Instant Opinion

‘Shamima Begum is Britain’s problem’

Your digest of analysis from the British and international press

1

Ayesha Hazarika in The Evening Standard

We don’t have to like Shamima Begum or her cynical ‘glow up’, but we must try to understand her

on reluctant mercy

Shamima Begum’s live interview on Good Morning Britain this week “made for uncomfortable viewing”, said Ayesha Hazarika in the Evening Standard. “I was rather taken aback by what can only be described as a ‘glow up’,” wrote Hazarika. “To see Begum go from a hijab-wearing Islamic State bride to looking like a Love Island contestant” was certainly “bizarre” but it “rammed home the point of the interview”. That is, Begum claims to have “renounced IS and wants to come back to her home, Britain”. Whether you “like or probably loathe” Begum is not the issue. “Begum was born, bred and groomed here,” said Hazarika. “She is our problem.” And “instead of making her a culture war cause celebre, wouldn’t it be more humane and productive to make her part of a much needed and urgent solution”. 

2

Laura Freeman in The Times

Instagram wants to monetise your misery

on feeding teenage insecurity 

“A leaked memo from Facebook, which owns Instagram, has revealed that the company is fully aware that its photo-sharing platform makes teenage girls unhappy,” Laura Freeman wrote in The Times. “To which I can only reply: is the Pope (8.3 million followers) a Catholic?” Freeman went on: “Among teenagers who reported suicidal thoughts, 13 per cent of British users and 6 per cent of American users traced the desire to kill themselves to Instagram.” The platform may give the usual “soothing shush-shushes about benefits and risks, giving voice to the marginalised, staying connected” but ultimately: “Instagram’s job is to make money.” “It makes you feel lesser so that you want to spend more. Instagram positively wants you to be miserable. Misery it can monetise. It’s credulous to think it has a duty of care.”

3

Katy Balls in The Guardian

Boris Johnson’s bold reshuffle is a show of strength – and a sign of pressure

on driving reform

The significance of this reshuffle lies in “how bold it was”, Katy Balls wrote in The Guardian. “Despite long-held concerns about party management, Johnson did not shy away from difficult decisions,” she continued. And the purpose of the reshuffle was clear: “to drive reform”. While the prime minister is “often criticised for valuing loyalty over competence, the reshuffle was notable for how it challenged that assertion”, she contended. “Those ministers viewed to be the worst performers – such as Williamson, Jenrick and Raab – were shown the door or demoted.” Balls concluded: “As a result of the reshuffle, Johnson has a team he has confidence in to implement the government’s agenda – but the pressure is on to now show he can deliver.”

4

Judith Woods in The Telegraph

The Faroe Island dolphin slaughter is ‘heritage’ that belongs in the past

on wanton destruction

“The seas round Eysturoy churn red with the blood of 1,428 dolphins slaughtered on the beach and the world is looking on in horror,” Judith Woods said in The Telegraph. The Grindadrap – the hunting of pilot whales, dolphins and other sea mammals – “is a fiercely-defended totem of Faroese culture”. Yet on this occasion, even the islanders themselves have condemned the hunt for its “sheer wanton scale”, wrote Woods. While whale hunters may cry hypocrisy, “claiming the only material difference is that they slaughter their meat outside rather than primly hiding the process behind the walls of an abattoir”, most critics are concerned “far more about species rather than surroundings”. As a major drive to bring tourists to the islands gets under way, the Faroese must face the fact that “nobody wants to visit a place where dolphins and whales are speared and stabbed at the shoreline”.

5

Robert Shrimsley in the Financial Times

Starmer has chosen the New Labour playbook but still lacks a mission

on a central problem

“Keir Starmer is haunted by the ghosts of two former Labour leaders; one who is hated by his party and one who was hated by the country,” Robert Shrimsley declared in the Financial Times. But Starmer’s inner circle is filled with those who once served Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, suggesting he has “recognised power can be won only from the centre-ground, by addressing the concerns of mainstream voters rather than the obsessions of party activists”. His move to the centre, however, can “only take him so far”, Shrimsley wrote. He cannot “rehash 1990s policies; the economic landscape has changed. He must show how his values will be applied to the public’s fears”. And Starmer “talks of a cost of living crisis, of more rights for workers. But these must fit a wider narrative, perhaps of economic security and opportunity in an era of technological change.” Ultimately, “before voters choose a new knight, they must see a new dragon”.

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