‘Expect more buck-passing from the government this winter’
Your digest of analysis from the British and international press
Clare Foges in The Times
Don’t bet on a hard winter toppling Boris Johnson
“David Cameron once said half-admiringly of [Boris] Johnson that ‘the thing about the greased piglet is that he manages to slip through other people’s hands where mere mortals fail’ – and in Manchester the piglet was coated head to toe in goose fat,” writes Clare Foges in The Times. Facing hard questions on “supply chains, Brexit, petrol shortages, inflationary pressures, the Northern Ireland protocol – shlooop! – away he slipped”, writes Foges, “lubricated by a lack of shame, a little charm and his rare felicity with the English language”. While Johnson’s opponents may be “consoled by the belief that a reckoning is fast approaching” – and in doing so, resembling “grim-faced peasants in some medieval fantasy drama” looking to “clouds gathering on the horizon” – from the government we should expect “a lot more buck-passing and blame-dodging this winter”, she writes. “Specifically, expect every Brexit-related problem to be reframed as a Brexit dividend.” It might all be “baloney”, says Foges, “but as far as the government is concerned it is baloney that large swathes of the public are buying”.
Jason Stockwood in The Guardian
My message to Newcastle’s Saudi owners: money alone can’t keep football alive
on the cost of a takeover
“As co-owner of Grimsby Town, I know how the football club looms large in people’s imaginations and their sense of civic identity, especially in post-industrial towns and cities,” writes Jason Stockwood in The Guardian. “That’s why it struck me as odd when news of the Saudi-led takeover of [Newcastle United] was met with almost universal delight from the fanbase.” The takeover will “bring vast amounts of money and investment to the north-east, and undoubtedly, the team will be full of even bigger names over the coming years,” writes Stockwood, “but at what cost to the region’s integrity?” And in the wake of the European Super League “debacle”, Newcastle fans only have to look back a few months “to see how international owners really feel about the fans who live in the communities of the clubs”. That is, “they are secondary to global audiences and revenue maximisation”.
Patrick O’Flynn in The Telegraph
No-one should begrudge Boris a brief getaway
on media traditions
“Well you’ll never guess what Boris Johnson has gone and done now. He’s only jetted off for a sunny break in Marbella while the rest of us shiver and jostle for petrol,” writes Patrick O’Flynn in The Telegraph. Can anyone “remind me what I’m supposed to be cross about again?” he asks. Even the Sunday Mirror “seemed to be struggling to whip up any sense of genuine outrage”, he continues. “I am unaware of any prime ministerial foreign holiday in recorded history which has been greeted with enthusiasm,” O’Flynn writes. “Indeed, confected outrage about them has become a media tradition in itself.” But ultimately, the idea that the prime minister should not be able to take time off while there is “a single group that can be identified anywhere in society in some kind of unfortunate plight” is not just “absurd” – “it shows just how febrile public discourse has become”.
Sam Leith in The Spectator
No, the term ‘white privilege’ is not extremist
on the self-evident
Tory MP Jonathan Gullis “last week raised the delightful possibility that the big family of what we might call the terrorism community should be expanded yet further,” writes Sam Leith in The Spectator. The MP for Stoke-on-Trent North declared ‘white privilege’ to be “an extremist term”, writes Leith. “Goodness. Even now I see it: online social studies graduates and right-on corporate HR functionaries hauling on the old orange PJs and trooping glumly into their cells in some British equivalent of Guantanamo Bay,” he continues. But while we all might be tempted to report people to Prevent “just for being a bit annoying” it is not “really the way that elected MPs should be talking”, Leith writes. “‘White privilege’ is no more than a jargonish phrase for something that we know to be true,” he continues. “Far from being an extremist position, this is a point so uncontentious as to be a banality.”
Hamish McRae in The Independent
Solving labour shortages won’t be easy – but we can start by making jobs more attractive in a post-Covid world
on power dynamics
“Labour shortages are everywhere across the developed world,” writes Hamish McRae in The Independent. And while they are “very evident” in the UK, the same thing is happening in the US, France, Germany and several other developed nations. “The disruption from the pandemic has created more demand for some sorts of jobs but cut demand for others,” writes McRae, and in turn is leading to a “transformation of the relationship between workers and employers”. Perhaps the most important change in the way we work “will be one of atmosphere”, he continues. “Put bluntly, if jobs are scarce, employers all too often exploit that and treat people badly. If it is hard to attract people, they have to behave better,” he writes. And as everyone becomes accustomed to the new dynamic, “we will move to a more courteous relationship in the workplace”.