March, 2020

“democracies are always going to start off behind the curve of a disease like this one”

David Runciman on what the Covina-19 crisis reveals about democracy, politics, power and order: Under a lockdown, democracies reveal what they have in common with other political regimes: here too politics is ultimately about power and order. But we are also getting to see some of the fundamental differences. It is not that democracies are nicer, kinder, gentler places. They may try to be, but in the end that doesn’t last. Democracies do, though, find it harder to make the really tough choices. Pre-emption – the ability to tackle a problem before it becomes acute – has never been a…

Read More

"This coronavirus reminds us that we belong to the material world."

George Monbiot on the Covid-19 wake-up call: …this could be the moment when we begin to see ourselves, once more, as governed by biology and physics, and dependent on a habitable planet. Never again should we listen to the liars and the deniers. Never again should we allow a comforting falsehood to trounce a painful truth. No longer can we afford to be dominated by those who put money ahead of life. This coronavirus reminds us that we belong to the material world.

Read More

Boris “seemed to have totally lost the plot”

Jim Crace excellent political sketch on Boris and the boys’ performance: It’s not just Boris Johnson’s fundamental lack of plausibility that is the problem. At Thursday evening’s daily Downing Street press conference, he seemed to have totally lost the plot. After a few days of trying to do “serious face” he had reverted to his default end-of-the-pier-show act; the Archie Rice who could no longer even entertain himself. Back were all the familiar smirks, knowing nods and third-rate gags. He sounded tonally deaf, totally at odds with the mood of the nation. When the country wants a man of substance,…

Read More

Why we’ve not had more female Robins

Knowledgeable piece about Robin and – correctly – asking why there are so few female Robins: Why we’ve not had more female Robins – or better served ones – is a symptom of a much wider problem. Of the 11 writers announced as contributing to DC’s upcoming anniversary issue for Robin, only two are women: Devin Grayson and Amy Wolfram. Between January and March last year, women accounted for 16% of the credits on comics released by DC; of writers, only 13% were women. The studio celebrated 80 years of Batman last year, but in that time not a single…

Read More

“If the government wants schools to stay open, we need far more support”

Heartfelt piece by headteacher Jules White in today’s Guardian Schools need more cleaners to complete regular hygiene work and deep cleans if there is a short-term closure. So give us access to agencies who must prioritise schools… Sats tests in primary schools should be abandoned in the current circumstances. We must also consider children of real disadvantage: schools are often their place of sanctuary and constancy…. Urgent help is required for children who have to deal with disability. Schools need emergency resources to help these most vulnerable young people, and now.

Read More

“a dangerous British trait”

Nesrine Malik argues that the British government’s exceptionalist approach to the Covid-19 crisis should be scrutinised and not simply followed because of British deference: It is a dangerous British trait to fall obediently into line behind those in power when things are uncertain. When the chips are down, a class system redux kicks in. The laws of the hierarchy must be observed. It is a sort of tyranny of politeness and deference that suspends judgment. I’ve certainly heard and read some very odd justifications for the British government’s approach to tackling the virus. I’m not convinced “Wash your hands and…

Read More

“opportunity to build a more robust society”

Farhad Manjoo in the New York Times suggests that the Coronavirus pandemic could lead to fixes to society: “As the coronavirus spiders across the planet, I’ve been thinking about the illness as a very expensive stress test for the global order — an acute, out-of-nowhere shock that is putting pressure on societies at their weakest points. Some nations, like Iran and perhaps Italy, are teetering under the threat; others, like South Korea, are showing remarkable resilience. The best ones will greet the crisis as an opportunity to build a more robust society, even better prepared for a future unseen danger….

Read More

Grinding to a Halt

Educational Inequality. Fiona Miller in The Guardian: The process of narrowing gaps in educational attainment due to class background is grinding to a halt and will now take 560 years to close, according to the Education Policy Institute

Read More