It can be hard to keep up with the news. That’s why we do the hard work for you, making sure everything is written up each Sunday ‘For The Record’.
Overall, it’s been a quiet week for local news.
The deputy first minister, John Swinney, said that students not being able to return home for Christmas was a ‘realistic possibility’, but that the Scottish Government were working to avoid that. This echoes what the University has said recently, and underlines the need to fill in the survey recently launched by Association President Dan Marshall.
Covid tiers were the main story for Scotland. The week started as MSPs debated the new measures, before they were set out in full by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Thursday. Currently, Fife is being put into Tier 2, escaping stricter Tier 3 regulations imposed on neighbouring Edinburgh and Dundee.
For most of us, this won’t change much in our daily lives, as the rules largely continue the restrictions set out a few weeks ago. There are minor changes to hospitality; restaurants are allowed to serve alcohol indoors with a meal, for example.
As usual, coronavirus blew the other stories out of the water. Even in a week of shocking political developments, we ended up with a Covid top story.
This is of course the news that yesterday, after repeated delays and once the whole policy had already been leaked to the press, Boris Johnson announced a second national lockdown in England. The measure will start on Thursday, after a Wednesday vote in the House of Commons, and last until at least 2nd December. However, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said today that the restrictions could last longer; simultaneously, the government agreed to review the effectiveness of the lockdown partway through.
Previous Covid headlines now feel redundant, but we ought to consider at least a few. This week total cases passed the one million mark, as total deaths surpassed 60,000. Troubling research suggesting that antibodies fall after 6 months, and the news that Covid is spreading faster than the Governments ‘reasonable worst-case scenario’, also made headlines. Various regions also changed tiers of restrictions – since England is now heading into national measures, we’ll leave this aside.
Now, on to the shocking politics of the week. First, cross-party privileges committee chair Chris Bryant teased the idea that Parliament could get legal powers to summon witnesses. This was nothing compared to the political maelstrom on Thursday.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) released its long-awaited report on an investigation into alleged antisemitism in the Labour Party. The watchdog found Labour responsible for “unlawful” harassment and discrimination during former leader Jeremy Corbyn’s tenure. Current leader Keir Starmer called it a ‘day of shame’ and pledged to enact the report’s recommendations in full.
That wasn’t the end of it, though.
Corbyn made a statement to the press where he partially accepted the reports findings; however, he also said allegations had been “dramatically overstated” for political purposes. After failing to retract the statement, he was suspended from the Labour Party pending investigation. It should be noted – just six months ago, Corbyn was party leader. Now, he isn’t even a party member (pending investigation).
Rounding out this segment, let’s take a look at some notable topical headlines:
Immigration: Seven arrested after oil tanker ‘hijacking’
In Europe, the main story is Covid, yet again. France and Germany both entered national lockdowns this week, beating the UK to the punch and probably influencing Johnson’s decision. Austria and Portugal announced new restrictions today, too, following new rules in Italy and Russia earlier in the week.
Another big story in Europe: France’s defence of freedom of speech – specifically, the right to draw the Prophet Muhammed – in the wake of terrorist attacks has sent shockwaves around the Islamic world. The actions of President Macron following a terror attack in Nice, where three Christians were stabbed to death, led Turkey to call for a boycott of French products.
Other problems made headlines – an earthquake between Greece and Turkey caused many deaths and injuries, while Poland’s controversial ruling on abortions led to a ‘women’s strike’ and the biggest-ever protest against the government.
In North America, the only narrative was the election. With less than 3 days to go, the candidates – Republican President Donald Trump and Democrat challenger Joe Biden – are dashing across the country to campaign in battleground states, particularly in the rust belt. FiveThirtyEight currently gives Biden a 90% chance of success, and he currently holds over an 8 point national lead in their polling average. With two states – Hawaii and Texas – already outvoting their 2016 totals just in early voting, turnout is set to break records – another good sign for Democrats. However, the polls were wrong before. Whether they will be wrong enough to land Trump a second term (or whether ‘extraconstitutional shenanigans’ will do the same) is yet to be seen.
British headlines from Asia, Africa, South America and Oceania lacked a central narrative. Instead, we present some of the most interesting stories below:
Central Asia: Kazakhstan embraces Borat catchphrase ‘very nice’
South America: Jubilation as Chile votes to rewrite constitution