Instant Opinion

‘False narratives about how the NHS is coping are damaging’

Your digest of analysis from the British and international press

1

Rachel Clarke at The Guardian

The claim that the NHS ‘coped’ with Covid is not true – it’s drowning and damaged

on a healthcare crisis

“Is truth the first casualty of pandemics?” asks Rachel Clarke at The Guardian, who “nearly choked in disbelief” in April 2020, when she heard the prime minister make a “deplorable” claim that “at no stage has our NHS been overwhelmed”. At that time, the UK’s death toll had reached the “dizzying number” of 26,771 lives lost to Covid. “The insensitivity of attempting to spin as ‘success’ such manifest horror took my breath away,” continues Clarke, a palliative care doctor. “The truth is, Covid caused a collapse of healthcare as we know it”. The health service was “overwhelmed”, though “it is easy to forget” how bad things were, given “much rewriting of history” has taken place in the past two years, she says. Ending free testing and self-isolation requirements “may be politically convenient for the government”, but “11,000 hospital beds in England remain occupied by patients with Covid”, while staff morale “has never been lower”. Clarke concludes: “false narratives about the NHS ‘coping’ are unhelpful and damaging.”

2

Jane Moore at The Sun

How P&O disgrace was predicted six years ago – but branded ‘racist’

on employment concerns

Jane Moore recalls a “pivotal moment” when she realised that the UK would leave the EU, she writes at The Sun. It was during a TV debate in 2017, when a member of the public made clear that “temporarily imported cheap foreign labour was a valid concern for those (of all nationalities and skin colours) who reside full-time in the UK”. Rather than “sympathise”, most of the panel “preferred to virtue-signal their right-on credentials” by regarding his comments “as racist”, she continues. Moore “thought of this man” this week when reading about the fire and rehire scandal at P&O Ferries. Eight hundred staff were “instantaneously replaced with cheaper overseas staff, many of whom are reportedly living in cheap hotels and, in some cases, tents”. And “a number of politicians are calling the actions” of P&O Ferries “‘disgusting’, but, just like those on that TV panel six years ago, they will never be replaced by imported cheap labour at a moment’s notice”. Those in government “have little understanding of its impact on the lives of ordinary, hard-working people”.

3

Daniel Bird at National World

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: Twitter trolls wrong to call Iran detainee ‘ungrateful’ - the Government failed her

on ‘a little perspective’

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe spent “a total of 2,173 days or more than 52,000 hours in detention through no fault of her own”, writes Daniel Bird at National World. The British-Iranian mother “was robbed of the opportunity to see her child grow up”, a fact that is “utterly heartbreaking”. But “for some, none of that is important”. Instead, what matters “is that she had the temerity to not thank the government for her release”. The hashtags “#ungratefulcow” and “#sendherback” have been trending on Twitter since Zaghari-Ratcliffe said she will not thank the foreign secretary for her release. Nazanin was “failed by successive UK governments and used as a pawn by the cruel and oppressive Iranian regime”. She was “caught in the crossfire of a decades-long diplomatic argument between the UK and Iran”, and “continually told by UK officials that she would be released – and she wasn’t”. Why, asks Bird, “should she be thankful?” No, “she didn’t thank an institution that failed to protect her”, he continues. If you think that’s being ungrateful, “I’d suggest that you take a deep breath and try to gain a little perspective”.

4

Bret Stephens at The New York Times

A new Iran deal leaves us meeker and weaker

on geopolitical arrangements

What President Biden thought the US would get out of a new nuclear deal with Iran a year ago “seemed reasonably clear to the administration”, writes Bret Stephens at The New York Times. “But today we live in a different world”, one “in which Russia and China”, both parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, “are definitely not our well-wishers”, and “Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates wouldn’t answer Joe Biden’s phone calls in the midst of the greatest geopolitical crisis of the 21st century”. And though the deal with Iran “is said to be mostly finalised”, “maybe the administration needs to think about the broader implications of a new deal a little more carefully before it signs on again”. And if the deal goes through, the administration will “stress that ‘all options are on the table’ should Iran choose to go for a bomb” – “except nobody in the region seems to believe that line or any other security assurances – hence the phone call snub”. “The principal geopolitical challenge the United States faces today is the perception […] that we are weak – diffident, distracted and divided”, Stephens says. “The Biden administration urgently needs to telegraph strength.”

5

Matthew Day at The Telegraph

Why Poland deserves to win the Nobel Peace Prize

on accommodating refugees

“It is almost impossible to convey the extraordinary way Poles have risen up to welcome the hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees streaming into their country every week,” writes Matthew Day at The Telegraph. “The response has been largely bottom-up”, with friends and neighbours taking “responsibility to help those fleeing war”. “There is one simple, symbolic way the rest of the world could show its gratitude and admiration: awarding the Polish nation the Nobel Peace Prize”. It would be “difficult to think of a more deserving recipient in the world today – and I say that as a foreign correspondent who has written countless articles over the years shining a spotlight on the many ways in which this country is far from perfect”, Day continues. Poland’s actions have “restored some faith in humanity”. But “for some, this will not be enough”. People will note that that refugees from Belarus were shown “no kindness” last year, when “their way was blocked by barbed wire”. But “this situation is different”, says Day. The Ukrainians’ situation “has struck a powerful historical nerve among Poles”.

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