Instant Opinion

‘There is a way out of the cost of living crisis for Boris Johnson’

Your digest of analysis from the British and international press

1

James Forsyth in The Times

PM has a lever to ease cost of living crisis

on helping shoppers

“Inflation is heading to its highest level for a generation, taxes will soon be rising, an energy crisis is growing and a lot of people are going to end this year worse off than when they started it,” writes James Forsyth in The Times. The Spectator’s political editor says that this “recipe for trouble” is the “main source of conversation among ministers and MPs”. When the energy price cap is reviewed next month, Whitehall is “braced for it to almost double, meaning that bills will rocket from April”, the same month that national insurance goes up for employers and employees. With the cabinet anxious for tax cuts, there is a way out, Forsyth suggests. The UK could “scrap tariffs on all imports bar certain sensitive agricultural goods” to lower prices for consumers. “Abolishing tariffs on what consumers buy would help shoppers” as well as making the UK’s domestic market “more competitive”. And as this move is only possible because the UK has left the EU, it would “come across as a Brexit dividend”. It is important that Boris Johnson “shows he is pulling what levers he can”. And “tariff reform would be a good place to start”.

2

Gaby Hinsliff in The Guardian

A hard lesson for Novak Djokovic: patience with vaccine sceptics is wearing thin

on a team effort

“There is an undeniably ugly undercurrent” to some hostility towards the unvaccinated, who “are disproportionately likely to be poor, marginalised and from minority-ethnic backgrounds”, writes Gaby Hinsliff in The Guardian. “Punishing people who often have deep-seated reasons not to trust the authorities for failing to get their jabs not only risks heaping discrimination upon discrimination, but represents a profound failure to understand why they didn’t want to comply in the first place.” But in the case of Novak Djokovic, who is currently detained in Australia, “there’s nothing obviously marginalised about a millionaire sportsman arrogantly demanding the right to jet into a country suffering record infection rates in the hope of lifting yet another lucrative trophy”. Djokovic is a “believer in ‘natural’ healing who once suggested that polluted water could be cleansed by the power of positive thinking”, she adds. While acknowledging that “he’s entitled to hold whatever wacky beliefs he likes”, he “doesn’t have a God-given right to escape the professional consequences of them, and still less does he have the right to impose consequences on others”. Unlike tennis, fighting a pandemic is a “team effort”, she says.

3

Madeleine Grant in The Telegraph

Is Jacob Rees-Mogg the new Microsoft Clippy?

on a retro reminder

Do you remember Clippy, the “anthropomorphic cartoon paperclip who haunted old versions of Microsoft Word”? asks Madeleine Grant in The Telegraph. “Time and again, Clippy would pop up, offering advice on even the most pathetically simple tasks,” she adds. So what’s the link with Jacob Rees-Mogg? Describing the Tory leader of the House as a “wind-up merchant extraordinaire”, Grant argues that he “demonstrated a Clippy-style, smiley persistence and a hint of the virtual PA’s goggle-eyed quality” as he diverted exchanges during business questions yesterday. The tactic left his opposite number, Thangam Debbonaire, looking like a 1990s Microsoft user, “desperate to disable the irritating office assistant – but to no avail”. Rees-Mogg “conducted hostilities furtively, under a Sir Humphry-ish veneer of mandarin politeness”. He prompted so many cries of “shame” from the SNP benches that “one feared at least a devaluation of the currency, if not a full-scale run on the shame pound”. Eventually, Rees-Mogg retired, “flashing the faintest hint of a smirk… a seasoned troll who knows he has hit his target”. 

4

Stuart Ritchie on Unherd

Johann Hari’s stolen ideas

on the return of a plagiarist

“What do you get if you repeatedly plagiarise other people’s work, allegedly fabricate quotes, and spend hours of your life editing the Wikipedia pages of your rivals under an assumed name to make them look bad?” asks Stuart Ritchie on UnHerd. “Three massive book deals!” Turning his pen on journalist Johann Hari, whose latest book was published this week, Ritchie writes that despite praise from Hillary Clinton and Russell Brand, “the books are not, in fact, that good”. The psychologist and lecturer in the Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre at King’s College London argues that in Hari’s book about addiction, Chasing the Scream, the author “seemed to be misconstruing what his interviewees said”. He adds that Hari’s third book, Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention, is “not much better”, adding that Hari “exhibits no talent for assessing evidence” and eventually, on page 176, admits that “there isn’t really any strong scientific evidence for the main thesis of the book”. Despite Hari’s apology for past misdeeds, he remains “a writer who’s shown himself again and again to be either untrustworthy, unoriginal, or uninformed”.

5

New York Post editorial board

Democrats abuse Jan. 6 anniversary to push their own cynical power grab

on deepening divides

“Democrats from President Joe Biden on down spent the first anniversary of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot exposing themselves as cynical frauds,” according to the New York Post editorial board. Vice President Kamala Harris “put the outrage on a par with Pearl Harbor and 9/11 – truly historic hinges of history that saw thousands of Americans killed in acts of war”. Joe Biden was “nearly as bad”, the paper adds, as he invoked “what our country fought for at Lexington and Concord, at Gettysburg and Omaha Beach, Seneca Falls, Selma, Alabama”. Describing the Democrats’ voting rights bill as a measure that “simply aims to (unconstitutionally!) federalize election law in ways Democrats believe would favor them”, the tabloid accuses Democrats of a “cynical power grab”. “The answer to [Donald] Trump’s big lie is not to tell lies of your own,” it adds. “Once again, Biden merely deepened the national divide he claims he wants to heal.”

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