‘The social care debacle has the same feel as the 1989 poll tax’

Your digest of analysis from the British and international press

Poll tax riots
Two protesters in Kennington, London, during the poll tax riots of March 1990
(Image credit: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

1. Mark my words, Boris Johnson will be gone by Christmas

Sean O’Grady for The Independent

on a festive exit

“Every year I write a column saying that Boris Johnson will be gone by Christmas,” says Sean O’Grady, and after two successive years of being proven wrong, he wonders if the “coming social care debacle” might finally prove him right. He says the prime minister’s social care plan will simply “add to the grotesque and arbitrary inequalities in wealth cascading down the generations” and “has the same feel as the original poll tax back in 1989 – distressingly unfair, random and divisive”. He argues that it “looks like Johnson’s own party is beginning to tire of him” and “the voters too may be thinking that the joke’s not funny any more”. Johnson worked well for Tory MPs in the past, but they are a “ruthless, unsentimental lot and he doesn’t inspire love or loyalty”, and therefore, “like a riddle in a Christmas cracker, the Tories might ask themselves: ‘what’s the point of Boris Johnson?’”

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2. Calling antivaxers the ‘new Jews’ is a sick joke

Hugo Rifkind in The Times

on mobbish arguments

“Remarkably,” writes Hugo Rifkind, some people believe that “the plight of the modern-day antivaxer” is “similar to the plight of the Jews of mid-century Europe”. As people turn up to anti-vaccination rallies wearing yellow stars and a Dutch far-right politician, Thierry Baudet, called the unvaccinated “the new Jews”, The Times columnist reminds us that the unvaccinated “have freely opted into their status, unlike the Jews, who were kinda famously stuck with it”. He explains that he is opposed to mandatory vaccines, because they are “extraordinary, unworkable and illiberal… and yet – and this may be the maddest sentence I’ve ever had to write – I do feel that the Holocaust was worse”. He rages against the “downhill, mobbish, surrendering of sanity” to such discussions. “Notice it, fight it, stamp it out,” he suggests, “or, if it’s you, just bloody stop it.”

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3. Britain is in desperate need of workers. So why is it trying to keep them out?

Simon Jenkins in The Guardian

on a Brexit fantasy

“Along the east coast of England, British employers scan the horizon,” writes Simon Jenkins, “desperate for any migrant workers whom Boris Johnson will bless with visas to pick fruit, kill turkeys, staff hotels or care for elderly people.” Meanwhile, along the south coast, “British politicians howl with horror at boatloads of just such people as they come ashore, desperate to offer their services”. While politicians and the media rage at the 24,000 asylum seekers who have crossed the channel this year, The Guardian’s Jenkins contends that, “in reality the cabinet should fall to its knees and give thanks for having to deal with only 24,000 refugees” because Italy has had 60,000 this year. “This is paltry alongside the Syrian surge of close to a million in 2015, who now seem to have merged miraculously into the German economy,” he adds. “Of all the fantasies of Brexit, the stupidest was that it would enable Britain to withstand the tides of global migration,” he said. “Nor should a robust economy need to do so. Growth needs immigrants.”

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4. The US won’t accept HRH President Meghan

Charles Moore in The Telegraph

on titular trouble

“It is true that many Americans are interested in British royalty, often exaggeratedly so, but this does not mean that they actually want a monarchy or aristocracy back,” argues Charles Moore in The Telegraph. “They have flourished without either for nearly 250 years.” Moore suggests that the Duchess of Sussex is unwise to wave around her royal credentials because she “could not become the president of the United States, or even a humble congresswoman, if she held her current title”. Furthermore, he adds, her status as “Her Royal Highness” is “a standing declaration that she owes allegiance to a foreign state and a king (or queen)”. The columnist concludes: “I do not believe the United States of America could have a genuinely royal president, any more than the Archbishop of Canterbury could become Pope.”

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5. The Yorkshire Cricket racism scandal and rise of the far right show how white people struggle to integrate

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in The i

on growing prejudice

Although Boris Johnson recently proclaimed that “Britain is not a racist country”, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown is not so sure. The columnist writes that “even this master of manipulations cannot sweep away the incontrovertible evidence of racism that builds up daily”. Touching on the Yorkshire cricket scandal and new data that shows that the number of far-right extremists referred to the government’s Prevent counter-terrorism programme is higher than that of Islamist radicals, she said the tables had been turned over an allegation often thrown at black and Asian families in the UK. “Minorities are often accused of failing to integrate, of clutching to their values and cultures at the expense of mixing with others,” she writes for the i. “Yet it strikes me that it is the white neighbourhoods, politicians, journalists and policy wonks who seem desperate to preserve their own ways and mix only with others like themselves.”

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