Another seven days, another topsy turvy week with astonishing things that leave you in awe. But enough about Aidan O’Brien and Kanye West (for good and bad reasons respectively) – it’s time to get onto this week’s column.
First things first, congratulations are in order, as the editor of these columns – David Stewart – has been appointed Head Of Media for Star Sports. David has been brilliant for the company during my whole time here and played a big part in the successes of the 2019 General Election campaign, something for which he doesn’t get enough credit, and I’m looking forward to being involved in some of the very exciting things that’ll be there to come over the rest of the year.
More congratulations are in order to many of the journalists – often featured in the Reads and Listens Of The Week here – who are now award winners. A hearty congratulations to these 30 under 30 Gold Award winners:
🏆 Marianna Spring (Gold award, Tech)
🏆 Rianna Croxford (Gold award, News)
🏆 Sophia Smith Galer (Culture, Entertainment, Lifestyle)
🏆 Nadine White (Best Covid-19 Coverage)
🏆 Shehab Khan (Politics)
Reads Of The Week:
There has been a huge amount of debate about free speech this year, and on Tuesday, Harper’s Magazine published an open letter decrying a growing intolerance for free speech on the left. This, by Elizabeth Picciuto, is the most detailed, comprehensive and considered response I’ve read to it by an absolute mile:
For some reason, Kyle Picknell watched the last 16 Champions League finals back to back, and created this masterpiece. If you get lost in it – as I did –you’ll have a magical time.
Rishi Sunak has been the headline figure in politics recently, and his big summer statement was yet another historical moment in a year which seems to break precedent with every hour. Paul Waugh has consistently managed to make sense of all these announcements and his debrief from yesterday is as good as any in trying to digest what happened (and what might happen in the future).
This has also been a huge week for Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds – who has one of the most important roles in British politics – and the New Statesman’s Alibhe Rea (who has featured here before with an excellent in depth interview of her) has produced a fine analysis of how she fared.
Also worth looking at from the New Statesman is this insightful look into how agency work and a lack of sick pay combined to expose care home workers and residents, from Anoosh Chakelian and Patrick Scott:
Listen of The Week:
There are about a million and one political podcasts, so anyone launching a political discussion show is up against it. However, the Midfield Politics Podcast has quickly made an excellent impression upon yours truly and is now in my regular listening schedule (which is fit to burst). Luke James and Zak Green have an excellent chemistry which brings through the best in some big political topics.
Word Of The Week:
‘Karen’ (noun) – Definition (and not mine!): The stereotypical name associated with rude, obnoxious and insufferable middle aged white women.
“Did you see that Twitter video about Karens? I thought it was a disgrace.”
Tweet Of The Week:
Cancel culture will continue until morale improves
— 'Client Journalism' Expert (@ClientJournoExp) July 9, 2020
For Mask’s Sake
Here’s a fun question for you. What links the Prime Minister, Leader Of The Opposition, Home Secretary, Health Secretary and Shadow Chancellor?
Let me answer for you. They’ve all been pictured in public, with several others, whilst indoors, without masks. I’m not the only person to have noticed this, but it was particularly galling to see Rishi Sunak promoting a restaurant discount, service food and coming close to diners without a mask in sight.
Aside from the obvious risks – I’m sure that Sunak is aware of how easy it is to catch COVID, working in Westminster – this brings us back to that ever so frustrating factor – communication.
Mask wearing is frustratingly low in this country. According to a report from the Royal Society, in late April, only about 25% of people in the UK wore face coverings, compared to 83.4% in Italy, 65.8% in the United States and 63.8% in Spain.
That is excruciating to read on two fronts. The first is that we still have a consistent rate of infection, and we know that the large amount of that is from asymptomatic people (80% of positive tests, according to the ONS surveys).
The other is that of the simple and most affordable weapons we have in this pandemic is the mask, which is proven to reduce transmission.
I could bore you to death with evidence, but I’ll use two examples. The first is this worldwide study:
The second is taken from an article by Nina Bai from the UCSF, but it makes the point brilliantly.
“In one case, a man flew from China to Toronto and subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. He had a dry cough and wore a mask on the flight, and all 25 people closest to him on the flight tested negative for COVID-19. In another case, in late May, two hair stylists in Missouri had close contact with 140 clients while sick with COVID-19. Everyone wore a mask and none of the clients tested positive.”
It’s even more clear than Frankel at the bushes that masks reduce transmission of the virus, yet you cannot find a senior English politician (Nicola Sturgeon has been wearing one regularly) masking up – and of all places, inside.
Answers on a postcard please (or a mask, if you could).
At The Cutting Edge
The BBC – like every organisation – is facing a massive financial crush. The BBC has previously said it must save £125m this year because of financial pressures resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, and 450 jobs are set to go.
That means unfortunately that some programmes will have to be lost, and there have recently been reports that Politics Live will either stay as a once a week programme for PMQ’s – or even that it might go altogether.
This has brought an outpouring of support for the programme, and rightly so, given that it has managed to hold multiple figures to account from all parties, whilst providing a voice to a wider range of views than other BBC programmes (whether on TV or radio) including backbench MP’s who aren’t often seen on other headline programmes.
The programme also has a strong audience with women and BAME viewers (two of the audiences the BBC worries about most) whilst it’s effective at giving a voice to younger people in their filmmaking, and It would be a strange move for the BBC to cut or axe a programme that has a strong audience figure for weekdays and approval from both people on the left and right, which is all too rare in British broadcasting.
It’s also worth saying that having Politics Live on as a once a week programme would also be a big loss, as PMQ’s (understandably) dominates the programme and also reduces the space for other voices, especially non MP’s – let’s hope it can be saved.
You’ll have heard a lot about cancel culture recently. I could go on and on with that, but I don’t think any thread makes a better summary of the situation than this, from Tom Savage. Please take the time to read down the thread, if you click through:
If you make your money in the public eye, then you run the risk of being "cancelled" in the same way that a restaurant will lose business if they're found to be unhygienic.
— T O M S A V A G E (@MajorTomSavage) July 9, 2020
▪️ Question: Would Serpentine have won the Derby from Stall one? (bit niche for those of you who don’t follow but stall one is something like 0 from 149 in 12F races at Epsom in double figure fields) – But Serpentine won by miles Jim, Scotland (via Email)
Answer: Excellent question! I’m inclined to think – having had the benefit of many a fine sectional debrief from the Derby – that Serpentine’s effort is a legitimate one, even if he was helped by an exceptional ride and an advantageous pace set up. Stall 1 wouldn’t have been ideal for getting to the lead the way he did, but if the race was run the same way then it’s hard to see him losing the ground that he made up down the hill – so I’ll say yes.
▪️ Question: If you had to give up one of the following for the rest of your life what would it be? Bacon or Beer Ian, Norwich (via Email)
Answer: Bacon no question.
Thanks for reading, and if you have any thoughts, anything at all – please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org !
Views of authors do not necessarily represent views of Star Sports Bookmakers.