‘Welcome to the Labour conference where comradeship is scarcer than BP unleaded’

Your digest of analysis from the British and international press

Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner
(Image credit: Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images)

1. Labour conference: Join the party, we all hate each other here

Quentin Letts in The Times

on infighting

“Veterans of the east London boxing scene remember halls where fighting in the audience was bloodier than anything in the ring,” writes Quentin Letts in The Times. “It nearly turned like that here in Brighton when they were debating Sir Keir Starmer’s rule changes reducing the clout of activists,” he continued. “Opponents of the measure were greeted with furious, palm-bruising applause,” writes Letts. “This, in turn, upset Starmerites. ‘Wiv respect,’ said a 60-something geezer near me, turning to the Corbynista woman behind him, ‘shut the f*** up!’.” Letts summed up the atmosphere: “Welcome to the Labour conference where comradeship is scarcer than BP unleaded.” He concluded by noting: “And the conference’s slogan? ‘Stronger Future Together.’”

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2. The petrol queues seem like a throwback. But at least in the 70s our leaders weren’t so callow

John Harris in The Guardian

on a crisis of leadership

“Among the words that will send the collective British psyche into panic, three are among the most potent: Christmas, petrol and winter,” writes John Harris in The Guardian. “Put them together, and you have the perfect ingredients for a crisis, made all the more surreal by the fact that one of its key causes – Brexit – is a word no one in politics wants to mention,” he says. Headlines over the past week have “repeatedly drawn comparisons with the fabled winter of discontent of 1978-79”, he notes. “For a few people, that might also evoke hopes of some Margaret Thatcher-esque saviour sooner or later coming to clean up the mess,” he continues. But it also begs the question: “why do our current front-rank politicians hardly inspire confidence?” As he says: “For now, there is only the unsettling combination of a mounting social and economic crisis, and political responses so unconvincing they suggest the Nirvana lines to which I and my fellow Gen X-ers once bellowed along, almost as an apology: ‘Oh well, whatever, never mind.’”

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3. Why James Bond being called ‘basically a rapist’ is more important than you think

Katie Edwards in The Independent

on a troubling legacy

“Is nothing beyond the reach of the self-righteous tentacles of the woke brigade? Now Bond? Surely, not the saviour of our cinemas James Bond?!” jokes Katie Edwards in The Independent. A slew of headlines were triggered this week when Cary Fukunaga, the director of No Time To Die, the latest instalment in the James Bond franchise, “said what we already knew: James Bond is ‘basically’ a rapist,” writes Edwards. “Predictably and tediously, Fukunaga is now accused of creating a Bond for the woke era. What can we expect from a snowflake Bond? He whips off his disguise to reveal a Black Lives Matter T-shirt?” she writes. “Nope. Just a 12A certificate from the British Board of Film Classification.” “We should pay close attention to the many incarnations of Bond,” argues Edwards. “The character is a mirror that reflects back our cultural mores – even when that includes sexual violence against woman as entertainment with a jaunty quip and a devilish smirk.”

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4. Germany is stuck. And there isn’t anyone who can move it

Oliver Nachtwey in The New York Times

on political paralysis

“It could have been a fresh start,” writes Oliver Nachtwey in The New York Times on Germany’s federal elections. “In the face of a number of pressing challenges, rising inequality, run-down infrastructure and spiraling climate change among them, the election was a chance for the country to chart a better, more equal course for the 21st century,” he continues. “Instead, Germany is stuck. Ms. Merkel may be leaving. Yet the Germany she cultivated – careful, cautious, averse to major change – will carry on as before.” With the election campaign playing out against a backdrop of “multiple crises” the current moment “demands boldness”, argues Nachtwey. “But that’s not going to happen. Instead the new era, locked into consensual politics and tepid policy, is likely to be more of the same.”

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5. Havana Syndrome is (obviously) a hoax

Arthur Bloom on UnHerd

on a mysterious illness

“American deference to the intelligence community has reached the point of absurdity,” writes Arthur Bloom for UnHerd. “According to the powers-that-be, we are supposed to believe that someone is sending little green men to Guangzhou, Hanoi, Havana, Vienna, India, and the National Mall, pointing sound guns at them and giving them concussions.” He goes on: “Havana Syndrome has all the signs of a scientific hoax: advanced technology never before seen by mankind combined with vague and contrasting accounts from survivors. UFO abductees provide more detail than Havana Syndrome sufferers,” Bloom argues. “The best explanation for Havana Syndrome is mass psychogenic illness, possibly due to stress,” he contends. But the ensuing panic “even has unnamed diplomatic sources begging to be taken seriously. From pee tapes to Russian bounties to spook Morgellons, we’re living in the dumbest spy novel ever.”

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