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Enter man of the moment, Jeremy Hunt.
Jeremy Hunt is yet another very wealthy man, who really doesn’t need to be there in the centre of government. Like Liz Truss, Nadhim Zadhawi or Rishi Sunak, he would be able to ‘work from home’, and still draw a handsome salary from various options and dividends. He doesn’t need to lift a finger to ‘help’ the country. He already had plenty of scope to stop social care from haemorrhaging, or to stop the decline of the NHS by introducing a workforce plan. The fact that Jeremy Hunt declined to do so, despite plenty of opportunity, whilst waging war with the junior doctors, still speaks volumes. There is an absurd irrational hope that ‘holding the pursestrings’ to the Treasury he might be able to stop the depravity of NHS and social care funding. Judging on his past performance, I wouldn’t hold your beer.
OK, in the words of Tories doing their faux humility routine, I ‘get it’. Liz Truss said all along that she felt that by reducing the tax load on everyone, she could suddenly magic up growth. Her intention was stated explicitly as getting rid of the NJ levy and by stopping the Sunak increase in corporation tax, I think this stratehy is bananas, but she explained it on many occasions for the hustings she did over many weeks. This was not a surprise. It was her economic policy. She did not ‘go rogue’ at the last minute. The decision to appoint Kwasi Kwarteng came right at the end – but he did not ‘go rogue’ either. His economic ‘scorch and burn’ credentials were known for a long time. The approach was articulated in ‘Britannia unchained’. It was not a surprise that, as a person who had been active in Eton and the Cambridge Union, Kwarteng might be ruthlessly ambitious – a bit like his Oxford Union contemporaries described as ‘Chums’ in the Boris Johnson circle.
The media ‘lobby’ had all the opportunity in the world to dissect this approach. None of them chose to. I am not even sure that any of them are especially literate in macroeconomics;. As far as I know, the leading lights in the Institue of Economic Affairs are largely illiterate in economics too. And yet they profess to be big experts – exactly what is bringing Britain into decline. Michael Gove culturally made a massive mistake in denigrating experts, but maybe this was simply a Trumpian malign influence. None of ‘the lobby’ seemed capable of pointing out that the sums did not add up – borrowing, tax spending or public spending. Sunak knew, but wasn’t given the oxygen to explain himself. No wonder he is keeping his counsel now.
As you can see, I am launching into a ‘blame game’ – this is not particularly helpful now, but simply makes me feel good for ‘doing something about’ the reputation of Great Britain being trashed internationally. The words used to describe Britain now range from ‘farce’ to ‘basket case’. Previously, the ‘lobby’ had put this down to a very focal vendetta from the New York Times, but clearly the game was up when Bloomberg agreed, and then the markets hyperventilated when the ‘not so’ mini-budget was revealed (or rather unravelled). My point is that Liz Truss is a known contrarian. There is nothing there to be especially surprised about. Rishi Sunak was very clear on the arguments, although it is clear that he made some own goals himself, whether it was talking about educational aspiration or ‘levelling up’. The media went for it in attacking him, in their comparisons to Brutus in the Julius Caesar context, or his love of PRADA shoes. None of this post mortem especially helps the person whose standard variable rate mortgage dividends have shot up, or the person who has to put his business for sale as he cannot afford the energy bills. Not all of it can be levelled at Putin. The Tories are a mess.
No amount of bullshit from the Cameron supporters can make up for it. They are all out in force to defend why we had chaos under Cameron rather than competence under Ed Miliband. I feel that the Tories know the game is up, at a number of different levels. There is no sense of national pride, apart from, say, hosting Eurovision. The utilities are indeed now nationalised, except that they are owned by private equity abroad making unconscionable profits at the expense of the tax payer. Public services are not ‘world beating’. In fact, waits to see a GP, despite GPs leaving in droves due to the monstering they receive from hate incitement from the media, or to get to hospital in an ambulance if you have a heart attack, “are a disgrace” as Truss would put it.
There is absolutely no point having low taxes, if public services are on their knees. The Tories have zero reputation in either competence or integrity. I have always felt that their reputation for economic competence was a complete myth. Even now shills from the IEA refuse to acknowledge that the 2008 economic crash was global. They mislead on the circumstances where the IMF loan, quickly repaid, was given at the tail end of the Labour administration under Callaghan in the 1970s. Boris Johnson c completely obliterated the integrity image of the Conservatives. This was, as we were kept ob being told, was ‘factored in’, with him having previously made racist comments along the lines of ‘piccannies’. Partygate only confirmed what we knew along. His government’s approach to care homes spoke volumes, as did his vigorous shaking of hands at the beginning of the pandemic. The Tories saw him as a ‘winner’, but the votes were ‘lent’ on the basis of ‘getting Brexit done’. Brexit has been high risk for no return. There is yet to be a visible benefit from Brexit. Many industries have imploded due to Brexit. The economy is further screwed due to Brexit. Luckily, there is a complete media black out on what is possibly one of the most massive geopolitical and economic disasters in UK history.
The problem is – if you ask Labour what they would do, they religiously and sanctimoniously explain that they are not in government, and they haven’t ‘seen the books’. Labour is trying to look professional as a ‘safe pair of hands”, but many members in the party are equally sick about the fact that they are low on detail on how they might have done things differently. Starmer does not appeal to many, and this could still produce a final reckoning despite a superficial poll lead. It would not be altogether unsurprising if Labour fails to win an overall majority in 2024, and the SNP still command a powerful popular base in Scotland.
Liz Truss’ days are possibly numbered, depending on the success of an ever increasing membership of a collective political suicide pact which now includes Jeremy Hunt. Rishi Sunak for the time being, unsurprisingly, is keeping well away. Expecting Rishi Sunak to come back and clear up somebody else’s mess for the Tory membership would be like handing a dust pan and brush to a vomiting toddler who had just made a massive mess on your expensive rug. The point I’m making is that the Tory membership knew what they were doing when they voted for her, and the Tory parliamentary party knew what they were doing when they offered her aa part of the ‘final two’. The intriguing thing now is that the Liz Truss affair could ‘seal the deal’ for the annihilation of the political career of others.
It could be that this time next week Liz Truss won’t be there. Offering yet another Tory leader with such a dramatic departure from the 2019 general election manifesto would be palpably wrong, and would necessitate a general election.