Instant Opinion

‘Kirstie Allsopp telling young people off won’t help them get on the property ladder’

Your digest of analysis from the British and international press

1

Matthew Lynn at The Spectator

Kirstie Allsopp is wrong about house prices

on unhelpful advice

TV presenter Kirstie Allsopp “probably always knew she was going to stir things up with her comments this weekend”, says Matthew Lynn at The Spectator. The thrust of what she told The Sunday Times was that “if young people simply cut back on some self-indulgent luxuries, and explore some alternative areas to live, they would be able to get on the property ladder in their twenties just the way she did”. Allsopp “is wrong on economics”. “Cutting back on avocados and cancelling Netflix won’t help” because “the British housing market is completely dysfunctional”. When Allsopp bought her first flat, “the average home cost about five times her then salary”. Now, the average home costs around “nine times the average salary”. Since the 1980s, “decades of planning restrictions have meant that we have not built nearly enough homes”, and demand for properties “has massively increased”. And “a decade of flat interest rates has inflated every form of asset market, sending prices through the roof”. Yes, “twenty-somethings are annoying for the fifty-somethings such as Allsopp”, but “they have a genuine beef about the state of the British housing market”. “Telling them off is not going to help anyone,” says Lynn. 

2

The Telegraph View

The No. 10 clearout gives us a chance to move on

on changing tack

Boris Johnson’s “clean-out began chaotically”, says The Telegraph. But Steve Barclay’s appointment as the new chief of staff “holds out hope for the return of two much needed qualities” in No. 10: “organisational discipline and Tory values”. The two “are connected”. “A chaotic government cut adrift from the parliamentary party […] is more likely to be prey to Civil Service orthodoxy.” And “it is no coincidence that just as Mr Johnson seemed to lose control of the narrative, policy also took a sharp turn to the Left”. Policymakers have “trapped” themselves “in a series of highly destructive propositions […] without appreciating what this means to the people ministers are elected to serve”. Sometimes, MPs “know better”, the newspaper continues. Johnson’s supporters “insist that he has a right to wait” for the final police report into Partygate. “Hopefully Mr Barclay represents a return to the direction of centre-Right,” because “the only hope this Government has of regaining momentum is to return to the side of the taxpayer, the consumer, to all the voters who wish to move on from Covid and prosper”.

3

Geoff Shullenberger at UnHerd

Were masks a waste of time?

on politically motivated mandates

Last year, “as the Delta wave was upending hopes that widespread vaccination would end the pandemic”, some states and cities in the US re-introduced mask mandates while a few others “notably New York” opted not to, says Geoff Shullenberger at Unherd. “The policy divergence created an opportunity to examine the impact of mask mandates”, but “neither the public health experts nor any of the major media outlets took up this opportunity”. Instead “a few sceptical observers drilled into the data”, and “the most prolific was Ian Miller”, says Shullenberger. In his “copious data-driven commentary” over the past two years, Miller has “arrived time and again at the same conclusion: that the ad hoc pandemic mitigation policies rolled out since 2020 have systematically failed to achieve goals”. And while it’s easy to see “why mask mandates proved irresistible to politicians”, the “scientific and medical establishment’s uncritical support of masks and other dubious policies is just the latest manifestation of its lack of independence from political imperatives”.

4

John Naughton at The Guardian

For the first time in its history, Facebook is in decline. Has the tech giant begun to crumble?

on stalling success

Facebook made headlines last week, “although you may not realise that because it has been renamed Meta in the hope the bad vibes associated with its maiden name would gradually fade from public memory”, says John Naughton at The Guardian. The news “had nothing to do with scandals and everything to do with its financial results, which were so unexpectedly bad that the shares dropped 25% at one point, taking $240bn (£177bn) off its market value”. One of the factors Zuckerberg reportedly pointed to when speaking with stock market analysts was the rise of TikTok. The platform has been keeping Zuckerberg “awake at night” because it “caters brilliantly to a demographic group… that Facebook” just “doesn’t seem to serve well any more”. From the beginning, growing the platform’s user numbers has been Zuckerberg’s “overriding obsession”, but “network effects work both ways”. If numbers decline, “the virtuous circle suddenly turns vicious, leading to a downward cycle”. Zuckerberg knows “his position as master of the current universe may be transitory”, says Naughton, “which may explain why he plans to be master of the coming metaverse”.

5

Ben Doherty at The Scotsman

Businesses and employees face a balancing act as the return to office work begins

on working arrangements

Ben Doherty “firmly” believes that the majority of workers in Scotland who are being asked to go back into the office “will adapt quickly and cope well”. But “as we evolve”, the employment lawyer writes for The Scotsman, we must keep in mind that many of us “have rebuilt personal and professional routines to strike the best balance” over the past two years. The prospect of “redrawing arrangements” will “doubtless feel like a drag to some”, but working from home “is not without its challenges” either. So whether you “are anxious about a partial return to the office” or “itching to get back”, “there are lots of things for us and our employers to consider”. The legal picture is comparatively “straightforward”. Employees can request flexible working arrangements, and though business needs will be “the driving factor” behind any decision, “a less flexible approach” may see employee retention dip. The situation presents “a delicate balancing act”, and Doherty advises anyone managing a return to work to “be fair”.

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