Instant Opinion

‘Test and Trace was a stupidly expensive flop’

Your digest of analysis from the British and international press

1

Robert Taylor for The Telegraph

Someone needs to be held accountable for Test and Trace’s failings

on wasted resources

At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the UK government “grabbed a load of emergency powers, suspended normal procurement protocols and screeched ‘something must be done!’”, says Robert Taylor at The Telegraph. Test and Trace was “a big part of that something”, and theoretically “could have been a game changer”. But it proved to be “a stupidly expensive flop”, according to the public accounts committee’s report on the programme. The issue wasn’t in the testing, but the tracing. “Anyone responsible must be hanging their heads in shame”, writes Taylor. The money spent on consultants’ wages is “particularly galling”, with some being paid more than £1,000 a day. The government “must take the hit for what it got wrong” over the past 18 months, Taylor continues. With “our hard-earned cash” being wasted on such mistakes, “we have a right to ask what on earth’s going on”.

2

Kathleen Parker for The Washington Post

A tragic movie-set death is a lesson in decency – and its opposite

on a lack of decency

Alec Baldwin “is richly deserving of our sympathy”, writes Kathleen Parker at The Washington Post. The fatal shooting of Halyna Hutchins on the set of Rust is “the stuff of nightmares”, the tragic accident the result of “random timing intersecting with human fallibility”, says Parker. The incident “should move anyone to empathy and pause our nation’s default cynicism”, but “in our spiritually hollowed-out world”, “meanness is a virtue”. Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance “may have written his own tragedy” in publicly calling on Twitter’s CEO to reinstate Donald Trump’s account so the world could read his “Alec Baldwin tweets”. The former president has “stayed silent”, but his son has been “hawking T-shirts” emblazoned with the slogan: “Guns don’t kill people, Alec Baldwin kills people.” Vance and Trump’s actions are attacks “on every American who values and strives for decency”, says Parker. “It’s time to stop giving passes to such people.”

3

Caroline Nokes for the i news site

The Gender Pay Gap has widened but it’s important to look past Covid for solutions

on the long fight for pay equality

From homeschooling and childcare to an increase in cases of domestic abuse, “we know the pandemic has been bad for women,” writes Caroline Nokes at the i news site. Now, data from the Office for National Statistics sheds light on how it’s impacted the gender pay gap. “It would be easy to paint a picture that was all doom and gloom”, says the Conservative MP and Chair of Women and Equalities Committee, given that the gap increased from 7% to 7.9% in April 2021. But “what matters” is returning to consistent reporting on the gender pay gap, which was disrupted by the pandemic. Companies must still be required to identify “where changes need to be made”, for example, in a lack of women in more senior roles. “Until the path to the boardroom is as well trodden for female employees as it is for male the pay gap won’t be eliminated,” says Nokes. “There is a long way to go.”

4

Zheng Zeguang for The Guardian

China will honour its climate pledges – look at the changes we have already made

on environmental cooperation

There are fears that the global response to climate change won’t progress “without real participation and greater contribution from China” at Cop26. “This anxiety is unnecessary,” writes Zheng Zeguang at The Guardian. “Anyone who knows China well is sure that my country is serious about reducing carbon emissions and pursuing green development”, says the Chinese ambassador to the UK. “Preserving the environment is written into the guidelines of China’s governing party”, and as such will be “turned into feasible action plans”. It’s by such means that the country “achieved its development miracle” in the past 72 years, says Zeguang. Nations with “a couple of hundred years of industrialisation behind them” should play a bigger part in tackling climate change “instead of pinning the responsibility on China”. There’s “enormous potential” for the UK and China to collaborate on climate efforts, and “all life on Earth” stands to gain from such cooperation.

5

Jess Jones for The Independent

I love clubbing – here’s what would make me less worried about being spiked

on uncertain solutions

Covering a drink to protect yourself from being spiked on a night out is “easy enough”, says Jess Jones at The Independent. But “trying to avoid getting syringed in the middle of a busy club? Good luck.” The writer is conflicted about a petition calling for mandatory searches of club attendees on entry. “Something is better than nothing”, but “no one wants to feel scrutinised at the door.” So what can make people feel safer on nights out, asks Jones. “Depressingly I have to admit I don’t have an answer on this one.” Safety measures should not be at the “bouncers’ discretion”, and reports of violent, racist and misogynistic incidents with door staff means more surveillance “is necessary”. Clubbers must feel confident in “fast police action” too, otherwise “nothing will change”. But there is “one completely failproof” trick, something women “were already doing”, Jones concludes: “looking out for each other”.

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