Instant Opinion

‘Like Kate and Meghan, Margaret and Elizabeth were reduced to stereotypes’

Your digest of analysis from the British and international press

1

Henry Oliver at UnHerd

Princess Margaret sacrificed herself

on playing the celebrity sister

“Poor old Princess Margaret” died 20 years ago today, writes Henry Oliver at UnHerd. Despite being “trashy and appalling, rude and condescending, and, frankly, low brow” in the eyes of the “public intellectuals” who recorded anecdotes of her escapades in their diaries, “the elites found her irresistible”. Oliver argues that “living off the public purse makes you fair game for voyeuristic bitching” and “many intelligent people think it is acceptable, maybe even clever, to treat you like you’re an animal”. But Margaret “defies” the stereotype of “a selfish, useless celebrity”. She was “a great charity worker”, and there are plenty of stories that make her seem “not just nice but remarkably normal – the opposite of the character drawn by gossipy republicans”. “Like Kate and Meghan”, Margaret and her sister are “presented as stereotyped female opposites: the good wife and the wayward celebrity, the modest Queen and the flagrant Princess”.

2

Gabe Arrington and Justin W. Chandler at The Hill

How space is changing the nature of war

on an important deal

“In January, the Air Force Research Laboratory changed the nature of warfare, and most people missed it,” say Lieutenant Colonels Gabe Arrington and Justin W. Chandler at The Hill. SpaceX was awarded $102m (£75m) to “explore point-to-point rocket cargo technology”, with an aim to deliver cargo or personnel “anywhere in the world within an hour”. The contract between the Vanguard Program and SpaceX “signals a historic revolution in the direction of military strategy”, though “the thought of rocket cargo delivery may seem novel to most”. The significance of the agreement is two-fold, the writers say. It indicates that “the Department of Defense (DOD) is ready to partner with industry at a larger scale with respect to space”, and it “signals the importance of ‘expanded manoeuvre in time and space’ on the future of warfare”, implying a “greater emphasis on strategic deterrence”. The US military “is not alone” in recognising that “the nature of warfare has changed”. China has been investing in similar areas, and has a “capital advantage over the current US marketplace”. The writers say that “as the nature of warfare changes, the relationship between industry and the DOD is now more important than ever”.

3

Tom Peck at The Independent

We now have a ‘minister for Brexit opportunities’ – let that sink in

on a surprise promotion

“What, you may ask, could possibly do more to silence the nation’s incalculable rage about a prime minister breaking the law then lying about it for months on end, than a brand-new made-up job for Jacob Rees-Mogg?” asks Tom Peck at The Independent. Johnson’s mini reshuffle saw Rees-Mogg promoted to minister for Brexit opportunities and government efficiency. “Just pause and drink that in,” says Peck. Two years after the UK officially left the EU, the government has had to “create an actual minister to try and find something – anything – that’s good to say about it”. The promotion “must have come as something of a shock to Rees-Mogg himself”, who back in September 2018 “was out claiming that a no-deal Brexit would be worth £1trn to the British economy, a statement which he would have to disown before he’d even officially made it”. This is the minister who refused “initially at least, to let MPs vote from home”, and who made the “constant and repeated claim that Tory MPs don’t need to wear face masks because they are ‘convivial’ with one another and the virus doesn’t pass between friends”. And “they’ve put that man in charge of ‘government efficiency’”. Operation Save Big Dog “on it goes”.

4

Janet Street-Porter at Mail Online

The politics of protest have been getting uglier for years but this is the first time we’ve had a Prime Minister who would be claimed as the patron saint of morons

on dirty tactics

We live in an “increasingly coarse, brutal world. But has Boris made it more dangerous?” asks Janet Street-Porter. Writing at the Mail Online, she says she believes in the “right to disagree”, but “tagging someone a paedophile-sympathiser when they are innocent […] isn’t a good look”. And neither is “accusing” your parliamentary “rival of turning a blind eye to one of the worst examples of sex abuse this country has ever seen”. Boris thinks he can “lie one day” and “apologise the next, but we know he’s just playing with words”. Street-Porter quotes the husband of MP Jo Cox: “words lead to consequences.” People “watch our leader and think the jokes, the buffoonery at the dispatch box and the gratuitous way he plays fast and loose with the facts mean he's a comedian”. But “crass behaviour […] is more catching than Covid”. With a prime minister “who is happy to turn to scummy tactics”, “why should we be surprised when protesters” follow suit “to get their voices heard”, she asks. And while it’s “tempting” to look to the US “and claim that Trump’s lies and rhetoric” are “infecting us here”, she disagrees: “it’s not true. We infected ourselves.” 

5

The Times View

The main party’s stance on the cost-of-living crisis: Political Emissions

on poor planning

“There is no question that soaring energy costs are a serious political issue,” says The Times. But much debate around the cost-of-living crisis “lacks seriousness”. Tory members of the Net Zero Scrutiny Group are demanding the government cut green levies and embrace further investment in fossil fuels, “effectively delaying the transition to clean energy”. On the other side, the Labour Party is “urging the government to levy a windfall tax on oil and gas companies”, with the aim of using the money to cut energy costs for poorer families. “Both proposals are misguided and likely to prove counterproductive,” says the newspaper. David Cameron’s government decision “to ‘cut the green crap’ by banning onshore wind farms, scrapping zero-carbon requirements on new homes and removing subsidies for home energy efficiency is now costing an extra £2.5bn a year”. The solution is that the current government can’t “repeat past policy mistakes”, and instead “a comprehensive plan to deliver on net-zero targets” is what’s needed. One fit to do the job relies on “vast amounts of investment, which can only come from the private sector”. A “serious plan” would include reforms to tax and benefits too, “but where are the serious politicians willing to confront this challenge?”

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