We are certainly cursed to live in interesting times.
I’m sure there must have been a more challenging period in British politics, but I don’t think it was in my lifetime. Do we have a government? Given the sacking of the 21 rebels, the answer is surely no?
We have a prime minister determined to implement the will of the people in a way that his predecessor never was. But that determination, fuelled by his unelected and unaccountable sidekick Dominic Cummings, is willing to ride roughshod over the niceties of our democratic institutions. However, those rebels and those institutions have fought a rearguard action that seems to have painted Boris into a corner.
The recent court papers in Scotland suggest that the Prime Minister will ask for an extension if Brussels rejects his ‘final’ proposals. Within the Westminster bubble chatter is growing about a caretaker PM leading a ‘government of national unity’. Will BJ become a squatter in Number 10?
There’s a seriously well organised smear campaign in progress against Mr Johnson which should worry you regardless of your political persuasion. Where did this pole dancing American woman come from? Are his neighbours still listening with a wine glass and microphone against the wall?
With Leavers and Remainers tripping over Extinction Rebellion protesters in the streets of Westminster, there’ll be as much chaos outside Parliament as within for the next few weeks. Assuming the EU rejects the new deal and the extension is triggered, presumably Parliament will then agree to an election?
In many ways, the campaign has already started. And it looks likely to become a bidding war as left and right make promises to their chosen cohorts with no thought as to how the bill will be paid. The fiscal fortitude for which the Tories are supposed to be famous has already been thrown out with the bath water. We’re now promised scores of new hospitals, tens of thousands of new police officers (maybe being paid the £30 a year that Diane Abbott calculated?), 5G broadband in every home and lots of cheap energy from fusion reactors that don’t actually exist in a workable form yet.
After a five year vendetta against private landlords I should have learned not be shocked by Blue Labour, but the announcement on the National Living Wage trumps everything else. Sajid Javid used last week’s Party Conference to announce a five year plan to raise what you and I call the minimum wage from £8.21 to £10.50. That would take it from 60% of the median wage to 66%. All very laudable until you look at the impact on business, especially in the healthcare and leisure sectors.
Look at the carnage in the mid-market dining sector. Weybridge is a prosperous town, but a few weeks ago our Cote restaurant closed its doors. Pizza Express is teetering on the brink; Jamie Oliver has already been tipped over the edge. Every care home in South East England has more ‘carers wanted’ signs outside than ‘residents wanted’.
This is a clear attempt to undermine Labour policies aimed at ‘the many, not the few’. With central banks continuing, even stepping up their loose money policy a decade after the financial crisis, the Tories may get away with unfunded spending promises that will bolster a national debt that is already running out of control. You could argue that, if this is what it takes to prevent Britain’s first ever Marxist government, it’s a price worth paying.
But the question it leaves me pondering is, when all the dust has settled, what does the Conservative party actually stand for? Who does it serve? Why does it exist? We know it doesn’t exist for landlords. With some of the spending promises being made, it doesn’t seem to be a friend of business. You have to assume higher taxes to at least cover the interest on the debt mountain. So it’s no friend of savers or the retired.
Assuming we are ever allowed to hold an election, deciding where that cross goes will be one of the toughest calls of my 63 year old life.
Until next time.