Instant Opinion

‘Donald Trump won’t face charges for his role in tens of thousands of needless deaths’

Your digest of analysis from the British and international press

Donald Trump at a campaign rally

1

Michael Day on The i news site

Thousands of needless Covid deaths may catch up with leaders like Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro

on a ‘gruesome twosome’

Remember Dr Deborah Birx? She was the US health official who “clearly wanted the ground to swallow her up” when Donald Trump suggested she was going to “test injections of light and toilet cleaner on Covid patients”, writes Michael Day, chief foreign commentator for the i news site. Birx has “now told Congress her former boss’s cynicism and incompetence cost 130,000 American lives”. And over in Brazil, a senate commission in Brazil has called for Trump’s pal, far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, “to face charges ranging from crimes against humanity to charlatanism for ridiculing the seriousness of the pandemic and promoting quack cures”. Day welcomes these “signs that two of the leaders who most disgraced themselves during the pandemic could be held to account”. “If Covid cost Trump the last election, a long, hard look at his failings might cost him in 2024 as well,” he suggests. The US half of “Covid’s gruesome twosome” won’t face charges “for his role in tens of thousands of needless deaths”, and Bolsonaro’s “friendly, handpicked attorney general” is likely to ensure that he doesn’t either. “But many voters – particularly those who’ve lost friends, family and livelihoods to the virus – won’t forget.”

2

Sathnam Sanghera in The Times

When it comes to the workplace, pragmatism is better than passion

on conscientiousness

Watching the young people in your life “become adults” can feel surreal, writes Sathnam Sanghera in The Times. Suddenly “they’re willing to pay for food that you once couldn’t have paid them to eat”, and now “it’s you who calls them to be picked up from train stations”. But the “single strangest thing” is “how they develop sudden interest in seemingly random subjects as they join the workforce”. This, according to Sanghera, is “because modern recruitment demands passion above all else”. Even if you’re “going for a job in logistics and you only just looked up ‘logistics’ in the dictionary”, you have to demonstrate enthusiasm. “I blame Steve Jobs,” says Sanghera. The late Apple chief “remarked in his celebrated 2005 speech at Stanford University” that “the only way to do great work is to love what you do”. Sanghera “made myself unpopular around the time of his passing by saying it was terrible advice”. Despite evidence backing that verdict, “the modern world of recruitment seems to prize ‘passion’ above everything else”. Yet “there is as much, and sometimes much more, to be said for conscientiousness: for coming into work and doing your job, professionally and without complaint”. 

3

Ross Clark in The Daily Telegraph

Cop26 is set to be an appalling display of Western decadence

on ‘the climate change elite’

Is the government’s “principal objective” for next week’s Cop26 summit in Glasgow to “persuade other governments to commit to reaching NetZero by 2050”, wonders Ross Clark. Or is it “to show off Britain to the world as a place to do business, build the prime minister’s personal brand and pull one over on Nicola Sturgeon by presiding over an international event in her own backyard”, Clark asks in The Telegraph. If the former, surely it would have made sense for Cop26 to have been held virtually, he suggests. “When the world has been forced to do business that way for many months anyway”, it seems “deeply perverse not to employ it for this conference of all conferences”. But if Boris Johnson is “more interested in the second set of objectives”, holding the conference in Glasgow “looks like an even worse decision”. Think about the train strikes, the “streets piled with rubbish” and “a desperate shortage of accommodation”, says Clark. “What an image it will send if representatives of indigenous peoples from the Amazon and elsewhere” end up “sleeping rough on Sauchiehall Street while the leaders of the rich world are ensconced in five star hotels”. Of course, he adds, this is the “climate change elite all over – determined to enjoy a privileged lifestyle which it wants to deny to the rest of us”. 

4

Afua Hirsch in The Guardian

Even in our history month, black people are the repeated victims of cancel culture

on Black History Month 

A few days ago, about an hour before Afua Hirsh was due to give “a keynote speech to a large public sector organisation”, the network of black staff who had invited her to talk requested that she “refrain from using controversial or politicised language”. “They were genuinely scared that I would get them into trouble and draw ‘unwanted negative attention to the detriment of our members’” by the use of phrases such as “‘white privilege’, ‘critical race theory’ and – the absolute killer – ‘Black Lives Matter’”, writes Hirsh in The Guardian. “Welcome to Black History Month.” But their fear is “legitimate”, she adds. “Up and down the country, these lone black employees tread a delicate, precarious line.” On the one hand, they want to capitalise on Black History Month “to create conversations that would otherwise be unthinkable”, but on the other, “theirs is an organisation that is run by white people” who then tell the lone black employees “what to say”. Every Black History Month, says Hirsh, “I find that the content of my talks – the erasure of black history, the demand that black people assimilate into whiteness, the fragility of people unused to hearing a black perspective, tone policing – are being performed in real time by the organisers and audience of those talks”.

5

Tom Utley in The Daily Mail

I know few will pity me, but the tax hike on cigarettes has left me fuming (at a cost of £12k a year)

on an unaffordable habit

“Did you notice a truly extraordinary omission from most of the coverage of Wednesday’s budget?” asks Tom Utley in the Daily Mail. In all the “thousands of words” written about Rushi Sunak’s measures, “I’ve seen and heard barely a mention of a blistering tax increase that will affect some seven million Britons – most of them from poorer backgrounds”. Utley is referring to the “staggering rise in tobacco duty”. The price of cigarettes rose by “no less than 88p”, he says, which is “by far the biggest single-day’s rise in my lifetime”. But, he adds, “before I go an inch further, I must declare an interest: throughout my adult life, I’ve been an extremely heavy smoker”. Utley was “so taken aback by that 88p-a-packet increase” that he has “finally plucked up the courage to do the sums and face the truth”. Thanks to Sunak’s tax increase, he will now pay “an extra £803” a year for the pleasure of smoking. “This will take my annual expenditure on cigarettes to – wait for it – £12,410.” Utley concludes that “if anything this side of the grave will succeed in making me kick my revolting habit, this Budget will”.

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