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Instant Opinion: Salmond trial ‘deepens faultlines’ in Scottish politics

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Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Wednesday 25 March

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Wednesday, March 25, 2020 - 2:20pm

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

1. Ruth Wishart in The Guardian

on Scotland’s ruling party

Alex Salmond’s trial has deepened the faultlines in Scottish politics

“Alex Salmond and his successor, Nicola Sturgeon, were once the closest of allies, and genuine friends. She once stood aside when he indicated he would like to return as Scottish National Party leader. Both worked together on the 600-plus page white paper published in advance of the 2014 independence referendum. And when that vote was lost by 55% to 45% Sturgeon tried to persuade him not to resign. Inevitably, that relationship was to break down. Not least because some of the women who made allegations against Salmond were close to both Sturgeon and the SNP. And, indeed, all of them operated within the Scottish political village. Further, Salmond became openly critical of Sturgeon as pre-trial battle lines were joined. The trial also highlighted – some would argue promoted – divisions between those who still hankered after the bullish style of a Salmond leadership and those thankful for the more cautious, measured tones of his successor.”

2. Eric Schliesser and Eric Winsberg in the New Statesman

on denial and disinformation

Climate and coronavirus: the science is not the same

“Given the disparate level of scientific scrutiny applied to climate change and Covid-19, it is misleading to compare the industry-financed and bad-faith questioning of climate science, to questioning the rapid response of scientists using limited models of the coronavirus and drawing on data that is at best incomplete. And while there is a growing policy consensus about how to respond to Covid-19, consensus is only a good guide to credibility and reliability if the relevant group of scientists is an appropriately structured and communicative community. Unfortunately, there is currently no well-ordered scientific community studying Covid-19 and its impact, so the emerging consensus could be the result of any number of all-too-human biases.”

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3. Annabel Sowemimo, a sexual health doctor, in The Independent

on reproductive rights during self-isolation

Coronavirus is being used to roll back abortion rights by stealth

“During the coronavirus outbreak, it is likely that we will see an increase in demand for abortion, for a number of reasons, including economic hardship, relationship breakdown and lack of access to contraception. Given this, it is vital that we maintain safe and effective abortion care during this critical time. Lead organisations including the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and the Faculty of Sexual & Reproductive Health have produced clear guidance for abortion providers, and it is time that the government does the same.”

4. Alex Wagner in The Atlantic

on troubling times for the former VP

Stay alive, Joe Biden

“Through it all - the fairly awful campaign events and confusing statements and garbled debate performances - the idea of the former vice president has somehow remained consistent, and apparently convincing, as both Trump’s inverse and co-equal. Senator Bernie Sanders may still be in the race, but this is a detail. Democrats have chosen Biden as their vessel for Trump’s defeat, and that choice is the entire point: The vanquishing matters more than anything else. In all likelihood, the desire to oust Trump will be piercing in the coming days, as death and chaos escalate. The president has been reckless, duplicitous, and morally hazardous in his leadership during a pandemic that is likely to be the defining event of a generation - forget about a campaign cycle. But the many union members looking at their closed casinos and the mothers in lockdown with their children and the students forced off their campuses and the older Americans living in complete isolation may find it impossible to imagine that their earlier fears about another four years of Trump have abated, or that the ferocity of their desire to get him out of office has lessened. Indeed, the emotion of this moment may displace any that has come before it.”

5. Belen Fernandez on Al Jazeera

on ugly developments in Central America

Forty years on, El Salvador's war is still not over

“Nowadays, the US charmingly persists in backing Salvadoran state security forces known for extrajudicial executions and other grave human rights abuses - while Salvadorans fleeing the violent milieu find themselves up against an ever more fanatically militarised US border. Indeed, a February Human Rights Watch report documented how the US has literally been deporting Salvadoran migrants to their deaths. And as the US continues to back institutional violence in a country long terrorised, one can safely say that - 40 years after the launch of the civil war in El Salvador - the war rages on.”

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