‘A confused Conservative Party doesn’t know who they stand for’
Your digest of analysis from the British and international press
Daniel Finkelstein in The Times
Boris Johnson’s Tories have lost their bearings
on a losing game plan
“We are about halfway through the government’s five-year term. It is worth reviewing its political game plan and considering whether it is the right one,” writes Daniel Finkelstein in The Times. “Because currently, I think the government is lost.” The Tories won the last general election “by uniting the Leave vote while the Remain vote fragmented” – but it is a strategy that no longer holds, says Finkelstein. He asks: “how sensible is a polarising strategy, antagonising the ‘metropolitan elite’ (if that doesn’t mean people who live in Westminster, what does it mean?) and concentrating on new seats at the expense of existing areas of strength?” The problem with “trying to replace your old voters with new ones makes it hard for a party to keep its ideological bearings”, says Finkelstein. It is clear that the government is “confused about what it stands for” because it is “confused about who it stands for”. At the next election, Conservatives could find that “their new voters are unimpressed while their existing voters are dismayed”, a combination that “could produce a calamity” for the party.
Allison Pearson in The Telegraph
It’s time we turned off the tap on boring Beergate
on Westminster spectacles
“If aliens land tomorrow in the Lake District, try explaining to them that a country in the middle of a cost of living crisis, with energy prices soaring on the back of a war waged by a possibly terminally ill madman, is obsessing over whether someone cracked a poppadum before or after 9pm,” writes Allison Pearson in The Telegraph. “The aliens would conclude, quite correctly, that there was no intelligent life here.” The columnist continues that the “whole sorry Beergate/Partygate saga has become a protracted game of chess. Completely riveting to the wonks of Westminster who drool over every move. Mind-numbing and repellent to the rest of us.
Esther Walker on the i news site
The Royal Family has become a cult of personality, but can’t we just let the poor Queen rest?
on Royal retirement
“It’s all very well to sing ‘God Save The Queen’, but will someone please give the poor woman permission to retire?”, writes Esther Walker for i news. “She is absolutely done in.” Suffering from lingering mobility problems, she was forced to miss the State Opening of Parliament this week, “which is pretty much her one true job”, continues Walker. “To the British monarch, the State Opening of Parliament is like the Christmas Day service to a vicar – and things must be bad if she has to miss it.” So “why can’t we let her go?” asks Walker. “Because she knows, and everyone around her knows, that this monarchy is now a cult of personality.” She continues: “And what everyone knows about organisations that are led by a cult of personality is that when the personality leaves, it’s like a rocket when the boosters burn out.”
Edward Luce in the Financial Times
The US church and state divide is now dangerously blurry
on a US religious revival
“The meek shall inherit the earth, according to Jesus. ‘Not on our watch,’ insist America’s Christian right.” The gap between political Christianity and the gentle message of the gospels has always been wide, writes Edward Luce in the Financial Times (FT), and in choosing Donald Trump as “the bible belt’s standard bearer in 2016” it “arguably destroyed any remaining link.” And now, the “looming end of America’s right to abortion is the direct result of the three justices Trump put on the Supreme Court,” continues Luce. But there are “plenty more earthly rewards available to the Christian right,” he warns. Its “larger agenda is to roll back the tides of secularism”. He concludes that “almost a quarter of a millennium after America’s distinctly non-pious founding fathers wrote the guidelines for a secular republic, the US is experiencing a religious revival”. And while these “periodic ‘awakenings’ eventually burn themselves out” they “never disappear”. He concludes: “This latest one is still gathering momentum. Its opponents so far lack the means to reverse it.”
Cindy Yu in The Spectator
Even the WHO has turned on China’s zero-Covid strategy
on zero Covid
“Covid infections are finally falling in Shanghai,” writes Cindy Yu in The Spectator. But “instead of regaining their freedom, locals have been hit by tighter lockdown restrictions,” she continues. “Even the World Health Organization, which typically shies away from criticising China, is urging Beijing to rethink its approach”, and stop pursuing its policy of ‘zero Covid’. “But President Xi Jinping is blocking his ears.” It seems that “politics, not science” is now “driving the mind-boggling tightening of Shanghai’s restrictions as infections fall,” says Yu. President Xi “cannot countenance a U-turn and ambitious apparatchiks lower down the rungs are keen to please him”, she continues. “But how long can the government continue to silence its critics?” The “absurdity” of the policy and the unfolding situation in the city has been “unwittingly but perfectly summed up by one angry policeman”, says Yu. “In a confrontation with residents in Shanghai who were refusing to be quarantined, the hazmat-suited copper shouted: ‘Stop asking me why. There is no why.’”