AN impressive performance by Boris Johnson, care in crisis and the stop-go lockdowns were the issues debated by columnists and contributors in the newspapers.

The Daily Mail

Henry Deedes watched the Prime Minister at question time in the Commons on Wednesday and admitted he was ‘highly competent.’

“Sir Keir Starmer’s decision to side with the scientists and demand another national lockdown is a bold, some might say unnecessary, gamble,” he said. “Not only does it place him at odds with business owners, it allows Boris to slip into his favourite role as the nation’s chief optimist.”

He said we were in high stakes territory.

“Should the nation lock down again in the next fortnight, Sir Keir will hammer Boris,” he said. “If the numbers of infections start to go down under the PM’s strategy, it will be he who is crowing.”

He said the pair had ‘pranced around the despatch box like two ageing Broadway hams barely so much as laying an insult on each other.’

Boris kept calm, he added, there was no ‘guffawing. No ‘Captain Hindsight’ tomfoolery.’

“From the Government benches there was a notable uplift in noise from his backbenchers,” he said. “Probably the nosiest I’ve heard them since numbers in the chamber were reduced. Amazing what a swell in atmosphere does for the PM’s confidence.”

He said Starmer’s last question was to repeat a press clipping saying the Prime Minister wouldbe 80% likely to back a circuit breaker lockdown within two weeks and asked if that was correct.

“Starmer stared ahead, unflinching, unblinking. It was the look of a man who couldn’t even countenance the idea he might possibly be wrong.”

The Guardian

Madeleine Bunting, author of Labours of Love, the Crisis of Care, said that during interviews of everyone from GPs to low-paid health workers they ‘were just as eloquent and impassioned about the fact that the vital, unquantifiable nature of care was being squeezed to the margins.’

“It’s partly a matter of workload but it’s also a deeper, more systemic shift that has been under way for three decades, in which care is reduced to tickboxes in an attempt to standardise this most unpredictable of human activities,” she said.

“Care has been routinised and bureaucratised in pursuit of reductions in human error and abuse. That has been combined with a quest for efficiency, productivity and value for money.”

She said prioritising efficiency over all else was dangerous in two realms of human endeavour - war and care.

“Needless to say, Covid has made this abundantly clear in the latter case,” she added. “Never having fully appreciated the importance and complexity of care – too often it has been dismissed as women’s work, simply a matter of instinct – we have distorted this vital human labour into an often grotesque box-ticking parody.”

She said many care jobs were still done by women.

“ Capitalism seeks to quantify and extract value, and when such disciplines are applied to the care worker, it is a tragedy,” she said. “Because what is at stake is the reciprocity of human hearts, the need for comfort, and our innate human capacity to nurture wellbeing and ease suffering.”

The Independent

Sean O’Grady said perhaps Britain should accept that it is never going to be in possession of a working test and trace system for coronavirus.

“Sure, we’ve made some progress, but nowhere near enough to call our spatchcock, unreliable, slow, piecemeal, patchy system “world beating”,” he said.

“Logically, that ought to mean we should also abandon the lockdowns. This is because lockdowns do not in themselves get rid of coronavirus. They merely freeze the spread of the virus, and buy us some time.”

He said the summer was a ‘fool’s paradise’ - we thought we were winning.

“Prhaps we should get used to our unpredictable stop-go lockdowns, national and local, long and short, until the vaccine comes to our rescue (and developing vaccines is something Britain is relatively good at),” he added.

“The stop-go lockdown, then, is the “new normal”. The next year in other words will be very much like the last six months. We’ll get used to it.”