Instant Opinion: Britain ‘less polarised’ than many believe

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Monday 7 October

UK and EU flags at Westminster

The Week’s daily round-up highlights the five best opinion pieces from across the British and international media, with excerpts from each.

1. John Harris in The Guardian

on the bond of political disillusion

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Britain is less polarised than the media would have us believe

“I met lifelong Tories who said that Johnson’s arrival at the top, his nasty rhetoric and his do-or-die vision of leaving the EU meant they would not vote Conservative for the foreseeable future. There were also several encounters with past supporters of Labour who had a damning view of Jeremy Corbyn, and seemed to think that he symbolised something comparable to the Tories’ journey to the extremes. I actually don’t think this rules out the kind of radicalism Labour now represents: Milton Keynes is full of the kind of basic social dysfunction, from low wages to a lack of housing, that now runs to almost every part of the country and cries out for answers, albeit framed more winningly than Labour is currently managing. The fact that the party’s local vote shot up two years ago seems to give it grounds for hope. But mistrust of the Labour leader illustrates another element of political estrangement, and how a discourse of bitter partisanship, online shouting and endless faction-fighting – on both right and left – is leaving a lot of people cold.”

2. Luisa Porritt in

on the hypocrisy of the UK’s Brexit strategy

Britain’s democracy gap

“Led by Britain, the EU helped catalyse the democratisation of former Soviet states by offering a way into the biggest, borderless single market in the world. A critical part of that process was holding aspirant EU member states to the so-called Copenhagen criteria, which require ‘stable institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities’. The UK can only be a leader in the world if it continues to respect those same standards itself. Once a trailblazer for the principles of open markets, human rights and the rule of law, the UK is now in danger of finding itself robbed of the right to moral leadership in all three areas. It is seeking divorce from the biggest market in the world, derogation from obligations on human rights and a ‘pick and mix’ attitude to equality before the law.”

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3. Dean Obeidallah in CNN

on the White House blame game

Trump will blame everyone else for impeachment

“But that is par for the course with Trump. This is the same person who, after the Democrats won the House in 2018 by flipping 40 seats, refused to take any responsibility for that loss, despite midterm elections being traditionally viewed as a referendum on the President. Instead, after the GOP lost the House, Trump not only refused to acknowledge his unpopularity contributed to this result, he instead blamed the losses on the media and even some Republicans for refusing to embrace him during the 2018 campaign.”

4. Nick West in the South China Morning Post

on the ongoing crisis in Hong Kong

Fix Hong Kong’s politics and we can fix its frustrations too

“Most importantly, election of Legco by universal suffrage as mandated by Article 68 will give Hongkongers a legitimate outlet for their frustrations, and so perhaps the next time politicians bungle policy, Hongkongers will express their opinions at the polls rather than in the streets. ‘One country, two systems’ can only work if Hong Kong has a working system. Can the establishment and the opposition reach a compromise to fix Hong Kong’s broken system? Do they want to?”

5. Swedish MEP Par Holmgren in iNews

on the joys of rail travel

Why I've ditched planes for 24 hour commutes to work by train

“I understand some people are hesitant towards travelling Europe by train. Coordination between train operators need to improve, buying tickets in-between countries must become easier, and better shared responsibility for the rebound of night trains on longer railroad stretches taken. To improve train traffic throughout Europe and to facilitate travelling for all generations, including senior and junior travellers, is a political issue where the Greens are not likely to face the strongest opposition. On other issues we do. Particularly from the more conservative political groups. We are prepared for this, and we have improved our possibilities to influence and create change. Not only when it comes to important detail-oriented issues, such as train traffic, but also the essential one: to create a more sustainable and fair society. For us living here today and for future generations.”

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