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The Week’s daily round-up highlights the five best opinion pieces from across the British and international media, with excerpts from each.
1. Ian Hamilton in The Independent
on how Covid safety measure won’t curb binge drinkers
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Pub doors are reopening - and hospitals are preparing like it’s New Year’s Eve
“Barely a month has lapsed since we were clapping every Thursday evening showing how much we valued the NHS and its staff. Demonstrating how fickle some of us are, that same NHS is now instructed to prepare for a huge surge in demand due to alcohol-related injuries and poisonings due to pubs and bars opening after months of closure. All NHS trusts have been warned to expect levels of attendance usually seen during New Year celebrations, and have been asked to prepare their A&E departments and free up bed capacity in their hospitals to manage the increase. A pattern is developing here, as with those of us too lazy to pick up our own litter, leaving beaches and parks strewn with rubbish for others to clear up. This same mindset lies behind the lack of thought that will see pressure being placed on health services due to alcohol intoxication. How can our binge drinking square with our apparent shared belief that those staffing the NHS are our ‘heroes’? Believing we have a right to harm ourselves by drinking too much, and then expecting NHS staff and resources to rescue us, signifies a selfish and entitled culture.”
2. Philip Collins in The Times
on ‘virtue-signalling blather about the wicked right’
Labour never understands how Tories think
“The... problem with the depiction of Conservative politicians as clever, consistent tribunes of highly considered views is that it is not true. There are, of course, some members of the Conservative Party who want to cut public spending as a matter of conviction but that is not the sole, or probably even the dominant, view. If we want an insult which has at least a passing acquaintance with the truth, better to argue that the Conservative believes nothing at all, really. At any given moment, the Conservative will always have something to say but that is never an expression of fixed belief. Tories will tell you this themselves. Conservatism is more of a disposition, a mood, a manner of thinking than it is a creed. Being a member of the Labour Party is a doctrinal affair. It’s not like that being a Tory... The best way to criticise this government is not to disparage it but to take it seriously. Itemise all the promises in the Gove and Johnson speeches and count them as they fail. By all means point out that the government is intellectually confused but then go straight towards the consequences of that confusion, which is incompetence. The government cannot do what it says because it is not good enough.”
3. Fraser Nelson in The Daily Telegraph
on reopening the places where the virus is nonexistent
Forget local lockdowns, we should be lifting restrictions in the ‘not spots’
“The pubs and restaurants that open tomorrow will do so wondering if they can make ends meet under this new system – or how long the new rules will go on for. Others have given up already. The Nuffield Theatre in Southampton said yesterday that it is closing for good. Locally, there is no pandemic. Of the quarter of a million who people live in the city, just one tested positive for Covid last week. The Prime Minister now has the power to speed up the recovery. He can press ahead with partial reopening tomorrow, while being more cautious in places like Leicester and dealing with flare-ups as they arise. But local lockdowns should work both ways: he also can drop restrictions in places where it’s safe to do so. With much drama and great expense, he has built a huge testing tool that offers a faster route out of lockdown. He just needs the courage to use it.”
4. Polly Toynbee in The Guardian
on investing in education, not roads
If Boris Johnson is really interested in ‘levelling up’, he should start with nurseries
“Care and nurseries both need saving by taking them back into the public sector. We boast of a fictional ‘cradle to grave’ welfare state, but both the cradle and the last stages towards the grave were long ago outsourced into a hotchpotch of disastrous provision, largely paid for by the taxpayer yet outside both the health and education system. Both have been crippled by state underfunding and private companies trying to make a profit out of crumbs. The National Day Nurseries Association says 71% of nurseries will be running at a loss until September: will they cut corners or collapse?... Real levelling up starts right here in infancy but its visible effects wouldn’t be felt for years, unlike new roads and bridges. Rather than pushing money into the construction industry good, well-paid and well-qualified jobs can best be created by a national upgrading of nurseries and social care.”
5. Michelle Goldberg in The New York Times
on the Trump 2020 election message
Trump’s Re-election Message Is White Grievance
“A lot of Republicans are acting puzzled about Donald Trump’s re-election pitch. ‘He has no message,’ one Republican source told Reuters. ‘He needs to articulate why he wants a second term,’ said another. Some have expressed hope that Trump would find a way to become less polarizing, as if polarization were not the raison d’être of his presidency. It’s hard to know if Republicans like this are truly naïve or if they’re just pretending so they don’t have to admit what a foul enterprise they’re part of. Because Trump does indeed have a re-election message, a stark and obvious one. It is ‘white power.’... People voted for Trump for reasons besides racism. There was also sexism. Some voters were just partisan Republicans, or thought that reality TV is real and that Trump was as successful as ‘The Apprentice’ made him seem. I once met a young man at a Trump rally who’d voted for Obama but was worried about the taxes he’d pay when he inherited his family’s car dealership. Trump, however, seems to grasp that racism is what put him over the top. It’s what made his campaign seem wild and transgressive and hard to look away from.”