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Quickfire

Fresh perspectives on today's stories

10:45 am

Why is the right losing everywhere?

The UK is now the only major European power or Anglosphere country ruled by conservatives.

By George Eaton

For years the centre left only led the world in decline. Far from being a “progressive moment”, social democrats were routed in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis as the populist right advanced. Left parties, it was said, had fallen prey to the curse of “Pasokification” (a term coined in reference to Greece’s vanquished Pasok, which was reduced from 160 seats in 2009 to just 13 in 2015). Today, however, it is the centre right that appears imperilled. Australian Labor’s first general election victory for nearly a decade fits a growing trend of progressive advance. Social democrats now hold power in Germany, Spain, Portugal, New Zealand and all five Nordic countries. The US, Canada and France are governed by liberals (and ...

3 days ago

Sorry, but voters don’t care about Rishi Sunak’s net worth

The left is pushing a closed door.

By Henry Hill

Rishi Sunak has become the first major politician to make it into the annual Sunday Times rich list. It is the dream story for parts of the left that are fond of attacking Conservative politicians for being rich and "out of touch". However, in reality, the event is much less politically significant than a lot of people are sure to believe. No matter how many times it’s attempted, the result is always the same. Such stories might compound a negative impression that the public already has of a politician, but if they don't view the politician negatively, then for the most part the it just doesn’t care. Boris Johnson is the most obvious case. He makes no pretence of being like you ...

3 days ago

Why the Depp vs Heard trial has been more vicious than Wagatha Christie

Cameras turn the court room into a gladiatorial arena.

By Elise Johnson

Reading about the Wagatha Christie libel trial between Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney has had the the nation enthralled. Some of its quotes – such as when Vardy said under oath, “if I’m honest”, to which Rooney's barrister quipped: “I would hope you’re honest because you’re sitting in a witness box” – have brought much-needed light relief to grim news cycles.  However, this has led to unpleasantness against them on social media. It might feel like a media circus to us reading it, but we know this must be humiliating for those involved. Yet one saving grace for the “wags” is the fact that this court case hasn’t been televised. They don’t have to be hyper aware of their facial movements. There ...

3 days ago

Can you joke about rape?

We must not deny a voice to victims who deal with their issues by belittling them.

By Meryl O'Rourke

When I was asked by the New Statesman to write a piece in response to Julia Hartley-Brewer’s tweet that she had “laughed at many good jokes about rape”, you might expect that I’d write a blistering refusal to accept rape as comedy. I am a comic who tweets my dismay, constantly, on “actual acts of sexual violence” - the phrase Ms Hartley-Brewer used during the eye of her Twitter tornado to delineate these acts from jokes. While there are times when words do, I believe, lead to violence, I had to reply to the editor: “Well… this is awkward because my solo comedy show (Vanilla – soon available to stream on NextUp) has a 10 minute section where I go ...

4 days ago

Why Boris Johnson can’t escape responsibility for 126 fines

The Met might have bought his lies – but the court of public opinion begs to differ.

By Martin Fletcher

There will be huge relief in Downing Street that Boris Johnson is to receive no more fines for partygate, and at first sight it does appear that the “greased piglet” may have wriggled out of yet another impossibly tight corner. Politics is about expectations after all – and the expectation was that the Metropolitan Police would issue the Prime Minister with two or three more fixed-penalty notices for the eight gatherings that occurred during the draconian lockdowns he imposed on the country during the Covid pandemic.  However, the Met did not do so – because it appears to have bought his excuse that No 10 was where he lived. Helen Ball, the Met’s acting deputy commissioner, said a determining factor in deciding ...

4 days ago

Prevent is Islamophobic by design, not accident

As a teacher, I see how Muslimness itself is deemed a risk factor for radicalisation.

By Nadeine Asbali

Muslims in Britain are almost used to being criminalised. Our subjugation is entrenched in law, our marginalisation woven into policy. We are surveilled and policed by every institution: in the nation’s hospitals, airports and schools. The Prevent strategy turns public sector workers -- who should be keeping us safe, treating us when we are ill and getting us through exams -- into counter-terror spies. Our very Muslimness makes us a threat. Prevent, which was created in 2007 to safeguard those vulnerable to radicalisation, has long been criticised by Muslims and their allies. In February this year a People’s Review of Prevent -- an alternative to the upcoming Shawcross review, a government-commissioned inquiry -- was published, concluding that the programme is “discriminatory ...

5 days ago

Why it’s a bad time to give police officers stun guns

Pseudo post-mortems can be used to detract from the role of Tasers in deaths in police custody.

By Jules Montague

On 17 May Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, announced that part-time, volunteer special constables will be allowed to use electroshock weapons, ie stun guns, one of several measures included in “Operation Sceptre”, a government campaign promoting crime-fighting. This is cause for concern for several reasons. For one thing, there was already a 37 per cent increase in the use of stun guns in England and Wales in 2019-20 compared with the previous year. The company Taser says that its devices have saved 257,195 people “from death or serious bodily injury” in situations in which firearms could otherwise have been used. However, Amnesty International says that in practice -- in the US at least -- stun guns are rarely used an alternative to firearms. Since 2000 more ...

6 days ago

Don’t give us “menstrual leave”, destigmatise sick leave

Employers won’t hire a woman who might need three extra days off a month.

By Emma Haslett

Three weeks ago I woke up early, got ready for work – then began vomiting. My period had started and, an hour after I woke, the pain was so bad I couldn’t move. I had experienced this level of agony before – when I was in labour: paracetamol didn’t touch the sides; over-the-counter codeine provided only slight relief. So I emailed my boss to say I had a “stomach thing”, then spent the day in bed, throwing up occasionally and staring into space, unable to eat or sleep or even turn over without groaning in pain. A few days later, I happened to have a scan scheduled, and the consultant found a cyst so big it was completely obscuring my right ...