‘If the UK had won, Eurovision 2023 would have been at a Travel Tavern off the M4’

Your digest of analysis from the British and international press

 Members of the band Kalush Orchestra pose onstage with the Ukrainian flag
Kalush Orchestra celebrate in Turin after winning Eurovision for Ukraine
(Image credit: Marco Bertorello/AFP via Getty Images)

1. Why I’m relieved that the UK lost Eurovision

Tim Stanley for The Telegraph

on coming second to Ukraine

The government “must have breathed a sigh of relief” when the UK lost the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday night, says Tim Stanley in The Telegraph. The winners have to host the competition the following year, and the UK “cannot afford” it. “Eurovision 2023 would’ve been at a Travel Tavern off the M4 – finger buffet, cash bar – presented by Nigel Farage.” What’s more, our “European visitors wouldn’t be seeing the UK at its best” – at least the bands that made it to the UK and weren’t “rerouted to Rwanda” by Priti Patel. That said, continues Stanley, “it was a gripping bit of TV: we won the judges’ votes, then lost the popular vote, and only to a country that, on this front at least, couldn’t lose”. Next year, he adds, “the UK can return to its safe space at the bottom of the league table, and we won’t have to pretend to take Eurovision seriously”.

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2. Locking up pregnant women damages mothers and children – yet the UK does it

Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett for The Guardian

on dangerous prison pregnancies

An image that replays in my mind “is that of a teenage girl discovered in bed one morning curled up, bloody, with her baby, who is dead” after she gave birth without assistance, says Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett in The Guardian. In this case, the woman was in prison at the time she went into labour. “Does that change how you see these women?” she asks, adding: “It doesn’t for me.” This failing “shows that prison is no place for a pregnant woman,” continues Cosslett. “It simply isn’t safe.” More than 30 years ago, the newborn Cosslett shared a postnatal ward “with a baby who was born to a mother incarcerated at Holloway and supervised by prison guards”. My mother and I have “long wondered what happened to that mum and that baby”, she concludes. “How cruelly they must have been treated. And for what?”

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3. Throwing more cash at the NHS will not guarantee a better experience for patients

Ian Birrell for the i news site

on the ‘NHS money pit’

Jeremy Hunt has admitted “that he does not rule out another tilt at the top job if there is a vacancy”, writes columnist Ian Birrell for the i news site. He’s also written a book offering “an honest reflection of his time in charge of the NHS”. The timing could not be “more explosive”, says Birrell, landing “at a time when there seems to be a growing acceptance about the urgent need for more serious debate over our creaking health and care services”. But although funding is crucial, the most complex issues “will not simply be solved by throwing more cash into the NHS money pit”. It is “easy to be cynical about a politician writing such a book”, concludes Birrell, but “we all need to become better at learning from mistakes – including politicians”.

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4. Time to unplug the Kremlin hotline, Mr Macron, it’s making you a laughing stock

Dominic Lawson for the Daily Mail

on attempts to ‘pow-wow with Putin’

To “no one’s surprise, Ukraine won the Eurovision Song Contest”, says Dominic Lawson in the Daily Mail. That made sense, but there was still “something symbolic in the fact that the British entry came second, while those of Germany and France were last and second last respectively”. Out of the European nations, the UK has been “the most outspoken in its support for the absolute right of the Ukrainian people to make no concession to Moscow’s demands”, says Lawson. By contrast, “Germany and France trusted President Putin’s assurances that he would not invade”. Emmanuel Macron’s “continued futile attempts to pow-wow with Putin” have been criticised by President Zelenskyy, as well as a prominent presenter on Rossiya 1, who “ridiculed Macron’s persistent telephoning” of the Russian leader. “Unplug your hotline to the Kremlin, Mr Macron,” concludes Lawson.

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5. This year’s A-level class deserves our sympathy

Libby Purves for The Times

on questioning the exam system

“After a three-year Covid hiatus, the school exam season will dominate the next six weeks in many homes,” says Libby Purves in The Times. It’s worth remembering that “82% of head teachers say that students’ anxiety and stress are higher than before the pandemic”. They’ve seen a “boom” in young people requesting separate exam rooms and extended time. In one case, a student even asked for an “emotional support dog”. This year’s A-level group “deserves particular sympathy”, says Purves, “because in 2020 it didn’t have proper GCSE exams, and so has never experienced a hall full of anxious breathing and scribbling”. And what is “invigorating”, she continues, is seeing “how many voices” are now questioning the whole system.

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