‘Chancellors are not just accountants - they have the power to reshape the country’

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

Chancellor Rishi Sunak visits the Imperial Clinic Research Facility
Jack Hill/WPA Pool/Getty Images
(Image credit: Chancellor Rishi Sunak visits the Imperial Clinic Research Facility)

1. Will the real Rishi Sunak stand up?

Rachel Sylvester in The Times

on a tenuous treasurer

Rishi Sunak’s love of the Star Wars films is well documented, but “it is not yet clear what kind of new world order the Treasury crusader wants to create”, writes Rachael Sylvester in The Times. As Sunak prepares to unveil his budget tomorrow, the unanswered question of his “long-term political mission” looms ever larger. Because after all, “chancellors are not just accountants; they have the power to reshape the country”, says Sylvester. Describing a dinner party where she was seated next to him, she recalls that “we started talking about knife crime - my teenage son had just been mugged at knifepoint - and I realised I had no idea where he stood on law and order”. And “Sunak’s views on the future of the education system or social care are equally hard to pin down”. But with pundits tipping the chancellor as a future PM, he must reveal his political philosophy if he hopes to “move next door to No. 10”.

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2. Covid Has Divided Society. Vaccine Passports Will Make It Worse

Jay Patel on HuffPost

on segregated liberty

“Vaccine passports risk dividing society,” warns Jay Patel on HuffPost. The group-by-group rollout of Covid jabs in the UK could “see the country split into an older, vaccinated group and a younger group stuck inside awaiting their jabs”. So “can we say vaccine passports would really give us freedom if the population is effectively segregated?” Patel argues that history is dotted with “many more failures in this approach than successes”. These lessons from the past suggest that vaccine passports would also “not be the route to liberty but the route to segregated liberty”.

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3. The horrific abuse of sports stars exposes social media’s mob rule

Simon Jenkins in The Guardian

on unsporting content

Simon Jenkins is calling for social media platforms to do more to tackle online abuse like that faced by BBC sports reporter Sonja McLaughlan over her pitchside interviews following last Saturday’s Wales-England rugby match. Jenkins writes that “if the Guardian filled its pages with fake news, false accusations and abuse of named individuals, it would spend its days permanently in court, as would the BBC and other media outlets”. Yet while “social media is mass media”, regulation “has not yet caught up” with the shift online. With few signs of any imminent changes, he suggests that “our grandchildren will ask why it took us so long – and caused so much hurt – before we brought civility to bear on the new medium, and gave sport back its dignity”.

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4. The Queen should share her land with the public to take the pressure off crowded parks

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown for the i news site

on royal greed

“The 15 parks in our local area are knackered and overcrowded,” complains Yasmin Alibhai-Brown on the i news site - but she has a solution. “The Queen has urged Britons to think of others during this pandemic” and “she should lead by example by opening up her vast, beautiful, arboreal treasures”. That “won’t happen” though, predicts Alibhai-Brown. The Windsors “will never share their estates, not even in this time of great need”. And their subjects will simply “suck it up” like “the generations of unfortunate peasants before them”.

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5. When it comes to older actresses, TV and cinema need to grow up

Judith Woods in The Telegraph

on ageing actors

“Diversity in race, religion and sexuality are trumpeted” in film and television, writes Judith Woods in The Telegraph. “Yet the treatment of older actresses remains a shocking blind spot.” Former Royle Family star Sue Johnston has “witheringly observed” that having been cast as Sean Bean’s wife in an episode of Inspector Morse back in the day, she is now playing his mother in new BBC drama Time. While “there may be an age gap of 15 years or so”, says Woods, “had Bean been older than Johnston, I am sure nobody would have considered him for the role of her father”. But though it may be “an outrage”, this sort of treatment of older actresses is “simply business as usual in the entertainment industry”.

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