Instant Opinion

‘Why do we have it in for prime ministers’ wives?’

Your digest of analysis from the British and international press

1

Matthew Parris in The Spectator

In defence of Carrie Johnson

on a rotten time

“Why are we so mean to prime ministers’ wives?” asks Matthew Parris in The Spectator. After following a Liberal Democrat canvasser in the Tiverton and Honiton by-election campaign, Parris was surprised to discover that Carrie Johnson “seemed to be an issue” for voters. “Who did she think she was?” they asked. Parris concluded that “we seem to have it in for prime ministers’ wives, we give them an often rotten time, and that’s mean, unjust and a tiny bit misogynistic”. Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth is evidence that “suspicion of undeclared female influence in a marriage runs deep and ancient in our culture”, he argues, before recalling the hard time Cherie Blair got from the media. “I dislike our culture’s predilection for seeing something threatening in a prime minister’s wife with a mind of her own. So carry on Carrie.”

2

Simon Kelner for The i

The public won’t be turned against strikers. They know who the real enemy is

on striking sympathy

“This government, and its messengers in the right-wing media, have tried to characterise the rail workers and their bosses – or ‘barons’, as some newspapers call them – as class warriors and apologists for the Putin regime,” writes Simon Kelner for The i, “but this doesn’t seem to be getting much traction with the British people.” He believes that although Boris Johnson is “trying to turn worker against worker,” if you listen to Mick Lynch, the general secretary of the main rail workers’ union, “you hear a calm, pragmatic man” who is “no Arthur Scargill”. He reminds readers that “it wasn’t so long ago that we were invited to stand on our doorsteps and applaud the public sector workers who kept the country going during the pandemic” and “train drivers were essential to keep the supply chain working.”

3

Sacha Deshmukh for The Guardian

A British bill of rights? This draconian plan is a rights removal bill

on a hatchet job

The government’s “long-threatened, misleadingly titled and highly controversial bill of rights is finally here,” writes Sacha Deshmukh for The Guardian. The UK chief executive of Amnesty International says the Ministry of Justice has “taken a hatchet to the single most powerful rights tool this country has ever had” and “yet its press release announcing the bill suggests this is somehow good news for us all”. Replacing the Human Rights Act gives the public fewer rights and “could constitute a breach of the Good Friday agreement, upsetting a delicate balance of peace,” he warns. “Ignore the name of this new legislation,” he concludes. “It is a rights removal bill, and it will leave us all the poorer.”

4

Philip Johnston for The Telegraph

Britain can’t claim to care about free speech if it extradites Julian Assange

on a preposterous sentence  

“Let’s face it, Julian Assange is not the most sympathetic of figures but his likeability is of no relevance to whether he is being properly treated by the criminal justice system,” writes Philip Johnston for The Telegraph. He reminds us that, last week, Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, signed an executive order “under which he can be handed over to the American authorities for trial on charges of espionage, for which he could face the clearly preposterous sentence of 175 years in prison”. The government’s acquiescence to the US is “worrying and comes on the eve of the publication today of a British Bill of Rights which is due to enshrine a commitment to free speech as one of its central provisions”, but free speech must “defend the right of journalists to hold the powerful to account for misconduct that they would rather the public did not know about”, argues Johnston.

5

The Times editorial board

Shut up and eat

on raucous restaurants

“London has the loudest restaurants in Europe, and the second loudest in the world, lagging only behind San Francisco,” says a leader comment in The Times. “Fully four fifths of them have a background din so loud as to render conversation impossible,” it reports. “These findings are striking, because the British, or at least their restaurant-going classes, do not tend to think of themselves as particularly noisy people,” it continues, “yet frequently, the capital’s restaurants are so loud that you might as well be dining next to a lawnmower, or on a motorbike.” This is “all very well for people with nothing much to say, and companions who would rather not hear it” but “for the rest of us, it can be a bit of a bore,” so “restaurants should remember that many of their customers want a meal, not a headache”.

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