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Inside politics

The hillbilly heir to Trumpism

JD Vance has entered the Senate race in Ohio. AP Photo/Jeff Dean

Author JD Vance could be Donald Trump’s unlikely successor, says Freddy Gray in GQ. The 37-year-old grew up poor in Ohio and wrote a “moving” memoir, Hillbilly Elegy, about his childhood as the son of a junkie single mother. Now he’s eyeing the upcoming Senate race in Ohio. The former marine is being bankrolled by Trump’s old donors and has even made a pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago to discuss things with the Donald.

Vance doesn’t have the former president’s magnetic silliness – his forays into Twitter trolling seem a bit calculated – and he has criticised Trump in the past, an unforgiveable heresy for many Republicans. Married with two children, he makes an eloquent case for working-class conservatism and could build a more thoughtful, and maybe more successful, Trumpism.

Our obsession with animals

Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images

Britain is “notoriously obsessed with animals”, says Imogen West-Knights in the I newspaper. In 2016 a petition to “Give status to Police Dogs and Horses as ‘Police Officers’” amassed more than 120,500 signatures and was debated in Parliament. In the 2011 census, 16% of households listed their dogs as family members.

This “terminal” fixation has reached its height with the saga of Geronimo the alpaca: Environment Secretary George Eustice and the PM’s spokesman have had to wade in, while Keir Starmer’s most decisive statement all year has been “soberly advocating for the swift execution of some woman’s pet”.

China’s new lackey

It’s distressing to see the South China Morning Post “bending over backwards” to Beijing, says Giles Whittell in Tortoise. The Hong Kong newspaper used to call out the repression and censorship of the mainland, but one recent editorial gushed that “Beijing has shown the way ahead”. As it happens, the SCMP is “owned by Alibaba, whose founder, Jack Ma, was read the riot act last year for daring to criticise Chinese business regulators. Go figure.”

Boris loses his lustre

Boris Johnson’s problems are piling up, says Katy Balls in The Spectator. Britain has been overtaken by France in the vaccination league table and focus groups complain that the PM is a “one-trick pony” Brexiteer. A series of reviews on levelling up, net zero and connecting the union are due to be published, but they all just add up to “alphabet soup”, one minister complains. There is, at least, progress being made on the mascot for the COP26 summit in Glasgow. “According to one insider, it resembles a ‘demented seal’.”