

“The good ship GB News is listing dangerously to the Left. As one of its presenters takes the knee, the moral fibre of the country is at stake. The captain flails around desperately: ‘Is there anyone on board who can sail?!’” writes Katherine Denkinson in The Independent. “Luckily for our failing start-up, an unassuming commodities broker raises a tentative hand. Doffing his flat-cap and rolling up his sleeves, Nigel Farage bravely prepares to steer the creaking vessel into safer waters.” “Given Farage’s track record, it is unlikely that GB News will be any more successful than Reform UK or the Unfortunate Mr Fox’s political career,” writes Denkinson. “These extreme right-wing voices are active on Twitter, but the very existence of GB News and its desperate scramble to conjure into being the culture war they want us all to fear, is a sign of impending demise.”

4

Katja Hoyer on UnHerd

Germany’s floods are politically dangerous, too

on disaster politics

“A cynical mind might think that natural catastrophes like the floods in west Germany are a God-sent for politicians in election campaign mode,” writes Katja Hoyer on UnHerd. “If you can credibly pull off the rolled up sleeves, the wellies and a facial expression somewhere between grim concern and firm reassurance, the emotional gravity of the moment will do the rest.” And unfortunately for Armin Laschet – “currently the most likely candidate to become chancellor” – he “messed up”. A video emerged that seemed to show him “sniggering” while German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier “spoke of the ‘heart-tearing’ grief” he felt for the victims of the floods. Indeed, “how lasting the damage will be remains to be seen”, writes Hoyer, but as “the rain is beginning to subside and the torrents of mud are painstakingly carried away in buckets, what remains behind is potential and risk for Germany’s politicians”.

5

Nick Timothy in The Telegraph

It is time for Priti Patel to step in and force change on the failing Met Police

on radical reform

“Disdain for independent oversight and disrespect to victims of crime and their families is part of a rotten Met culture,” writes Nick Timothy in The Telegraph. “The sheer size of the force makes its leaders remote from local concerns,” writes Timothy, and while policing a population the size of London is “difficult enough”, adding the challenges presented by a capital city, like “national sporting events, security for embassies and visiting foreign leaders, and regular protests and marches”, the task becomes “tougher still”. If London Mayor Sadiq Khan “continues to refuse to accept responsibility for policing London”, then Priti Patel should “legislate to put the Met into special measures and impose change on it herself”, suggests Timothy. “London’s police cannot be allowed to lurch from crisis to crisis. The Met is failing, it needs to be radically reformed, and the only person who can make that happen is the Home Secretary.”

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