Instant Opinion

‘It would be a rich irony if Cummings saved the Queen’s life’

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

1

Steerpike in The Spectator

Did Dom Cummings save the Queen?

on safeguarding the monarch

“For a man who professes to despise the media, Dominic Cummings is certainly adept at courting it,” writes The Spectator’s Steerpike. Preview clips of his interview with the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg tonight reveal a “startling” claim that “Cummings had to stop Boris Johnson on March 18 last year from going to see the Queen in person at the beginning of the Covid pandemic”, writes the columnist. It seems Johnson was “determined” for the weekly meeting to go ahead, forcing Cummings to explain that doing so would be “completely insane” and risk the monarch’s life. Downing Street denies the incident took place and Buckingham Palace has declined to comment but, writes Steerpike, “it would be a rich irony if the most iconoclastic figure to work in No. 10 was to thank for the safeguarding of the British monarchy, that most venerable of stately institutions”.

2

Victoria Richards in The Independent

The school summer holidays are just six weeks of hell for working parents

on a summer nightmare

“Folks, the moment we’ve all been dreading kicks in for some of us today: it’s the school summer holidays... aka six weeks of sheer hell for working parents,” writes Victoria Richards in The Independent. “I won’t miss the all-out tsunami of chaos that is the daily school run, but I am dreading the summer holidays all the same.” That’s because “it’s virtually impossible to make it work and go to work”, she says. Indeed, “I’m far from alone in feeling dread over the end of term: I hear the collective cries of despair echoed through various school and friend-based WhatsApp groups as we wrangle and bid, barter and swap days”, she writes. “What’s the answer?”, Richards asks. “Well, we could make the summer holidays shorter, we could make it four weeks instead of six,” she suggests, “or the government could actually stump up some proper support for parents, for a change.”

3

Janan Ganesh in the Financial Times

To curse social media is to exonerate society

on civic rot

“The idea that social media is the source of vaccine avoidance evokes the bots-caused-Brexit hype of yesteryear,” writes Janan Ganesh in the Financial Times, after US President Joe Biden suggested social media platforms are “killing people” by spreading disinformation. “It is not just hard to stand up,” writes Ganesh, but it also “suggests a political class in gleeful possession of a villain for all seasons”. “No doubt, great torrents of cant and quackery wash through Facebook. But so do facts about vaccine efficacy and dispenser locations that might otherwise elude millions of users,” he writes. And while the “crusade against these apps is hardly groundless”, it has become “a way of dodging the age and depth of civic rot, and not just in the US”. Ganesh concludes: “Facebook is easier to confront than the prospect that mature democracies must live with a permanent mass of essentially unreachable citizens.”

4

Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post

The Olympics haven’t even started, and they already have an asterisk attached

on the Covid Olympics

“The great joy of the Olympics is seeing so many young men and women from all around the globe putting politics aside, competing as equals and forging unlikely friendships based on mutual respect and admiration,” writes Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post. “The Games allow us, if only for a couple of weeks, to celebrate our common humanity and imagine a better world.” But, in the Tokyo Games, “the focus may be not on the quality of competition but on whether organizers can prevent a devastating outbreak of covid-19 in the Olympic Village and a dangerous rise in Japan’s overall infection rate”. Robinson continues: “The Coronavirus Games should have been canceled, but it’s too late for that now... The world will be watching not just to witness the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, but also to learn the daily results of coronavirus testing. And the 2021 Olympics will always bear an asterisk — a symbol reminiscent of the spike-covered virus that sadly may be the star of these Games.”

5

Hugo Rifkind in The Times

Voters won’t forget this disdain for the rules

on fair play

“It’s like the Soviet traffic system. It’s a Zil lane. Just as you once got to dodge the Ladas as a member of the Politburo, so you now get to dodge the interminable Ping Cycle as a member of the British cabinet,” writes Hugo Rifkind in The Times. “Or at least, you did” - that’s before Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak decided they would not be participants in a “pilot scheme” which would have meant they were free from isolation constraints after coming into contact with a Covid-positive Sajid Javid. While “the aesthetics of a prime minister in isolation on Freedom Day are, of course, not super” - because it is “like announcing the end of a war while wearing a gas mask” - this incident, and other recent government scandals, “represent a refusal to be constrained by what all the other mugs still innocently believe are the rules”, writes Rifkind.  “Or, to put it more bluntly, a willingness, wherever possible, to cheat.”

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