Diane Abbott (1992); photograph © Geoff Wilson/National Portrait Gallery This essay, on the debate about Diane Abbott’s views on race and the Holocaust, was my Observer column this …


If we want to nurture again the kind of radical universalism that once imbued antiracism, we need not just to challenge arguments such as Abbott’s, important though that is. We need also to challenge the malevolent claims promoted by the likes of Jenrick and Braverman, and which carry with them the weight of state enforcement. To challenge the one but not the other is performative signalling at its worst.

Why republicans should still care about the coronation

OPINION: Charles’ crowning as king will encourage millions to keep marching to the beat of Britain’s posh boys

Source: Why republicans should still care about the coronation

Many of Britain’s comparative weaknesses – its economic malaise, its regional inequalities, its peoples’ sense of political alienation – are connected to its over-centralised state. In most democratic countries, ‘sovereignty’ ultimately lies with the people. In Britain, it works the other way around.

Sovereignty is centralised in the crown, administered by Parliament. It doesn’t rise up from citizens but flows down from the monarch, like urine. Local, regional and even devolved national governments can be overruled or marginalised by Westminster in ways that wouldn’t be legal in a federal country.

The coronation of a new sovereign is a vast celebration of this disastrous centralisation of power. It is a glorification of our failing system.

Pacific trade deal: don’t fall for Brexiter lies

Brexiters are claiming that the Asia-Pacific trade deal the government signed today, the CPTPP, makes rejoining the EU “impossible”. This has got some rejoiners concerned. But don’t worry: it’s an absolute lie. The first and most important thing to know is that the UK can pull out of CPTPP at any time – it just […]

Source: Pacific trade deal: don’t fall for Brexiter lies

What does “antivaccine” really mean since the pandemic hit?

We frequently use terms like “antivaccine,” “antivax,” and “antivaxxers.” Critics think it’s a “gotcha” to ask how we define “antivax” or to accuse us of reflexively label “questioning” of vaccines as “antivax.” I’s not. There are gray areas, but not so gray that the word is never appropriate. Has anything changed since I first tried to define “antivaccine” in 2010? The answer:…

Source: What does “antivaccine” really mean since the pandemic hit?

Finally, remember that, now as then, anti-vaccine movement is a denialist movement, very similar to deniers of anthropogenic climate change, science-based medicine, and evolution. As such, it uses the same fallacious strategies and distortions of science to promote its agenda and reacts the same way to criticism. Similarly, the antivaccine movement is also far more about ideology than it is about science, which is why it remains so stubbornly resistant to reason and science. Finding an effective means to counter its message will likely require developing effective general strategies to counter science denialist movements of all types, including and emphasis, in particular medical conspiracy theories, which the antivaccine movement is but one that is a subset of all the sort of conspiracy theories that undergird all science denial.

Sadly, as much as certain aspects of what “antivaccine” means have changed, such as the politics and the global infrastructure that promotes distrust of vaccines, the central core has remained largely the same, and that core was a variant of a conspiracy theory in 2010 and remains so in 2022.

Show FIFA’s moral relativism the red card

Human rights defenders are perfectly entitled to ignore FIFA’s plea to ‘focus on the football’ and use the World Cup to shine a spotlight on Qatar’s regressive regime, says Stephen Evans.

Source: Show FIFA’s moral relativism the red card

Urban foxes: are they ‘fantastic’ or a growing menace?

When Larry the cat chased off a vulpine visitor from No 10 last week, many of us cheered him on. But others argue the fox deserves its place, both in our folklore and in our cities…

Instead of demonising them, says Scott, we should remember that we have already lost so many animals in the wild and then “take a step back and see that foxes are an amazing, beautiful wildlife that we’re lucky to be able to see”.

Forget the urban myths and behold the urban fox!

Source: Urban foxes: are they ‘fantastic’ or a growing menace?

Brexiting on ourselves from a great height: a budgetary Truss-up

In one fell swoop the Truss-Kwarteng ‘fiscal event’ has sent the economy into freefall. What if ‘the lady’s not for turning?’

Source: Brexiting on ourselves from a great height: a budgetary Truss-up

A Salesman’s Trick, Ignoring R0, Shaming, Conspiracy, Premature Declaration, Strategic Omission, and Fanciful Fiction

I can’t stop thinking of a recent analysis that estimated over 300,000 Americans might be alive today had all adults been vaccinated. How did we get here?

My previous articles have examined several techniques these COVID minimizers use to mislead their readers. These include:

  • A salesman’s trick:  Using a number that is larger than the COVID death toll to minimize that death toll.
  • Ignoring R0:  Focusing on the infection fatality rate of COVID while ignoring how contagious it is.
  • Shaming: Shaming people who try not to get COVID or who are bothered by its death toll.
  • Conspiracy:  Claiming the COVID death toll can’t be trusted.
  • Premature declaration: Acting as if the pandemic is over.
  • Strategic omission:  Omitting key facts that are needed to understand some aspect of the pandemic.
  • Fanciful fiction: Just making stuff up.

Source: A Salesman’s Trick, Ignoring R0, Shaming, Conspiracy, Premature Declaration, Strategic Omission, and Fanciful Fiction


This is why, compared to Test cricket, T20 can seem more exciting yet less satisfying. It can electrify but, stripped of the wider storyline that infuses it with meaning, it can also feel soulless.

This is true not just of cricket. At the climax of this year’s Formula One season in Abu Dhabi, a genuinely thrilling showdown between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen descended into controversy and farce thanks to the decision by the race controller to ignore the rulebook and create a one-lap contest in the final lap. It was a stark reminder that contrived thrills rarely satisfy in sport.


Opinion | Is Mark Zuckerberg a Man Without Principles?

A long time ago, I was very close to Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. They both were happy to be bazillionaires. They both were megalomaniacs, in certain ways. They could be very unpleasant, but they had some principles. They had a red line. In my encounters with Mark Zuckerberg, I’ve never been able to discover any principles.

— Walt Mossberg