Instant Opinion

‘Climate deniers are on the back foot but there is still no clear message’

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

1

Gaby Hinsliff for The Guardian

Johnson’s muddle over Covid is a foretaste of his thinking on climate change. Be afraid

on needing clear guidance

“First came the plague, then the flood, and now the fire,” writes Gaby Hinsliff in The Guardian. This summer has been “biblical”, full of horror stories of flash flooding, wildfires and “a Canadian heatwave so fierce it cooked mussels in their shells on the beach”. So, with the upcoming Cop26 climate change summit in Glasgow, “why not seize the moment?” she asks. Climate deniers “are on the back foot” and change “really is now unavoidable”. But, “puzzlingly”, all that new climate spokesperson Allegra Stratton had to offer in an interview last week “was tips on freezing bread rather than letting it go stale and not rinsing plates before putting them in the dishwasher”. Just when clarity is most needed, “what we get is two contradictory messages fighting for a confused public’s attention”, writes Hinsliff. “One that this is a global emergency demanding we move further and faster to net zero, and the other that we’ve got all the time in the world to play around with baby steps like freezing your leftovers.”

2

Jan Moir for the Daily Mail

Sport stars who sulk like surly barbarians over a silver medal shame us all

on sore losers

Just competing in Tokyo makes every Olympic athlete a winner, says Jan Moir in the Daily Mail. Like many people over the last few weeks Moir has felt “pride and awe at the achievements of our sporting talents”. But she has also experienced “a new and thorny emotion blooming within the bouquet of good wishes and congratulations” and that emotion is shame. “I am ashamed at the way some of our sports stars… behave when they don't come top,” she says. Instead of being “gracious in defeat”, they “act like surly barbarians”. “Perhaps all these men – and they are mostly men – think that being facetious about coming second makes them look like big guys,” Moir says, “guys who think you either go big (medal-wise) or you go home, and that nothing matters except winning”. Sadly “this attitude makes them look more like truculent losers than admirable victors”. “Be a Roger, not a Novak. Be a Katarina [Johnson-Thompson], not a whiner.”

3

Joanna Moorhead for The Telegraph

Offer children a vaccine to give them a life

on having confidence in the vaccine

Why stop vaccinations at the age of 17, asks Joanna Moorhead in The Telegraph. That was the advice she “couldn’t help asking” when she heard that vaccines were being rolled out to older teenagers. “Across the country there are surely thousands, if not millions, of children – supported by their parents – who believe wholeheartedly in having the jab.” When Moorhead’s elder children were born in the 1990s it was against the backdrop of a “major debate over whether it was or wasn’t a good idea to give them the MMR”. The claim that the jab could lead to autism “caused a huge amount of heartache and controversy” before being debunked. “Vaccination isn’t just about your child, it’s about all children – all people, in fact,” says Moorhead. “While your own toddler might not be at much risk, and while you might worry about side-effects (which proved to be almost non-existent), you owe it to others… to get it done.” Yes, the risk to teenagers from Covid “may indeed, and happily, be remote” and “no, nothing (including the whole of life itself) is entirely risk-free”. But the Pfizer/BioNTech jab has now been licensed for this age group “which means we should have confidence in it”. 

4

Emma Duncan for The Times

The education arms race is out of control

on the rise of the ‘knowledge economy’

“Private education is increasingly contentious,” writes Emma Duncan in The Times. “Finally the government has decided to take action” but not our government – China’s government. Last week, the Chinese Communist Party announced “that it would outlaw profit-making and foreign investment in most of education”, wiping “billions off the value of companies in the fast-growing tutoring business”. But this trend “is shaping the lives of British children just as much as Chinese ones”, says Duncan. The rise of the “knowledge economy”, combined with globalisation, “means that young people are competing for top jobs not just with those in the next street but also with those on the other side of the world”. The weapons in the education arms race “are educational qualifications… and the crests of impressive universities stamped upon them”. “The result is that private education is booming all over the world” and “tuition has taken off in Britain too”, writes Duncan. “As the Chinese government recognises, there are costs to the education arms race. It impoverishes parents [and] puts an unreasonable strain on young people”. It also “undermines the quality of education” and “it makes society less fair, because instead of equalising opportunity, education increasingly does the opposite”.

5

Suzi Ruffell for The Independent

We had planned the perfect wedding – and then one day in Sainsbury’s we made a big decision

on tying the knot, pandemic-style

Suzi Ruffell and her partner Alice were “one of the 260,000 couples that had to postpone their wedding due to the pandemic”, she writes in The Independent. “The big day was to be in May 2020. Of course, we cancelled it in April and all of a sudden our dream wedding and honeymoon… slipped down the drain”. Like “everyone else”, their lives “were thrown into flux by Covid”. They spent “months” working out a plan; “reorganising the wedding, doing a smaller version [and] cutting 170 guests down to 30” which would have led to “a number of awkward phone calls”. Then, when walking around Sainsbury’s a year later, they “finally made a decision”. Ruffell and Alice married at their local town hall where they “stood for the briefest of services” with just two close friends, masked up. “Yes, I would have loved a big do and to have achy legs for days but all I really cared about was becoming [Alice’s] wife”, says Ruffell. “So that’s what we did.”

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