May 3, 2024 - 6:25pm

→ Lab-grown meat: the new culture war

Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis banned the sale of lab-grown meat this week, showcasing the bizarre contours of America’s cultural realignment.

In the bill, fear-mongering over the World Economic Forum’s dastardly plot to reform our diets meets good old-fashioned economic protectionism, with DeSantis’s press release calling lab-grown meat “disgraceful” and an affront to “proud traditions”. Democratic Senator John Fetterman reluctantly praised the move, adding that he would “never serve that slop to my kids”.

Libertarians and techno-optimists were unsurprisingly distraught. It’s just the latest in populists’ war on capitalism and innovation, and a rejection of human ingenuity, they argued. Bill Gates, noted lab meat supporter, said to be hardest hit.

→ Swedish Quran burning goes ahead

Europe may once again have to brace itself for a free speech and blasphemy row, as the Swedish city of Malmo today hosts a Quran-burning event. Local authorities granted permission for the demonstration, taking place days before Malmo hosts the Eurovision Song Contest, but both Muslim and non-Muslim religious leaders have objected on grounds of inciting hatred and provoking disorder.

The organisers behind the burning reportedly have a history of leading similar events across Sweden, while there were several Quran-burning incidents in the country last year as well as in neighbouring Denmark. While Copenhagen then passed a law in December banning deliberate desecrations of the Muslim holy book in public spaces, Sweden is yet to follow suit.

The upcoming edition of Eurovision involves Israel, a decision which has provoked criticism across the continent and protests in the host country. Malmo has now been rated as a moderate terrorist threat in anticipation of violent responses. The strong reaction to a far more innocuous Quran incident in Yorkshire last year suggests the same danger would be present in Britain

→ Women’s Equality Party bests Reform UK

In a surprising outcome in this week’s local elections, the Women’s Equality Party has its first ever elected councillor — and not even a former prime minister could get in the way. Stacy Hart’s victory in Hatch Warren & Beggarwood came days after Theresa May canvassed for the Tory candidate in the constituency. What’s more, it means the WEP has one more elected councillor than Reform UK, whose council representatives have otherwise defected from other parties — despite Richard Tice’s party polling at 16% nationally.

Reform ran over 300 candidates in the local election, but its main concern for the night was the Blackpool South by-election where it finished third, trailing the Conservatives by a tiny 117 votes. Would a Reform-WEP electoral pact shift the dial?