Instant Opinion

‘How far-right conspiracy theories seduced the left’

Your digest of analysis from the British and international press


George Monbiot in The Guardian

It’s shocking to see so many leftwingers lured to the far right by conspiracy theories

on individualist hippies

“It’s an uncomfortable thing to admit, but in the countercultural movements where my sympathies lie, people are dropping like flies,” writes George Monbiot for The Guardian. Acquaintances are becoming “seriously ill with Covid, after proudly proclaiming the benefits of ‘natural immunity’, denouncing vaccines and refusing to take the precautions that apply to lesser mortals”, he says. Mourning what he sees as anti-vaccine conspiracy theories “travelling smoothly from right to left”, he writes of “hippies who once sought to build communities sharing the memes of extreme individualism”. Granting that “there has long been an overlap between certain new age and far-right ideas”, Monbiot adds that “much of what we are seeing at the moment is new” because “the old boundaries have broken down, and the most unlikely people have become susceptible to rightwing extremism”. He concludes that the trend has been “accelerated by despondency, confusion and betrayal” on top of the Covid pandemic. However, “there’s a temptation to overthink this”, he says: “we should never discount the role of sheer bloody idiocy”.


The New York Post editorial board

Biden’s vacuous platitudes at the UN won’t fix his tattered global image

on blah and blather

“US presidents rarely look to make waves with speeches to the annual United Nations General Assembly,” says a leader in the New York Post, but President Joe Biden’s talk “actually challenged global leaders… to stay awake.” He “lectured” countries to “act together” to prevent pandemics and fight climate change, to meet “the challenges” we face by “looking to the future”. “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,” says the paper’s editorial board, which accuses the Democrat of “empty claims” and of a diplomacy that means US interests “will again take a back seat to whatever the world body’s thugs and corruptocrats prefer”. It concludes that “the worst world leaders surely loved Biden’s blather (if they didn’t nod off), while America’s friends frantically try to figure out how to handle the leadership vacuum in Washington”.


Philip Johnston in The Telegraph

The grim spectre of the 1970s haunts politicians to this day

on eerie discontent 

“The auguries are eerily familiar to anyone who lived through the Seventies,” writes Philip Johnston for The Telegraph. “An energy crisis, rising inflation, price controls, massive indebtedness and complacent ministers insisting that there is nothing to worry about.” Forty years on, he explains, the winter of discontent is “a period that continues to cast a pall over politics”. Johnston says that although “ministers are going out of their way not to sound alarmist”, as in the 1970s, matters are “beyond their control”. Therefore, he argues, this reassurance comes over more as “worrying insouciance”. He concludes that “if Boris Johnson’s famed luck runs out, this winter could be bad, even worse, indeed, than the lockdowns. Now, where did I put those candles?”


Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in The i

As Angela Merkel steps down, her kindness to refugees is in stark contrast to Priti Patel’s lack of compassion

on a crass approach

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown says she will never forget the day in August 2015, when Angela Merkel said: “Wir schaffen das” (“We can do this!”) and allowed over a million displaced people to settle in Germany. “Compare and contrast Merkel with our Home Secretary, Priti Patel, whose own family, like mine, was forced to leave Uganda,” continues The i columnist. “We started over again and remade our lives. Yet when she talks about migrants and asylum seekers it’s like a dragon breathing out fire. There is no compassion, no vision, no plan, only a growing list of strict, impossible regulations.” The Tories now in charge are “feral, unbeholden to international treaties, crass and careless about suffering humans outside these isles”, mourns Alibhai-Brown. “Merkel was the opposite.”


Rupert Hawksley for The Independent

Marcus Rashford is now on the GCSE syllabus – exactly where he belongs

on a class act

“You would have to be very stupid and oddly traditional – obsessed with, say, imperial weights and measures – not to see the benefits of teenagers learning more about Rashford and the ways he has harnessed the media to promote his campaigns on food poverty and free school meals,” writes Rupert Hawksley for The Independent. The columnist says “we should applaud AQA for its willingness to put together an original and creative syllabus” and that he hopes “parents, surely, will have no objections to their sons and daughters learning about a young footballer who has tackled food poverty, promotes reading and cares deeply about fighting racism in the UK?” He also hopes that “we are coming to the end of the era in which reality television stars and ‘celebrities’ are idolised; when being famous is a goal in itself” because “young people now look to those with drive and decency”. Rashford, he concludes, “is at the top of that list and absolutely belongs on the academic syllabus”.


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