Instant Opinion

‘Boris Johnson is blaming the young for his own misjudgements’

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


Sean O’Grady for The Independent

Boris Johnson is ‘raging’ at young people over the vaccine uptake – but this is a mess of his own making

on diverting criticism

Boris Johnson is a “funny fellow”, writes Sean O’Grady in The Independent. “He relaxes ‘lockdown’ too rapidly and too soon” and then “starts ‘raging’, as the newspapers report, because not enough young folk have gotten round to having a jab, let alone getting double dosed”. It wasn’t long ago that young people were “being praised as a sensible and conscientious generation”, but now they’re enraging the prime minister so much “he wants to make them show vaccine passports to get into nightclubs or go to university lectures”. These “harsh measures” might have been necessary at some point, adds O’Grady, but it was Johnson’s own misjudgement to end most of the final Covid precautions “before the vaccination programme was practically complete”. Now students and teenagers “are being blamed by the government” for the relatively low vaccine uptake among the under-30s. By over-hyping “so-called ‘freedom day’”, the government created a false “post-Covid” atmosphere, O’Grady says, and are now facing the consequences. 


Zhou Xin for the South China Morning Post

China’s population crisis needs more help than just scrapping fines for having too many children

on birth rates

Officials announced last week that families in China “no longer have to worry about being fined or being hit with other consequences for having additional children”, writes Zhou Xin in the South China Morning Post. The move came after the country introduced a three-child policy in May 2021 with the aim of tackling China’s “plunging birth rate and shrinking labour force”. This is a “good move”. But, says Xin, the government needs to do more than just remove punishments. “The real costly and challenging part is to introduce incentives” to encourage the country’s couples – many of whom “grew up as an only child” – to have more children. “Japan, South Korea and Taiwan have tried for years, if not decades, but the results have not been satisfactory.” Beijing needs to work hard to address its population crisis.


Ian Burrell for the i news site

British broadcasters are rightly celebrating the Olympics and Paralympics as part of one great sport festival

on broadcasting the Paralympics

The UK “deserves an extra gold medal” for our broadcasters’ recognition that now is the time to “celebrate the athletic greatness of both the able-bodied and the disabled”, writes Ian Burrell for the i news site. The BBC’s selection of JJ Chalmers, the disabled athlete and television host, in its Olympics presenting team alongside Clare Balding and Jessica Ennis-Hill “is sending a signal that the Olympics and Paralympics are part of one great festival of sport”. After the Olympics, Chalmers will join Channel 4’s team to cover next month’s Paralympics, Burrell adds. He has “pioneered a path from disability sport to the Olympics”, and media and governing bodies of mainstream sports “should take heed of his example”.


John Zavitsanos for The New York Times

We’re kidding ourselves that workers perform well from home

on returning to the office

In March, John Zavitsanos, the co-founder of litigation boutique Ahmad, Zavitsanos, Anaipakos, Alavi & Mensing, and his partners paid “special bonuses” to all employees to reward them for their “record-breaking work in 2020”. Work they carried out not on Zoom together, but in actual real life together, he writes in The New York Times. When the pandemic struck the US in March 2020, Zavitsanos closed the office “along with most other city businesses”, but decided to reopen just five weeks later. “While lawyers at other Houston law firms claimed to be happy with remote work, I believe it prevented us from performing at our sharpest,” he says. The decision to reopen paid off, Zavitsanos writes. In 2020, the company’s revenue grew by 39% and it was never forced to cut staff or salaries. “Our choice to reopen was not without consequence”, he adds, but “as the year wore on, it became clear to me that ambitious lawyers at firms like ours simply couldn’t thrive in a virtual setting”.


Isabel Hardman for the London Evening Standard

Holey leaves? They’re the bee’s knees

on the wonders of nature

You’re probably familiar with “plants with leaves chomped into postage stamp edges”, writes Isabel Hardman, assistant editor of the Spectator and author of The Natural Health Service, in the London Evening Standard. “Those perforations are appearing now as leaf-cutter bees build nests.” The female bees “bite little chunks in foliage” which they then carry to the hole “where they’ll lay their eggs”. “Some gardeners get upset and worried when they find leaf-cutter bite marks on their roses and other prized plants”, says Hardman. “But there is no need to worry as they do no harm, merely making the garden just a little bit more ornate and interesting.” Reframe the way you see nature “as a thing of wonder, rather than something to be sprayed and controlled into sad submission” by appreciating and making the most of your postage-stamp leaves.


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