‘The pandemic and our response to it will change our economy and society forever’

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

Metropolitan Police officers patrol as people walk in Hyde Park
Hollie Adams/Getty Images
(Image credit: Metropolitan Police officers patrol as people walk in Hyde Park)

1. There is no roadmap that can take us back to the way things used to be

Nick Timothy in The Daily Telegraph

on the new normal

“The whole country is looking forward to that precious day when normal life can resume,” writes Nick Timothy in The Telegraph, but “the pandemic and our response to it will change our economy and society forever, and the consequences will be profound”. “The end of lockdown should see a rebound and strong growth as families spend the record savings they have accrued,” he predicts, adding that “after Covid there will be a greater understanding of the need for more spending on health and social care”. The future is uncertain, he says, but “there will be no way back to how things used to be”.

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2. Matt Hancock giving pandemic PPE contracts to his friends is a sign of how low our Government has sunk

Jolyon Maugham in The i

on crony contracts

“Not so long ago the notion that the government should abide by the law was common sense,” writes Jolyon Maugham in The i, but that has changed under Boris Johnson. “Respect for the law is not the only orthodoxy this Government has sacrificed,” he continues. “Transparency, too, has fallen by the wayside. And nowhere is this more in evidence than with the government’s appalling VIP lane.” Maugham adds that his Good Law Project has written to Matt Hancock with four requests: “Give us the detail of the VIP lane, make good on the Prime Minister’s promise to hold a public inquiry, commit to getting the money back from those who delivered duff PPE, and publish the prices so we can see whether we got value for money.”

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3. The culture war isn’t harmless rhetoric, it’s having a chilling effect on equality

Nesrine Malik in The Guardian

on dangerous divisions

“In the Conservative press office and rightwing media, a culture war rages,” says Nesrine Malik in The Guardian. It features “daily assaults on a cast of characters and organisations broadly associated with racial justice, migrant rights or attempts to reappraise Britain’s account of its colonial history”. Evidence of its “chilling effect” can be found with the head of a migrant rights charity who said that, when taking on new projects, he now considers “whether it will expose his organisation to claims of political bias” and worries for the safety of his staff following Priti Patel’s attacks on “activist lawyers”. “Resistance may be alive at grassroots level, but the attacks catch up eventually.”

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4. Harry and Meghan can do good but it won’t be royal service

Libby Purves in The Times

on Royal responsibilities

Harry and Meghan stated recently that “service is universal” but Libby Purves is not having any of it. “Royal service is not the same as celebrity virtue or billionaire philanthropy,” she writes in The Times. “It’s a benevolent eccentricity, accepting personal restriction in order to throw non-controversial lustre over other people’s unglamorous good works.” The columnist continues that it’s not surprising that Markle and her advisers cannot see this because “it is bafflingly British”. Nevertheless, she concludes, “those who do it dutifully deserve respect”.

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5. Why QAnon’s similarity to other cults makes it a significant national security threat

Jason Blazakis in the Los Angeles Times

on mainstream conspiracies

“It would be a mistake to believe that the election of Joseph R. Biden as president will silence the QAnon movement,” writes Jason Blazakis in the Los Angeles Times. He argues that the conspiracy theory movement resembles a sect because its most radical believers “exhibit traits that have manifested among dangerous cults and doomsday groups – a willingness to dismiss their own individuality for a perceived greater good”. Followers believe that Trump will once again be sworn in as president of the United States on 4 March, he explains. But when that resurrection fails to materialise, “the threat of violence by QAnon conspiracists will persist”.

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