Instant Opinion

‘Boris Johnson’s anti-crime plan won’t work because it’s not designed to work’

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

1

Martin Kettle in The Guardian

Crime always pays for the Tories – that’s why they turn to it again and again

on a weak strategy

“What better way to signal a return to supposed political normality than to reprise that old Conservative favourite, a dose of law and order?” writes Martin Kettle in The Guardian. “July’s opinion polls have not been as good for the Tories as those of the spring”, and it seems a “crime crackdown is a way of reassuring the voters that, whatever the appearance otherwise, the government really is in control”. Except, says Kettle, that “actually the government is not exercising control over crime”. He says this week’s package is for show. “To dignify it as a real anti-crime strategy is to miss the point of it, which is rhetorical.” The plan will therefore “not work because it has not been designed to work. It has been designed to be noticed.”

2

James Marriott in The Times

If we want to live we have to suffer and weep

on human pain

“David Pearce, a leading figure in the transhumanist movement that obsesses Silicon Valley’s elites, is an ‘abolitionist’,” writes James Marriott in The Times. That is, he “is an abolitionist with respect to the totality of human suffering,” continues Marriott, and he believes “states of sublime well-being are destined to become the genetically pre-programmed norm of mental health”. While the “scale of Pearce’s ambition” might qualify him as an “eccentric”, he is also “a man very much of his time”, Marriott says. “Witness the behaviour of the 21st century’s affluent classes: their neurotic and elaborate evasion of even small degrees of suffering through therapy, mindfulness, yoga, meditation, esoteric workout routines, wild swimming and (more commonly in America) medication,” he says. “But we must not pathologise the human condition. It is terrible to suffer but suffering is valuable because it broadens our understanding of what life is and what the business of being a human might involve.”

3

Olivia Utley in The Telegraph

Britain is a hostile place to become a mother

on the baby bust

“Whichever way you look at it, 21st century Britain is a hostile environment to become a mother,” writes Olivia Utley in The Telegraph. “Despite the UK being in the grip of a baby bust that has the potential to cripple our economy in the not so distant future, there is a growing cultural hostility to those who want to start families, let alone large ones.” Indeed, “I’ve heard woke young greens with an armageddon complex – who see children primarily as energy guzzlers – argue that bringing them into a world on the brink of collapse is selfish.” Utley concludes: “Having babies isn’t for everyone. And no one should be shamed for wanting to remain childless. But there is power to be found in being a pro-natal society, with the confidence and vision to regenerate and grow.” 

4

Ezra Klein in The New York Times

What if the unvaccinated can’t be persuaded?

on vaccination passports

“It is nearly impossible to convince people of what they don’t want to believe,” writes Ezra Klein in The New York Times. “Decades of work in psychology attest to this truth, as does most everything in our politics and most of our everyday experience,” writes Klein. “Which brings me to the difficult choice we face on coronavirus vaccinations. The conventional wisdom is that there is some argument, yet unmade and perhaps undiscovered, that will change the minds of the roughly 30 per cent of American adults who haven’t gotten at least one dose”. But the truth is: “There probably isn’t.” Indeed, “the Delta strain is fearsome enough, but if we keep permitting the virus to dance across the defenceless, we could soon have a strain that evades vaccines while retaining lethality, or that attacks children with more force.” As a result, says Klein, “I urge those who object to vaccination passports as an unprecedented stricture on liberty to widen their tragic imagination.”

5

Elizabeth Uviebinene in the Financial Times

Make time for the people at the edge of your life

on weak ties

“I bumped into someone recently at a mutual friend’s event,” writes Elizabeth Uviebinene in the Financial Times. “We caught up for 30 minutes and then parted ways. I left feeling invigorated and inspired. During this brief chat we were able to brainstorm and discuss new projects we were working on, which in turn provided much needed sense-making and problem solving”. These friendly acquaintances, with whom we have “weak ties”, serve “many important functions, including promoting a sense of belonging, boosting both happiness and knowledge”, new research suggests. “As we begin to reconnect in person, it is a good moment to make time for casual conversations. The fear of being awkward or embarrassed stops many people from initiating weak ties, but you miss 100 per cent of the shots you don’t take. Besides, what’s the worst that can happen?”

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