Instant Opinion

‘The House of Lords is reaching peak Looney Tunes’

Your digest of analysis from the British and international press

1

Celia Walden in The Telegraph

The House of Lords is beyond wokeification

on vocabulary choices

“Oh, to be a fly on the wall” when the House of Lords reconvenes after Easter, writes Celia Walden in The Telegraph. “The fly would have to be gender-neutral”, though, in line with the Lords’ new Inclusive Language Guide. This stipulates that the traditional “ladies and gentlemen” greeting is to be “condemned to the dustbin of history from now on, with members urged to adopt a form of address that is part Dolly Parton, part Bugs Bunny instead”, says Walden. That is: “folks”. “This is just one of the words and phrases to be woke-dated at one of the most Jurassic institutions in the land,” she writes. Sure, “you can assign a team of woke-terpreters to help members struggling with their new lexicon speak precisely the right brand of gibberish”. But that could be just the start. Next, the benches will have to be “reupholstered in polyurethane; the Peers’ Dining Room menu will have to be vegan. And even when you think we’ve reached peak Looney Tunes, that won’t be all… folks.”

2

James Jeffrey in The Critic

Ethiopia’s sacred tablets must remain in Britain

on looted items

“Ethiopia has long been, and currently undeniably is, an extremely violent country,” writes James Jeffrey in The Critic. Its leaders “have an impeccably consistent track record of sacrificing the welfare and often lives of ordinary Ethiopians for their myopic quest for power” and this “trumps all else in the Ethiopian political psyche”. The civil war that’s been under way for more than a year has been “particularly brutal” and seen the “massacres of civilians”. And “while all that is going on”, says Jeffrey, the House of Lords “is talking about altar tablets” – specifically, 11 tablets that were looted from the nation in the 1868 Maqdala campaign, and are currently housed at the British Museum. “A truce of sorts” has just been agreed between Tigrayan forces and the government. “Suffice to say, the truce is already looking extremely shaky.” The Lords “would do well to remember” the country’s history in its debates on whether to return to tablets or not.

3

Jillian Kay Melchior in The Wall Street Journal

Why Europe welcomes Ukrainian refugees

on ‘disparate treatment’

Europe is facing its biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War. European countries have been “much more welcoming” than in 2015, when the arrival of 1.3 million people mainly from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq “caused political convulsions on the continent”, says Jillian Kay Melchior in The Wall Street Journal. This writer covered that crisis, “and antipathy and cultural concerns don’t fully explain the disparate treatment of these two waves of refugees”. In 2015, some “legitimately feared that terrorists and Islamist radicals would come to Europe”, and “there’s no similar risk with Ukrainians”. And “there’s also a striking demographic contrast between the two waves”, with wives, children and the elderly being welcomed into homes now, compared to the mainly male asylum seekers in 2015. But this new wave “poses its own difficulties for Europe” in the form of “dependency”. But families “yearn to reunite with their loved ones in Ukraine” eventually, giving Europeans “hope that the displacement is temporary”.

4

Elaine Moore in the Financial Times

Musk’s bid will change Twitter even if it fails

on platform improvements

“Elon Musk is the living embodiment of a Twitter feed,” writes Elaine Moore in the Financial Times. The world’s richest man is “a rapid-fire mix of jokes, arguments and ideas”. “Chaos” is part of his appeal, says Moore. “Trying to apply financial norms to his proposed takeover of Twitter is pointless.” Musk has made a bid to buy the company for $43bn (£33bn) and “whatever the outcome, Twitter is going to change”. The social media platform is “underwhelming” and has “failed to keep pace” with Facebook. User growth and advertising revenue are “sluggish”, and that’s partly down to the platform not being seen “as a particularly fun place to be”. Moore says that the global attention Musk’s bid has brought “makes it hard for executives to claim nothing can be improved”. Now, “the way the business is run and the experience of its users are both up for grabs.”

5

Olivia Fletcher in The Independent

A Big Brother reboot could be our last chance to save reality TV

on a rumoured return

“Reality TV is mind numbingly bad these days, isn’t it?” asks Olivia Fletcher in The Independent. Its stars are “barely-sentient beings with more lip filler than personality. Don’t get me wrong,” says Fletcher, many of them seem “nice – which is precisely the problem. I hate nice. I want nasty.” This writer craves “spontaneous meltdowns, outrageous Noughties outfits, shopping sabotages, Chiggy, and Alison Hammond breaking tables”. “Like so many others”, Fletcher is dying for Big Brother to make a comeback. Rumours that the show could return to our screens in 2023 suggest reality TV fans “might be in luck”. No, the show “didn’t get everything right”, but “there was something guttural, something raw, about classic Big Brother that reality TV producers today fail to capture”. Fletcher says: “So I’m watching you, Big Brother. If you get a reboot, please don’t be s***.”

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