I have been in politics for more than half a century, but I cannot remember a time when our Country was in such peril. We have a government which is pursuing a reckless ideology and ignoring all the common-sense considerations that have been put to them not only by their opponents but also by a massive number of experts and organisations.
This was quite clear when they said that their budget last week was not a budget, clearly with the intent of ensuring that the office of Budget Responsibility would not be able to give an opinion on it. That is a bit like Putin saying that the war in Ukraine is not a war!
I have no problem with principles and ideology. Indeed, I have had the same ones for the whole of my 50 years. However, I have always known that those principles need to be turned into policies and then turned in pragmatic programmes. These are the sacred 4ps of political life.
I know where I think that the Country or my City should be but to get us there, we need to consider where we are now and how sensibly to get to the point that we want to be. That is where we need outside help and expertise which might not always be available to us as politicians.
We also need to be aware of our limitations. Sometimes as politicians we only see issues through the absolute prism of our beliefs. This means that we distort our view of where we are because we desperately to get where we want to be. That is the precise position that the Truss Government is in now.
I despise what the Tories are seeking to do. They believe in a low-cost economy in which workers rights and pay are reduced, where there is a massive deregulation of our workplaces and environment to produce short term gain. They believe in a narrow-minded xenophobic country which does not understand the value of working with the rest of the world. They think that speculation is demanding work but being a refuse collector is not. They believe that rewards should only be available to the few and not the many.
Perhaps that can be summed up with their position on income tax. The only people who will benefit from the income tax proposals are those on more than £150,000 per year. The fact is that although we will get a 1p reduction in income tax we will still pay more income tax because the threshold at which we start to pay it has been educed. That, of course, ignores all those on pensions and benefits who pay little or no tax anyway.
For the UK to be successful we need three things to be in place:
A strong £. This is vital because we buy most of our goods from abroad and most importantly, we buy oil and gas from abroad. The lower that the £ goes the less that we can buy or the more we must pay for what we need. The £ is slumping.
A strong stock exchange. This is indicator of the ability of companies to make a profit and pay decent wages to staff and decent dividends to shareholders. All of us are proxy share holders as the private pensions of most of us as well as pensions for local government workers and teachers are mostly invested in stocks and shares or corporate bonds. The stock exchange is slumping.
A good housing market. We need a stable housing market that neither soars nor slumps. Now we will be as we were in the early seventies leaving people in negative equity and unable to move house because they need to downsize, or they need to move for work. The housing market is slumping.
The biggest sign of incompetence is the Chancellor saying that, “we will not allow a recession!” What a crass misunderstanding. You cannot stop a recession unless you do the right things. Do the wrong things and you will just look like King Canute trying to hold the tide back.
Of course, one area of thought is that the Tories want to see the chaos which they have unleashed on the Country. Speculators did well by aggressively shorting the £. Do they want to get things so bad that our basic systems of care such as education, the social services and the NHS will collapse? That is possible, but they never intended to let the markets, £ and property slump because it damages those who are, in their eyes, “their people!” No this is not ideology but gross incompetence.
The only way out of this is a General Election. Already there are suggestions that Tories are putting in letters of no confidence in Truss. Even the arrogance of the Tories could not withstand such a vote after a matter of weeks and a General Election would be triggered.
The Liberal Democrats are ready for a General Election with candidates in place across the range of ‘Blue Wall’ seats that are ripe for the taking. The Labour Party is ready to pick up the ‘Red Wall’ seats’ where they did so badly in 2019. The electorate are ready with unambiguous evidence coming in from local elections parliamentary by-elections that they will back the Party that can beat the Tory locally.
As our Country falls apart, we need clarity from a competent Government which can only come with a government elected on a mandate that has been put to the people and tested in debate and full scrutiny.
This Tory Government is detestable in intent and loathsome in delivery. It is time for them to resign so that sensible pragmatic Lib Dem and Labour politicians can begin to shovel the shit of the national dung heap that the Tories have created.