‘Labour’s incoherent response to the rail strikes has profound implications’

Your digest of analysis from the British and international press

Keir Starmer speaks to reporters while campaigning in Wakefield
(Image credit: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

1. Rail strikes show Labour is stuck in the past

Daniel Finkelstein in The Times

on choosing a future

Labour is “stuck between its identity as the party of ‘workers’ and its aspiration to govern on behalf of everyone”, writes Daniel Finkelstein in The Times, the party unable to “articulate a coherent response” to the prospective rail strikes next week. Its “inability to say what it thinks, indeed to decide what it thinks” about the rail strikes “has profound implications for its future”. Finkelstein writes how he is “not sure how seriously to take” the claim that Labour is the party of the working people. Many of those working people “have to travel by train in order to do so”, he says, and so the railway strike “is not merely a strike by working people, it is also a strike against working people”. Many of those people inconvenienced by the strikes “will have worse pay and conditions than the strikers”, he argues. The idea that the main dividing line in politics is the “common interest of all labouring people, against non-labouring people” is certainly now untrue.

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2. It took a human rights court to halt No. 10’s Rwanda flight – and act with basic humanity

Enver Solomon in The Guardian

on keeping compassion

The European Court of Human Rights’ blocking of the UK government’s first Rwanda asylum flight on Tuesday night is a “watershed moment: in government policymaking, in the country’s global standing and for our collective moral compass”, writes chief executive of the Refugee Council Enver Solomon in The Guardian. Behind every refugee “there’s a harrowing story of upheaval, war, persecution and personal tragedy”, he says, adding that the “government has blatantly disregarded the UN refugee convention”. Home Secretary Priti Patel’s policy is “‘groundbreaking’…for all the wrong reasons”, and it represents a “huge step backwards in the long and controversial history of UK immigration policy”. “It took the European Court of Human Rights to see those faces and to act with humanity”, he concludes. “A country that seeks to abandon compassion is in very bleak territory.”

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3. Gareth Southgate doesn’t know what he’s doing

Philip Patrick in The Spectator

on judging success

“Does Gareth Southgate know what he is doing?” asks Philip Patrick in the Spectator, following the England football team’s dismal 4-0 loss at home to Hungary on Tuesday night. “Ordinarily there would be serious questions raised about the manager’s position after such a debacle,” he writes, but “Gareth Southgate is immovable, thanks to his freshly inked [£5m a year] contract extension.” An “exceptionally favourable pathway at Russia 2018” and “some large slices of luck” at the 2021 Euros contrasted against how he “made a mess of the World Cup semi and the Euros final”, make it “difficult” to “truly evaluate Southgate’s, or arguably, any manager’s true value and contribution”. Any manager should be judged on “how successful they are in relation to the quality of the squad available to them, and the opposition faced”, he says, adding that “by such a calculation Southgate plummets”.

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4. As the sensible friend, Everything I Know About Love made me feel so very dull

Aimee Meade at the i news site

on dismantling TV tropes

“The Messy Millennial Woman is inescapable in TV and literature,” writes Aimee Meade at the i news site. The BBC’s adaptation of Everything I Know About Love “highlights just how tired a trope” it has become. But “there’s another that I think we could do away with too,” says Meade, “the neurotic sidekick, or as I like to call her, The Sensible Sally.” As a “fellow Sensible Sally, it doesn’t half make me feel boring”, she writes. “We might not like to stay out until sunrise,” she adds, but it’s this character “who can be relied upon” and “it’s these attributes I’d like to see celebrated more on TV.” Author Dolly Alderton “isn’t to blame for her depiction of what counts as “fun” – it is rooted in reality”, argues Meade. “Millennial women have grown up in the aftermath of ladette culture” and that expectations at university were to “get horrendously pissed and wake up in the morning with funny anecdotes”. “This is why I’d love to see TV creators challenge the trope of the neurotic sidekick and show us Sensible Sallys that there is lots to love about us too,” Meade writes. “After all the hangovers we’ve nursed, it’s the least we deserve.”

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5. Magic mushrooms in care homes? I’d rather just pop my clogs

Hannah Betts in The Telegraph

on accepting death

“Death isn’t a tragedy, just – you know – life; and we shouldn’t need to be off our t-ts to face it,” writes Hannah Betts in The Telegraph, dismayed at the proposal by psychology professor Dr David Luke that “the psychedelic psilocybin, derived from magic mushrooms, be used to ease the dying through their end.” On her own parents’ deaths she writes that she “would delay these events”, and “change the pained particulars”, but adds that “they were the most profound learning – and loving – experiences of my life”. “Frankly, I’d rather just pop my clogs,” Betts writes on taking her chances on a mushroom-induced trip. “After all, nothing is certain but death and taxes, and it is my experience that accepting the former makes this inevitability more tolerable.”

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