Instant Opinion: the ‘unsinkable Boris Johnson’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Tuesday 6 October

Boris Johnson
Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Tuesday 6 October
(Image credit: 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. Tom McTague in The Atlantic

on a teflon PM

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The Unsinkable Boris Johnson

“Pundits continually predict that the laws of political gravity will kick in for Johnson, that this is the time he has finally been found out. And so, here we are again. As Johnson geared up for the annual Conservative Party conference—his second as Conservative leader and prime minister—the rumor mill began to churn anew: Johnson is on the wane, we hear; the jokes just aren’t funny anymore, they say. This time it really is different, his critics contend—forget Brexit, or the proroguing of Parliament, or all that has come before. Johnson’s handling of the pandemic has exposed his failings in a way that nothing else quite has. Britain’s COVID-19 death count is just too high. Johnson himself felt obliged to address these concerns in his set-piece conference speech today, dismissing as ‘nonsense’ speculation that his hospitalization with the disease had robbed him of his mojo and insisted that weaknesses in Britain’s response to the pandemic had revealed long-term problems in the health of the country, rather than his government.”

2. Kate Andrews in The Telegraph

on the battle over coronanomics

Capitalism, not socialism is the only thing that can fix this mess

“The battle between free markets and socialism that played out in the election last year felt like the battle of a generation. As important as it felt then, we could have never predicted just how important it would be, mere months later, to have politicians who believe in the power of markets and enterprise leading the way. Britain is lucky to do so: it must start putting these beliefs into actions.”

3. Alexander Fitzgerald and Conservative MP Jonathan Gullis in City AM

on broadband for the masses

Internet is an essential — so why is it still taxed as a luxury?

“The broadband tax hits the country’s lowest income households, with hard pressed families spending three times as much of their disposable income on broadband compared to richer families in London. It also exacerbates the regional disparity which the Conservatives promised to address in their manifesto last year: the poorest households in the north spend 3.6% of disposable income on broadband, three times that of the average London household, at 1.2%. Fixing this injustice should have been a priority before Covid-19 struck. Now, it is an imperative. The pandemic has accelerated the UK’s shift to a digital-first economy. Workplaces, healthcare services, businesses, and families have never been so reliant on the internet for everyday essential services, not to mention receiving the vast amount of health information and guidance from the government.”

4. Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, CEO of Plan International, in Al Jazeera

on troubles on the internet

Online harassment of girls has become normalised

“Harassment is not just a problem in and of itself, but a barrier to girls’ leadership and participation in modern life. Harmful gender norms have long pervaded every corner of our societies, undermining girls’ confidence, leadership potential and bodily autonomy. Girls are already driven from public spaces by street harassment and shut out of decision-making spaces by social norms that tell us they are not leaders. Online violence reinforces these norms in violent and explicit ways. 39% of girls told us online abuse lowers self-esteem and 38% say it creates significant mental and emotional stress. 18% say it can cause problems at school. We cannot allow this to continue in the online spaces once predicted to be a great equaliser.”

5. Ed Cumming in The Independent

on the legacy of a mascot

Goodbye for now, Gunnersaurus, your departure is a lesson and a warning to us all

“The joy of Gunnersaurus, and the reason his demise was mourned beyond N5, is his idiosyncrasy. Why is he a dinosaur? Why is he green? There’s no obvious connection to Arsenal. At other British clubs, mascots tend to the cutesy, with a tenuous and/or lame punning connection to the club. Who can forget Manchester City’s bizarre Moonchester and Moonbeam, aliens from the planet Blue Moon? Or West Ham’s ‘Hammerhead’, a kind of robot hooligan. Spurs have a large bird called ‘Chirpy Cock’, which sounds about right.”

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