Instant Opinion

‘Chris Whitty is a brave man to continue so fearlessly’

Your digest of analysis and commentary from the British and international press


Sean O’Grady for The Independent

Chris Whitty has saved thousands of lives – he should be revered, not molested

on more disturbing footage

Video footage of two men appearing to accost Professor Chris Whitty in a park is “a bit disturbing”, says Sean O’Grady in The Independent. “He is a man who has saved thousands of lives, and who should be revered, or at least respected, rather than molested.” O’Grady says there is a case for England’s chief medical officer to have better security, considering there are “quite a few videos of Whitty being hounded and harassed”. The next encounter “might be far less harmless”, he writes. “What we’ve seen on the videos is bad enough, but it is the tip of a considerable iceberg – I’d have thought – of online abuse and death threats aimed at Whitty. He is a brave man, with such an unwanted high profile, to continue to do his work so conscientiously and state truths fearlessly.”


Celia Walden in The Telegraph

Judy Murray is spot on – children need to know what it feels like to lose

on winners and losers

Sir Andy Murray’s “redoubtable mother” Judy is “right in her tirade against the more than half of UK primary schools who no longer ‘believe in’ competitive sports”, argues Celia Walden in The Telegraph. The alternative, suggests Walden, is to “lie to kids right up until the age of 18 – ‘losing is just as good as winning’ – and unleash a generation into the world who fall at the first hurdle”. “Since we love to watch competition play out from our sofas – from the Euros and the Olympics to the contestants either having their lemon meringue pies spat out alongside a string of expletives on MasterChef or being judged purely on how they look in knitted trikinis on Love Island – why this terror of assessing little humans on the sports field?”


Hugo Rifkind in The Times

Don’t laugh, we’re all on candid cameras now

on mass surveillance

“Oh, the video! Oh. Scrub out my eyes with a scourer, can any of us bear to touch each other ever again?” Hugo Rifkind devotes a whole column in The Times to “that” Matt Hancock video, but not what is in it. “Eeesh, no. Enough of that. Rather, let us ponder the fact that it exists at all.” It seems likely that the disgraced MP was filmed with his mistress by “a completely official CCTV camera that had been stuck pretty openly on to the ceiling of his office”, says Rifkind. Last year, there were an estimated 5.2 million CCTV cameras in the UK. “We no longer even notice them,” he writes. “The new normal of modern life, much as we try not to think about it, is one in which you can never quite be sure whether eyes are on you or not unless you’re sealed in your own home, and perhaps not even then. Politicians, of all people, forget that at their peril.”


Jon Craig for Sky News

Captain Hindsight? Boris Johnson appears to have changed his story on Matt Hancock’s departure

on the PM’s U-turns

Boris Johnson appears to have changed his story about whether Matt Hancock was sacked or resigned, says Jon Craig for Sky News. Initially, the PM accepted his health secretary’s apology and said the matter was “closed”. Then No. 10 said he had resigned. “But now, in what looks like an extraordinary U-turn, the prime minister has suggested – not once, but twice – that he did in fact decide to sack Mr Hancock when he saw the lurid photos in the Sun on Friday morning,” Craig writes. Labour leader Keir Starmer might be accused of living up to his nickname “Captain Hindsight” by saying Hancock should have been fired immediately, but many MPs will conclude that on this issue Johnson “is the one who sounds like ‘Captain Hindsight’.”


Joe Pinsker in The Atlantic

We’re learning the wrong lessons from the world’s happiest countries

on finding joy

Since 2012, the UN’s World Happiness Report has served as a nearly annual reminder for some countries “that there are entire nations of people who are measurably happier than they are”, writes Joe Pinsker in The Atlantic. Northern European countries tend to dominate the top places, while the US has never cracked the global top ten. This “disturbing thought” has led to the “research-heavy, policy-oriented document” getting mistaken for “a trove of self-help advice”, with media coverage suggesting that mimicking aspects of other cultures will transfer their happiness to you, from taking a cold shower in the morning or baking cinnamon buns to the Danish phenomenon of hygge. Perhaps deeper insights can be gained from a lesser-known cultural ideal in the Nordic countries: “lagom, a Swedish and Norwegian word meaning ‘just the right amount’”, says Pinsker. “Lower expectations: Maybe they’ll make you happier. At the very least, they’ll come in handy for Americans when the 10th World Happiness Report comes out next year.”


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