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Instant Opinion: ‘political rot’ has spread from US to UK

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Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Friday 6 December

Analysis
Friday, December 6, 2019 - 3:48pm

The Week’s daily round-up highlights the five best opinion pieces from across the British and international media, with excerpts from each.

1. Finn McRedmond in The Irish Times

on the Trumpification of British politics

Political rot has spread from US to UK

“So too, as the UK’s political climate has transformed into something nearly unrecognisable from just a few years ago, the once-unthinkable becomes the new normal. The UK is going through an election remarkable mostly for its squalor and lack of vision. The Labour leader seems temperamentally incapable of apologising for the anti-Semitism that has wracked his party; and as Britain is once again is hit by a terrorist atrocity, Johnson shamelessly exploited the tragedy – against the express wishes of the bereaved families – to support his party’s law and order credentials.”

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2. Sarah Manavis in the New Statesman

on migrants facing the void

I cannot vote in the general election. And now more than ever, my life is in your hands

“I am 25-years-old and have lived in the UK for more than seven years, meaning I’ve spent more than a quarter of my life here. I’m politically engaged, informed, and I could name backbench MPs from every party – even some backbench MSPs thanks to five and a half years spent living in Scotland. I pay taxes, I donate to UK charities, and I try to be a good citizen; my friends are here, my partner is here, my life is here. But I have no choice as to what happens to that fact, and no way to even mark my political preference. So on 12 December, I’ll put a rosette on my dog and go with my boyfriend to a polling station. We’ll take a picture, I’ll tweet it, and I’ll stand outside while I wait for him to vote. I’ll trudge home, feel impotent, and stay up all night waiting for my fate to be sealed.”

3. Rohan Silva in the Evening Standard

on the myth of the bystander effect

The Good Samaritans of London Bridge show we care about strangers

“The stories we tell ourselves matter. For decades, inspired by the flawed reporting of a horrific murder, social psychologists have suggested that people are less likely to intervene in an emergency if they think someone else might step in instead. It turns out the opposite may well be true. That’s worth celebrating. As we saw in London Bridge last week, bystanders are capable of incredible acts of courage and heroism. It turns out that’s the case for all of us — and even in the wake of a despicable act of terrorism, we can still be inspired by the better angels of our nature.”

4. Matthew Yglesias in Vox

on when father-son relationships get complicated

Joe Biden still needs a better answer on Hunter and Ukraine

“It’s pretty obvious that Hunter is an all-around mess. He got kicked out of the Navy Reserve for using cocaine, and divorce papers filed by his then-wife in 2017 alleged Hunter had a pattern of ‘spending extravagantly on his own interests, including drugs, alcohol, prostitutes, strip clubs, and gifts for women with whom he has sexual relations’. He later started dating his brother’s widow, and seems to have fathered a child with another woman during this same period. Given the full picture of Hunter’s conduct, it’s pretty obvious he does lots of things his dad probably wishes he wouldn’t, though on some level, that just shows you can’t control your kids.”

5. J.J. McCullough in The Washington Post

on Trudeau’s mismanagement of Washington-Ottawa relations

Justin Trudeau can’t seem to stop ruining global summits

“Earlier this year, when Trudeau was ensnared in a shocking blackface scandal, Trump resisted the temptation to pile on, saying only that he was ‘surprised’ and had been hoping he ‘wouldn’t be asked’ about it. Even when asked for comment on this week’s hot-mic moment, Trump emphasised that, despite his prior words about Trudeau’s insincerity, he had found the prime minister to ‘be a very nice guy’. In other words, it is not at all obvious that, at the purely personal level, Trump is the one who’s doing a worse job at managing the critical Canada-US relationship.”

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