Instant Opinion

‘Boris Johnson’s imperial units piffle is a dumbshow’

Your digest of analysis from the British and international press

1

James Vincent in The Guardian

Boris Johnson’s move to bring back imperial units is pure piffle – and simply unfathomable

on weighing up

“From a political perspective,” James Vincent thinks it is “an odd choice” for Boris Johnson to start “a fight between metric and imperial units of measurement”. It’s “obviously pure piffle”, the author and journalist writes in The Guardian, “a dumbshow designed to placate (or at least entertain) the conservative base while distracting and antagonising rivals”. But “knowingly or not”, the prime minister has “tapped in to a long and wild history” that “encompasses xenophobia, pseudoscience and fears over lost political sovereignty”. The metric system is “entwined” with the end of the French monarchy and “anti-metric campaigners” highlighted that the units were “the product of atheist revolutionaries and – worst of all – foreign”. Yes, “there are obvious reasons to cherish and respect imperial units of measure”, but “touting” their so-called “‘return’” is “just disastrously retrograde”. By stoking the debate, the Conservatives have “certainly keyed in to an emotive and overlooked aspect of our history”.

2

HRH Princess Eugenie in The Spectator

I hope my son will inherit the Queen’s kindness

on a royal role model

The UK is celebrating a “magnificent woman” this year, writes Princess Eugenie in The Spectator. The Queen is “an incomparable monarch”, and this writer is “a very proud granddaughter”. During the 2012 Jubilee celebrations, Eugenie recalls the Thames regatta, and, specifically, “seeing my grannie and grandpa standing for eight hours in the rain, waving and smiling, and keeping the family and the nation moving forward like they had done for so many years”. The Princess says: “Seventy years is really quite something, isn’t it?” This weekend’s celebrations are “a testimony to a woman who has transcended time” and “been a rock for so many”. Eugenie says she would “love” her son, August, to have her grandmother’s “patience, her calmness, her kindness, while always being able to laugh at himself and keep a twinkle in his eye”.

3

Annette Dittert in The New Statesman

Criticising the government isn’t journalistic bias – it goes with the job

on an implication of impartiality

“With every passing day”, Johnson’s government “chips away further at Britain’s democratic foundations while much of the media, rather than calling foul, goes along with the game”, writes Annette Dittert in The New Statesman. In doing so, the media “thus normalises – consciously or not – the gradual erosion of fundamental ethical and constitutional norms in the UK”. Dittert says “all hell broke loose” when she expressed this view on Twitter. She was accused of being biased, and told that she had “failed to maintain the necessary ‘impartiality’” of a correspondent for a public-service broadcaster in Germany. This criticism comes down to the idea “that publicly funded outlets should not be able to directly criticise the government – when, of course, the complete opposite is the case”. Dittert says “a mendacious prime minister, of course, is an existential threat not only to its country, but also to its journalism.” In those cases, an outsider’s view “might even be helpful”.

4

Julie Cook in the Metro

Looks fade, sex dwindles – laughter is the most important thing in any marriage

on getting the giggles

Julie Cook let out a scream “when a creature in an electric-blue wig” crashed into her bedroom the other day, she writes at Metro. First she thought it was “a rabid killer clown”, before realising it was her husband, “beneath the blue wig, giggling like a lunatic on the floor”. “He’d wanted to come up the stairs in it – it’s one of my daughter’s dress-up wigs – on his knees and pretend to be her. Instead, he’d tripped on the final stair and had come careering in through the door, ending up in a heap on the carpet.” Cook says: “I laughed so hard I thought I’d cracked a rib”. Her husband makes her laugh “at least once a day”, she continues – “I don’t mean a polite smile or a giggle. I mean properly laugh until my tummy aches.” This writer says she rarely sees some other couples do the same. “They seem to tolerate each other if anything.” When couples start dating, “looks and sex are often the top two priorities”. Things may have changed for her and her husband over time, but humour has “remained a constant”. A sense of humour “is forever”.

5

Aidan Yao in The South China Morning Post

Fears that China has become ‘uninvestible’ are overblown – it is not Russia

on market movements

“A confluence of adverse forces has made investing in China challenging in the past 15 months,” writes Aidan Yao in The South China Morning Post. “Confidence has depleted, so much so that some investors have started to question the investment potential” of China’s markets. The Chinese market is “in a difficult spot, plagued by the pandemic, property market woes and high energy prices” – but it is “questionable” how long those factors will last, and if “they will inflict damages on China’s long-term growth outlook”. Regulatory and policy uncertainty appears to Yao as “the dominant source of investors’ angst”, and “fortunately”, policymakers have “started to grasp the issue”. The policy cycle may, in fact, “present an interesting opportunity for long-term investors to start gradually rebuilding China exposure from their large underweight positions”.

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