Instant Opinion

‘Hong Kong’s government is still fumbling over Covid-19 rules’

Your digest of analysis from the British and international press

1

Peter Kammerer at the South China Morning Post

Let’s just admit it: Hong Kong’s Covid-19 strategy is a farce

on saving face

“For too long I’ve been paranoid about what I can and can’t do,” says Hong Kong-based columnist Peter Kammerer. Writing in the South China Morning Post, he says he is pessimistic about the government’s new roadmap for relaxing coronavirus restrictions after it has “fumbled and flip-flopped its way through the more than two years of the Covid-19 pandemic”. The forced closures and reopening of gyms, beaches and businesses in Hong Kong has not made sense, argues Kammerer. “The tourism industry is in tatters and perhaps will never recover. So much talent has left for good and can’t be lured back,” he adds. “I suspect at the root of the reluctance, or even refusal, to change tack, is saving face. Admitting that policies are flawed or wrong is not in the Hong Kong government’s psyche.” He concludes that “until there is an acceptance of reality, Hong Kong and its people will continue to suffer”.

2

Daily Mail Comment

Will this Partygate fiasco never end?

on policing politics

“It really is beyond parody,” says the Daily Mail. The “partygate” inquiry has been underway for seven weeks, “and police have now decided they need to conduct face-to-face interviews with ‘key witnesses’. Naturally more officers will be needed for the fiendishly complex task” of finding out “who may have attended cheese and wine parties” during national lockdowns. And with “a knife crime epidemic raging across the capital” and “burglars going about their business with virtual impunity, it’s not as if” the police don’t have “anything better to do”. There’s a “weary predictability” when the police “get involved in politics”. “Pious declarations” are followed by “months of shilly-shallying, millions down the drain – and a thoroughly unsatisfactory conclusion”. Meanwhile, “most of us are past caring”. The public wants “this fiasco to end and for the police to get back to their day job”.

3

George Eaton at The New Statesman

Why the Tories can’t blame the Ukraine war for the living standards crisis

on a ‘persuasive narrative’

“Boris Johnson would never admit it publicly but the war in Ukraine has been a political blessing for his government,” writes George Eaton at The New Statesman. It has “ended speculation over his leadership” and “provided the government with an apparent excuse for the approaching living standards catastrophe”. Ministers have suggested that the “living standards crisis is the result of the war and no one will (or should) complain because their pain is for the good of the Ukrainian people”. And while that “might appear a persuasive narrative”, Eaton continues, “unfortunately for the government, it’s nonsense”. The “dystopian combination of higher prices, lower wages, higher taxes and lower benefits” was facing the UK “long before” war broke out. Through a “rhetorical sleight of hand, the Tories aim to absolve themselves of responsibility” for the crisis. 

4

Michael Deacon at The Telegraph

These PC rules for writers aren’t just chilling… they’re wildly hypocritical

on an apology owed

Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Anne Tyler has suggested “that the fear of cancel culture could restrict a writer’s artistic freedom”, writes Michael Deacon at The Telegraph. And he agrees that Tyler, as an 80-year-old white woman, “would be wise not to” write a novel from the perspective of a black man. “Not so long ago,” Deacon recalls, filmmaker Richard Curtis was “mocked and maligned” for creating characters who were “white and upper-middle class, just like him”. His critics said “he should have included characters who were black and working-class”. Deacon thinks “the progressive Left owes Richard Curtis an apology”, and should in fact “be applauding him”. He was “staying firmly in his lane” when he wrote Notting Hill and About Time. “According to the old rules, he was in the wrong.” But the “new rules” say “he was right”. Deacon says: “Like so many artists throughout history, it seems, he was simply ahead of his time.”

5

Alison Thewliss at The Scotsman

Chancellor Rishi Sunak must tackle Tory cost-of-living crisis or case for Scottish independence will grow

on ‘red tape’ and rising prices

An “unfamiliar path” for Rishi Sunak “is one that steps up to the challenge and delivers real, targeted support to help protect people’s livelihoods and incomes” in the coming months of higher household costs, says Alison Thewliss at The Scotsman. The crisis “has been brewing under successive Tory governments”, writes the SNP Shadow Chancellor, and it “cannot go on”. “No budget statement can be complete without addressing the resident elephant in the room,” she continues: “Brexit”. The “unnecessary red tape and Brexit bureaucracy is piling up”, and this – coupled with the impact on exports, businesses being “out of pocket” and staff shortages – is “a recipe for disaster”. “Every day” that the UK government “fails to use its reserved powers to tackle the cost of living, it is making the case that independence is the only way for Scotland to boost incomes and build a fairer society”, says Thewliss.

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