Instant Opinion

‘Centrism is back with a fresh coat of paint’

Your digest of analysis from the British and international press

1

Ryan Coogan for The Independent

Centrism is the great enemy of the working class

on a political placebo

“Centrism – an ideology that should have been crushed under the weight of its own ineptitude during the disastrous coalition years – is back with a fresh coat of paint,” writes Ryan Coogan, “and the same do-nothing attitude that made it the darling of people who don’t want to admit to being right wing”. Writing for The Independent, he argues that “today, the mainstream political discourse has moved so far towards Conservatism that today’s centre is yesterday’s right”. Having grown up on council estates, Coogan writes that “the real evil of so-called moderation is that the working class is suffering now, and has been for a long time” and that “it can’t wait much longer for positive change”. He describes centrism as “a placebo that requires nothing of us, and for which we receive nothing in return… change, on the other hand, is difficult, but also rewarding – and, ultimately, necessary”.

2

Senay Boztas for Unherd

Why Rotterdam erupted

on complex ashes

“Dutch leaders were quick to paint the riots as acts of hooliganism rather than protest,” says Senay Boztas, a Brit who lives in the Netherlands, after the recent anti-lockdown unrest in Rotterdam. But she argues that this is “overly simplistic”. “This isn’t some new phenomenon: the Dutch police have been highlighting the increasing violence of protesters for several years,” she writes for Unherd. Behind the resentment of rioters are bigger social problems. There is “a deep polarisation in Dutch society” and trust in government policy and leadership has “plummeted”. Meanwhile, she explains, a “light-touch legal system and emphasis on alternatives to prison and processes like mediation” could also be a factor in the unrest. She concludes that “this isn’t a time to sit back and dismiss the rioting as an ‘orgy’ of criminal activity” but it is “time to sift through the ashes”.

3

Clare Foges for The Times

More fool countries that normalise drug use

on ‘Big Weed’

Noting moves towards the legalisation of cannabis in Europe and the US, Clare Foges said she learned of them “with dread” because the West’s “steady progress towards cannabis legalisation” is a “slow-motion car crash”. She writes that “weed’s association with amiable stoners” masks the fact that the concentration of the main psychoactive component has become about five times higher over the past 15 years and is “devastating lives”. The Times columnist writes of “families who have watched as a once-vibrant son or daughter descends into the hell of severe mental illness, paranoia keeping them a prisoner in their bedroom”, and doctors “who dealt with a record 100,000 drug-related admissions last year”. She said that although “Big Weed” is seen as a progressive campaign, a “truly progressive policy would be to enforce the laws we already have, to help prevent more people from falling victim to this nasty drug”.

4

Lucy Burton for The Telegraph

You cannot preach about going green from the luxury of your private jet

on high-profile hypocrisy

“The corporate elite’s green preaching is currently being drowned out by the roar of their private jets,” argues Lucy Burton for The Telegraph. The paper’s banking editor reminds us that “hundreds of wealthy leaders recently flew into Glasgow for the Cop26 climate change conference in private jets and have continued to fly privately since”. Small jets emit ten times more greenhouse gases per passenger than scheduled flights and are 50 times more polluting than trains, she tells readers. Burton says that however convenient private jets are, “high-profile business executives who have become newly hooked on flying this way, or are used to it having done so all their careers, must wean themselves off” because “boasting about going green while jetting around in a private plane is not a good look as the planet burns”.

5

Tim Dowling for The Guardian

We are way past peak puppy – it’s time to end the great British dog obsession

on mutt madness

“When people ask me if I’m a dog lover I always say, ‘I’m a dog owner – it’s not the same thing’,” writes Tim Dowling in The Guardian, adding that he does not “wish to be mistaken for some kind of enthusiast”. With more than three million new pets acquired in the UK during the Covid crisis, many of them dogs, Dowling believes our obsession with dogs has got out of hand. He argues that the Dog TV channel and the DogPhone that allows your pet to call you are “completely barking”. He adds that: “I can’t really imagine what it would be like to have your phone go off in a meeting and then say: ‘Sorry, I need to take this; it’s from my dog.’” As unwanted dogs are handed over to the Dogs Trust, Dowling says that “as much as it’s worth reminding people that a dog isn’t just for Covid, I can’t help hoping that the fading of the pandemic will bring a stop to all the madness”.

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