‘Broken social care system is a shamefully missed opportunity’

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

State Opening of Parliament 2021
(Image credit: Chris Jackson - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

1. The Queen’s speech: sins of omission

The Guardian’s editorial board

on broken promises

The Queen’s Speech was the “first major opportunity for Boris Johnson to fill out his vision for post-pandemic Britain”, writes The Guardian’s editorial board. “That a single, prevaricating sentence was devoted to the country’s broken social care system represents a shamefully missed opportunity,” the newspaper continued. “Now should have been the moment for this government to screw its courage to the sticking place, as others have not, and introduce radical reform.” Instead, says the paper, “there was yet another desultory promise that proposals would be in place sometime soon.” It concludes: “This government may be less good at reading the public mood than it believes itself to be.”

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2. Putting flesh on the bones of the levelling up agenda

Financial Times’ editorial board

on sloganeering

“Boris Johnson’s Conservative government is fond of pithy slogans,” writes the Financial Times’ editorial board. “It won its 2019 electoral landslide on the basis of two: a pledge to ‘get Brexit done’, and another to ‘level up' deprived regions.” While some of the proposals in this year’s Queen’s Speech have “merit”, it was a list of measures with “little ideological coherence”, the newspaper continues. The government “seems unsure whether it prefers an activist state, as in the state aid plan, or the laissez-faire ethos of the freeport”. “It has ideas on levelling up, but no sweeping vision,” says the FT board. “Johnson’s government cannot rely on slogans forever. Unless it starts to deliver, over time, the ardour of Tory converts will turn to disillusionment.”

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3. This exam shambles is worse than last year

Alice Thomson in The Times

on school tests

“After last summer’s fiasco the education secretary was determined to appear reassuring when he finally announced earlier this year that exams in 2021 would be cancelled,” writes Alice Thomson in The Times. “As parents, we looked at the bull whip on Gavin Williamson’s desk, the tarantula he kept in a glass bottle, his inability to commit to free school meals, and somehow still believed him.” What he actually meant was that “1.2 million children would be taking many more tests this summer, their teachers would be forced to mark them and Ofqual would warn that grade inflation is likely to be rampant”. She concludes: “If we don’t want this generation to be consumed by the system, we need to use this crisis to re-evaluate their education.”

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4. Labour’s loss of Hartlepool is the final death rattle of a movement that has abandoned its heartlands

Maurice Glasman in New Statesman

on a divisive divorce

“Now in the tribal heartlands, where the Labour Party was not an argument or a policy proposal but a covenantal partner, there is the proof that the marriage is over,” writes Maurice Glasman in the New Statesman. The Labour Party is now “a church without a congregation in which the exhausting internal politics of decline, characterised by hate and denunciation, demonisation and exclusion, mark its demise”, Glasman says. “The noise that surrounds the loss of Hartlepool is the sound of a death rattle; a cry which grinds on without any understanding of its intense emptiness.”

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5. The surge in post-natal depression is no surprise with the appalling way women have been treated during lockdown

Naomi Firsht in The Telegraph

on a pandemic pregnancies

“Becoming a mother is an overwhelming experience, and to do so when you are forcibly cut off from the support of your family and friends is incredibly isolating,” writes Naomi Firsht in The Telegraph. “I know I am far from being the only mother who thinks the government has paid very little mind to women’s maternity experience throughout the past year’s constant cycle of lockdowns and restrictions.” She argues that “pregnant women have been treated appallingly throughout this pandemic” and “maternity care has been sub-standard”. The government’s “inhumane policies” saw women “undergo difficult maternity appointments and even childbirth alone without the support of their partners”. “Postpartum care wasn’t much better,” she continues. “When an appointment for a baby is not a priority at your GP practice you have to question what has become of the medical ethics in this country.”

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