Not just Covid and Johnson

If you wanted to live in a prosperous and compassionate UK, you would probably not want to start from where we are today. Forget Boris Johnson and Covid, things were in a mess even before those major problems.

At that time, after the first 10 years of Conservative rule, the NHS, Social Care, the Police, the Justice system, Schools and Education, in fact every public service was in a worse state than when they took over in 2010.

During the Covid period things have continued to decline. Facing the same global problem, we have fared worse than other major countries in relation to growth and inflation, let alone having the worst Covid death rates in Europe. And despite what you hear, several countries had better vaccine roll outs than we did. So it’s not the problems we have faced, it’s how badly the Tories have managed them.

Every group of people in the country, except the richest few percent, are worse off now than they were 12 years ago.

So let nobody say there have been lots of problems and no other government would have done any better. The evidence suggests ANYBODY else would have done better.

The latest illustration? Asda cafés offering £1 meals to under 16’s to alleviate “holiday hunger”. How far have we fallen in the last 12 years when a supermarket offers to keep our children fed?
This is the shameful reality after 12 years of Conservative rule.

Phew! What a lot of shockers

A record-breaking heatwave brings home to us how urgent the fight against Climate Emergency is – yet Tory contenders to be the next Prime Minister had to be pushed to honour Britain’s commitments to combat global warming.

Squabbling while Europe burns

It’s only after pressure from Cop 26 chairman Alok Sharma that all of the four candidates left in the race today (Tuesday) backed the Government’s target of reaching net zero emissions by 2050.

Fareham’s MP Suella Braverman – now eliminated – had launched her campaign with a pledge to scrap the target.

Kemi Badenoch – whose gain in votes seems to have come mainly from Mrs Braverman’s supporters – finally agreed to honour the target after Mr Sharma said he might resign if a Tory leader did not back net-zero. She had previously likened the target to “unilateral economic disarmament”.

Other now-eliminated candidates had suggested the economic downturn had made green energy commitments unaffordable.

With wildfires sweeping large areas of Europe, America and China, rail transport at a standstill and thousands of heat-related deaths forecast, it was shocking to see so many current and former senior ministers squabbling over who was the least “woke” or the most Brexity instead of addressing a crisis that threatens our very future.

By contrast, it’s worth remembering that many of the policies to move to more sustainable energy sources were introduced by Ed Davey – now the Lib Dem leader – when he was Energy Secretary in the Coalition Government.

And in Fareham, Lib Dems have led the way in fighting global warming, and continue to do so through our Climate Emergency forum.

Circus Maximus and the chariots of ire

The struggle to be Top Tory is revealing. Most of us will have no say in the appointment of replacements for the defunct government, but all of us are exposed daily to the wilder notions of contenders. Today the UK is not exactly Sri Lanka but almost as scary.

By the time you read this the field will have shrunk and the stakes raised for the finalists – but there’ll be no public vote. Relegation for those hanging on at the bottom of the league is not, for them, the worst possible outcome.

Pitching for prime is like a confessional – all contenders are complicit in the making of the mess but all cry out for trust and forgiveness. In the timeless words of the General Confession ‘we have erred and strayed from our way like lost sheep – and there is no health in us.’

The full judgement of their various sins of commission and omission will not be made until the next General Election, but we cannot now unhear the truth. Now we know that our local MP holds deeply offensive positions on ‘economic migration’, on the European Court of Human Rights, and on adherence to International Law. You might disagree with her view on the intellectual capacity of disabled children and we all might be worlds apart on the supposed riches that would assuredly flow from her beloved Brexit. In the unlikely event, dear reader, that you are a local Tory Councillor, you might even disagree with her populist stance on the strategic gap between Stubbington and Fareham or the relevance of gender identities in a grown-up world.

Regardless of outcomes in the next round of voting, the question facing local Conservative Party members is whether they’ll still like the cut of her jib. Is there any plan to deselect? Maybe, surely, they can find an alternative candidate?

But wait. A ray of sunshine has appeared. Jacob Rees-Mogg has declared an unwillingness to be involved in any government led by the current front-runner. Perhaps there’s hope for the county, yet.