Instant Opinion

‘Boris Johnson’s Conservatives will not be chaos-proof for ever’

Your digest of analysis from the British and international press

1

Andy Beckett in The Guardian

In the past, chaos brought down governments. Why not this one?

on Tory turbulence

“Voters punish governments that lose control,” said Andy Beckett in The Guardian. “That has been one of the ruling assumptions of British politics and political commentary since the 1970s.” So why has Boris Johnson, who has “presided over more disruption than any prime minister for decades”, not been “seriously damaged”? One explanation is that “Johnson has made chaos his brand, from his artfully ruffled hair to his deliberately rambling speeches”. However, there are “deeper causes”, Beckett added. “Since at least the 2008 financial crisis, daily life and its wider backdrop have become more disorderly for many people,” so “a degree of turbulence has become the modern condition”. He also argued that there is “a political edge to how Johnson’s chaos is distributed” because the more privileged are “cushioned by state subsidies and tax advantages”. However, he said that Johnson’s Tories “will not be chaos-proof for ever” because “one of the lessons of early 21st-century western politics is that parties can seem impregnable, and then suddenly be in freefall”.

2

James Forsyth in The Times

Michael Gove should empower mayors to help level up

on mayoral means

“Housing, communities and local government is hardly a great office of state,” wrote James Forsyth in The Times, and therefore Michael Gove “might have expected a rather more distinguished berth” in this week’s cabinet reshuffle. However, the “mundane job title” conceals the fact that “Gove is now in charge of one of the government’s biggest short-term problems: what to do about its proposed planning reform”. With “levelling up” becoming the government’s new mission after Brexit, Forsyth suggested that Gove should be “tightly focused on driving economic growth in the regions and devolving power down – such as the ability to vary taxes, including perhaps local VAT rates” – because mayors “not only provide someone who can act as a focal point for the region” but also “understand the needs of voters better”. Gove is at the heart of the prime minister’s plans, he concluded, because “if you can create the conditions for growth in the regions, the other things Johnson wants, such as an improvement in life expectancy and a greater sense of pride in place, will follow”.

3

Andrew Bacevich in the Los Angeles Times

Gen Milley did the wrong thing for honourable reasons. We need new rules for starting nuclear war

on a dangerous precedent

A new book has claimed that in the final weeks of the Trump administration, General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, twice called Beijing offering assurances that the US was not about to launch an attack against China. Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Andrew Bacevich said that what Milley did could “arguably qualify as treasonous”. Given the chaos of the “waning weeks” of Trump’s presidency, the retired army colonel accepts that Milley’s intentions “may have been honourable”, but added that “his actions were categorically wrong and set a dangerous precedent”. Therefore, he calls for a reform of the convention set out at “the dawn of the nuclear era” whereby “Americans have entrusted presidents with the authority to initiate Armageddon on their own”. Bacevich suggested that “Congress should act to curb the president’s authority to employ nuclear weapons, requiring decisions on the use of nuclear weapons to be made collectively rather than by a single individual”.

4

Jemima Lewis in The Telegraph

Parents of daughters cannot be expected to handle the nefarious power of Instagram alone

on corporate wickedness

Jemima Lewis’s daughter is nine, so, she said, she “has roughly two years left before social media begins to blight her life”. Writing in The Telegraph, Lewis admitted that she is “hopelessly ill-equipped to help her through the digital quagmire” and “increasingly resent[s] the expectation that I should”. She added: “This is not my mess. I didn’t make it, and I don’t know how to clear it up.” She searched for “anorexic” on Instagram and found “close ups of corrugated rib-cages and sunken bellies and arms as pale and angular as grasshopper legs”. The haunting images saw “children whittled away into ageless skeletons”, she said. “A warning popped up, offering to direct me towards some helpful resources.” Turning her rage at the tech giants, she argued that “they know the damage they are doing, but they keep on peddling their wares”, describing this as “corporate wickedness on a grand scale, hidden behind soft words. It’s complicated. We’re doing our best. Here are some helpful resources.”

5

Holly Baxter in The Independent

Piers Morgan is coming back to American screens to roast all the rude little madams with liberal views

on hostile hosting

Piers Morgan is “coming to the US of A (again)”, said Holly Baxter in The Independent. “Let’s hope it goes better than that time he tried the same thing with CNN!” Greeting news that Morgan is to broadcast a weekly show on Fox Nation for American audiences and write a column for the New York Post, Baxter recalled that Morgan’s CNN spell ended because of his anti-gun stance, which saw him “positioning himself as a British guy who just knows better than all the silly Americans about what to do with their country”. “It’s an absolute wonder that didn’t work out for him.” Baxter also argued that “the problem for Piers is that he doesn’t quite know who he is in the American landscape”. And, with “Fox News-style experiment GB News already floundering after three months in the UK”, she concluded that it “seems a strange time for Morgan to choose to dedicate his career to that particular brand of British right-leaning populism”.

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