Instant Opinion: Labour will not win by ‘pandering to rightwing voters’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Thursday 16 July

Keir Starmer
Keir Starmer on a visit to Gedling Country Park for talks with care home workers and family members of residents
(Image credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

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

1. Lynsey Hanley in The Guardian

on the route to victory for Starmer

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Labour will win by changing minds – not pandering to rightwing voters

“Since succeeding Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader in April, Starmer hasn’t just shown caution on social issues that are deemed to put ‘red wall’ voters into a red mist. He appears to have assumed that in order to win those voters back, Labour must try and prove its cultural conservatism. Why else would Starmer take positions that will lose him as many supporters as he possibly stands to gain? It’s impossible to imagine an 18-year-old hear him equivocate over the Black Lives Matter movement and believe he had any desire, let alone a vision, to help society move forward. Nor when he blindly applauded the police, shortly after it transpired that police officers had taken selfies with the bodies of the murdered black women Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman.”

2. Sean O’Grady in The Independent

on the coup against Chris Grayling

The sacking of Julian Lewis proves what we feared: this country is under absolute rule by Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings

“Agent Grayling, absurd as it may seem, was Number 10’s secret weapon in its attempt to eliminate independent scrutiny of its actions, and to do what it likes in the field of national security. Independent minded advice is out; absolute rule by Johnson and Dominic Cummings is in. That is why they forced Sir Mark Sedwill out of his role as National Security Adviser, and replaced him with a political appointee, David Frost. It is a highly suspicious and disturbing development. As with the continuing wider efforts – which will intensify – to evade media attention, bully the BBC, curb the Supreme Court, politicise the civil service, suppress the franchise and crush parliamentary dissent, this is a government that regards itself as ‘the people’s government’ yet has a mandate to do as it likes: an elective dictatorship. The only saving grace is that Number 10 is so incompetent at its grab for power. That’s why we’ve seen so many U-turns and mix ups over the coronavirus crisis. Not quite in the Grayling league for cluelessness, perhaps, but they are failing too.”

3. Max Hastings in The Daily Telegraph

on the battle between tech giants and the public

The great divide will be tech barons and serfs

“In a new book that is receiving much attention in the US, The Coming of Neo-Feudalism, [author Joel Kotkin] anticipates a world dominated by the irresistible power and wealth of techno-oligarchs. Inequality will worsen. The propertied middle class will be squeezed. The intellectual class, represented by academe, the arts and media, will serve as what he dubs the clerisy, roughly approximating to the medieval priesthood, without the religion. They will derive legitimacy from their brains and knowledge. He reserves his grimmest forecast for the relatively unskilled and uneducated, who are doomed to serfdom. They will be imprisoned in menial roles as cleaners, park-keepers, domestic servants: their children will have little more prospect of advancement than did those of the bonded peasants of the Middle Ages. After three quarters of a century of social mobility, henceforward the relatively clever and wealthy will reserve economic and educational advantage for their own descendants, as assuredly as did the aristocracy of old. ‘History,’ Kotkin writes, ‘does not always move forward.’”

4. Matt Kilcoyne, deputy director of the Adam Smith Institute, in The Times

on the cost of flip-flopping on Covid safety

We’re paying the price for the Government’s lie that masks are worse than useless

“There are now thousands of online stores selling cloth masks, with options to customise. This has no effect on the supply of the medical-grade devices. But it all came months after the height of the risk. The Government’s anti-mask position hampered the dynamic market process that could have increased supplies earlier, and helped prevent the spread and saved lives - their much touted goal. The about-turn by the government, from rejecting mask use to subtly recommending it to rapidly forcing it on people with penalty fines if people don’t comply, all comes from that earlier lie. The real victim of this jumpy approach is trust in our institutions at this extremely dangerous time. People have stopped trusting the government’s advice. We have seen them flip flop and flail on these issues. For too long, the Government blatantly pushed falsehoods to put the NHS ahead of lives.”

5. Ilhan Omar, Democrat congresswoman for Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District, in The Washington Post

on the US right’s response to structural racism

When I spoke out about systematic oppression, the Republican response was vicious

“This past week, I met with community members and state lawmakers to push for more change in the wake of George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis. Floyd was killed in my Minnesota district — and his death was the catalyst for conversations around police brutality and structural racism that have begun to transform the nation. Afterward, I told reporters, ‘We are not merely fighting to tear down systems of oppression in the criminal justice system — we are fighting to tear down systems of oppression that exist in housing, in education, in health care, in employment and in the very air we breathe’... But minutes after my news conference, the Republican National Committee clipped 27 seconds of my speech and added a false caption that said I had just called for getting rid of the entire U.S. economy and government... Such continued distortions are a sign of the president’s weakness among voters. We know his team wouldn’t be relying so heavily on racist distortions if it were confident in its policies’ popularity.”

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.