Philip Stephens, the chief political commentator of the Financial Times, informs a wonderful story about how he was playing football in the play ground at school– in those days play area football was with tennis balls– and a ball struck the Latin master as he was passing.
The Latin master immediately clipped Stephens round the ears– which, these days, would no doubt have caused the master’s termination. Stephens opposed: “It wasn’t me, sir.” To which the reply was: “Let this be a lesson to you, my young boy. There is no justice in this world.”
This story does not appear in Stephens’s brand-new book, Britain Alone– a spectacular account of this benighted country’s downhill path from the enlightened policies of the Attlee federal government to Suez and after that Brexit. But as we continue to experience the mounting scaries of Brexit, Stephens’s anecdote enters your mind: we are undergoing the worst government in living memory, run by a prime minister for whom just time-servers and the deluded have any respect.
And yet: there is no justice in this world! The media are thick with speculation that the meaningless bungling that has characterised Johnson’s technique to the Plague counts as nothing when it pertains to the apparent success of the vaccine program. Obviously the program has actually been impressive up until now. However its success has more to do with scientific and medical specialists than with Johnson– or, for that matter, with his partner Michael “individuals have had enough of professionals” Gove, who has undoubtedly been kicked aside from further settlements aimed at figuring out the Brexit debacle.
And for whom has Gove been set aside, you might ask? Well none other than the hard Brexiter David, now Lord, Frost, who made such a hash of the exit “deal” that an increasing number of small- and medium-sized businesses are now wondering whether they have any industrial future. Frost’s diplomatic profession was expected to have actually peaked when he was ambassador to Denmark. He then worked for the Scotch Whisky Association prior to being restored into federal government. I wonder what the Scotch Whisky Association makes from the impact his offer has had on its export service?
Stephens’s book has actually been excoriated by rightwing reviewers, no doubt since it lays bare the duplicity of the whole Brexit motion– not least in its fascination with possible new trade deals as opposed to the deals we currently had. Then there was the culpable lack of knowledge of what the single market was truly about. As Stephens states, Brexiters had a “worldview in which tariffs were the principal impediment to trade, but the truth was that totally free trading plans relied to a much greater degree on regulatory alignment and shared requirements and standards”.
I have actually even heard wild talk of a breeze election, although I can not see why a prime minister with such a substantial bulk should desire one
And how! Services are discovering this out the tough way. Furthermore, Britain drew most of its overseas income from financial and expert services, which were not subject to tariffs. Then there was the exchequer’s reliance on taxes levied on the financial sector. This was rather ignored by Frost’s deal– a point that our Brexiter chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is going to find is an issue when he attempts to raise taxes (which he most definitely should not do while the economy continues to experience the double whammy of Covid and Brexit).
When one thinks about the combination of Brexit and former chancellor George Osborne’s unrelenting austerity programme, it nearly beggars belief that a civilised country would contemplate re-electing this federal government. I speak as someone who has counted lots of Conservative political leaders, including ministers, amongst my pals throughout the years. Sadly, a lot of are no longer with us; however the course on which their when good celebration has actually embarked need to be making them kip down their graves.
There are legions of examples of how austerity made the Plague so devastating. Do you keep in mind the panic over hospitals? Well, according to Eurostat, in 2018 the UK had 250 readily available healthcare facility beds per 100,000 inhabitants, compared with 591 in France and 800 in Germany. Not surprising that there was panic.
Yet the federal government is doing much better in the surveys than it deserves, and the leader of the opposition, Keir Starmer, is under attack from all sides. I have even heard wild talk of a snap election on the back of V for Vaccine Triumph, although for the life of me I can not see why a prime minister with such a big bulk must desire an election so soon.
However, if there is something to be careful of it is the view that, with unprecedented levels of public costs, the Conservatives have actually taken Labour’s clothing. They may have obtained them, but this is a hardline rightwing government at heart. I find it tough to believe that the modern-day Tory party has truly had a Damascene conversion. Let us hope that, in the nationwide interest, Starmer can get his act together.