The commentators 04-12-15
...on Syrian airstrikes
Hilary Benn’s rousing talk of Nazis and General Franco helps not one jot. Moral certainties we have in abundance, but how will they sound if the depressing reality is that ousting Isis can only be done with filthy moral compromise with Iran, Vladimir Putin and murderous Bashar al-Assad? You can feel the familiar tug, the emotional call of fife and drum. How good the cause always sounds. The enemy is so unspeakable that to do nothing is unthinkable. This time Isis is probably the best enemy since Hitler for rousing us to defend of our civilisation against barbarism: they attack us here
- Polly Toynbee, The Guardian
In his fifteen minutes of fame, Hilary Benn spoke like the sort of person who believes in his own right to rule – and that’s hugely appealing to a political and media elite that is cut from the same cloth, and that, moreover, has cast Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as some sort of upstart interloper. This is bascially how Westminster image-management works: the people who deem themselves entitled to define “leadership” pass this codified information onto the rest of us in an assured way, so that we end up seeking out and approving the same characteristics
- Rachel Shabi, The Independent
We should play a full part in joining our allies in fighting Izal, including bombing Syria and sending in special forces to hunt down and kill its leadership. But what bothers me is the way in which this has been reported in such narrow terms. Once again, everything has been refracted through the Westminster Bubble. What does it mean for Jeremy Corbyn? Is Hilary Benn now odds-on favourite to take over when Corbyn implodes? Are Labour MPs who voted with the Government going to be deselected by constituency activists? Did Dave insult naysayers by accusing them of siding with terrorist sympathisers? Frankly, who gives a monkey’s?
- Richard Littlejohn, Daily Mail
The vote will not change the situation in Syria very much. The politics of Britain, and the other democracies, are a long way from accepting the protracted civil involvement in other nations that is the obvious concomitant of military adventure. The world has lost the capacity even to think like this and the debate is bound to be parochial. As long as that remains so, debates on foreign policy will be more about us than they truly are about the world. In that sense, MPs were speaking for England after all
- Philip Collins, The Times
Everyone agrees the debate on whether to bomb showed our democracy at its finest. To start with, David Cameron called on all his command of history, Etonian diplomacy and wit to call his opponents “terrorist sympathisers”. Then, if anyone objected, he replied: “Look, we must move on.” This is debating at the highest level, and it would be marvellous to see Cameron try this method in pubs on the council estates of Peckham
- Mark Steel, The Independent
Only a few years ago, the puff would have been chucked out the moment the scale of a story like this became apparent, partly as a matter of taste and partly to maximise the potential for display and give the story room to breathe.
Last night only the Telegraph dispensed with the blurb - and that decision may have been influenced by the oversized ad at the foot of the page. The Times had signed up Bake-Off's Nadiya and wasn't about to surrender a millimetre of her promo. The Guardian was similarly wedded to its taste of autumn and the Mail to its Lego toy... but journalism was still the winner
How the papers covered the Paris attacks
Comment Awards, 2015
Teenage ebola diarist honoured
Tuesday 24 November, 2015
A 13-year-old girl whose diary of life during the ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone made the Observer splash became the youngest winner at the EI Comment Awards in London today.
Bintu Sannoh was named young commentariat of the year for this piece about the crisis and two further articles about the stigma and poverty and hunger that came in the wake of the disease. Six months later she was able to return to school - but she writes about how everything had changed, with only a third of pupils having survived.
Janan Ganesh emerged the sole double winner of the morning as the Financial Times took pride of place at the ceremony at the RIBA headquarters. He won the top accolade of commentariat of the year, having earlier been named political commentator of 2015.
His paper won the award for the best comment pages, Gillian Tett was business commentator and Michael Skapinker won the new prize for business ethics commentary.
The Times also claimed a clutch of prizes: David Aaronovitch was honoured for comment piece of the year for this article after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, Jenni Russell won the new diversity award, Hugo Rifkind was arts and culture commentator and Sathnam Sanghera media commentator (in succession to SubScribe).
Other winners included Simon Jenkins, Gary Younge and Cory Doctorow of the Guardian, Allister Heath of the Telegraph, Channel 4, and the science writer Philip Ball.
The chairman's award went to Andrew Rawnsley, of the Observer, while the Sun punctured the domination of the broadsheets (even if few of them are physically broadsheets these days) by winning the eiDigest special award for its leader column.
SubScribe was honoured and surprised to find a place on the individual blogger shortlist, but delighted to see the award go to Matthew Scott, whose excellent Barrister Blogger can be seen here
You can see all the winners here and the full shortlists here.
Comment archive, 2015
Labour and Syria
Syrian air strikes
Russia in Syria
Strategic defence review
Britain and Europe
Sinai jet crash
Lords v Commons
Xi Jinping visit
Xi Jinping's visit
Virginia TV shootings
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