Instant Opinion

‘Don’t be surprised if there’s a backlash against the unvaccinated’

Your digest of analysis from the British and international press


Gaby Hinsliff in The Guardian

If further Covid restrictions are needed, the debate could get uglier this time

On a brewing backlash

“Time and time again, Britons have proved more willing to put up with drastic constraints on their lives than anyone could have imagined,” writes Gaby Hinsliff, “but if more painful restrictions were needed this winter, there are reasons to think it would be an uglier argument this time round.” Before the vaccine “millions were genuinely afraid either of dying from Covid, or inadvertently killing those we loved,” she recalls, but the jab “has made us bolder” so “this time, a government trying to shut down pubs, restaurants or socialising” would “face anger from those who were repeatedly told that vaccination would set them free”, predicts the Guardian columnist. Also, if new restrictions prove necessary, “don’t be surprised if there is a backlash against the idea that vaccinated and unvaccinated people should all be in it together”, she adds, “especially if the Treasury proves reluctant to offer the kind of generous support that cushioned the pain of past lockdowns”.


Eugene Robinson for the Washington Post

The unnecessary deaths in Oxford remind us: School shootings cannot be the price of ‘freedom’

On a callous shrug

Eugene Robinson writes of the teenage victims of the Michigan school shooting and notes that “they are all dead, killed this week in the latest of the school shootings our society accepts as routine”. Writing for The Washington Post, she says American society’s message to four families “suffering unimaginable grief, to the hundreds of other students who are traumatized for life, to a community that will never be the same” is one word: “Tough.” He says they are told “unlucky you” and “too bad about your loss, but that’s the price of freedom”. Writing of the killer, he says “there are kids like that in high schools around the world” but “only in the United States do we enable them to express their teenage angst by bringing guns to school and opening fire on the students, teachers and administrators they see as their tormentors”. The columnist insists that Americans “cannot be so callous that we see four promising young lives snuffed out and simply shrug in mute acceptance” and calls for them to “scream at the top of our lungs: Guns are not making us safe. They are killing us, and they are killing our children.”


James Forsyth in The Times

Tories can’t afford to lose the war on crime

On a weak spot  

Dealing with crime is a “political necessity for the Tories”, believes James Forsyth, because “whenever Labour outflanks them on the issue, as Tony Blair did, the Conservatives are in trouble”. Therefore, ministers are “desperate for visible progress” before the next general election, because of its link to levelling up. There is growing concern in Tory circles that there will be “scant evidence of regional inequalities having been corrected before the election”, the political editor of The Spectator argues in The Times, but crime could give ministers an opportunity to address this. “Ultimately this government needs to show that it can improve public services, as well as spending more money on them, and create visible progress on levelling up,” Forsyth writes. “Crime offers it an opportunity to do both of those things. The question is, can it deliver?”


Ben Sixsmith in The Spectator

Jimmy Carr’s anti-vaxxer joke isn’t funny

On a comedic shift

“Jimmy Carr was once the smug face of shock comedy,” says Ben Sixsmith. However, writing for The Spectator, Sixsmith argues that the stand-up comic has changed. He notes Carr’s gag about anti-vaxxers: “Who’s not going to take the vaccine because they think it might be dangerous? Raise your hand… Now take that hand and slap yourself in the f**king face.” Sixsmith feels the joke is “simply not funny” and a sign of “a shift in comedy: some audiences now seek something other than just laughter” because “comedic affirmation on the grounds of a person’s intelligence and righteousness is the aim”. He acknowledges that “comedians can express opinions” but adds that “for a stand-up comic being funny should come first”. Is it “too cynical” to wonder if comedians who had a reputation for being “shocking” are now “keen to offer up their more righteous opinions as a means of securing their careers in a more politically correct cultural climate?”


Jess Phillips for The Independent

Matt Hancock’s mate ended up with a Covid contract. Did any of yours?

On the comeback kid

Matt Hancock has been on his “comeback tour” this week, writes Jess Phillips, because “he has clearly decided that five months is about the amount of time it takes for people to be ready to once again love a man who broke his own public health laws in order to cheat on his wife”. The trouble is, continues the Labour MP, “his presence serves as a reminder of what happened 18 months ago, when the government appears to have been pretty generous to their associates with contracts for ventilators, PPE and testing equipment”. She argues that the former health secretary should not be allowed to “simply emerge on television in order to brown nose his way back to favour without expecting people to want answers about his time in office”. She writes that he “obviously denies any wrongdoing that hasn’t been captured on CCTV”, adding: “It just leaves me wondering why none of my mates ended up with Covid contracts. Matt’s did. Did any of yours?”


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