Re: “Tory MPs propping up Boris Johnson are making us a banana republic”, (Alastair Campbell’s Diary, TNE #277). Long may they prop him up! Johnson is damaged goods now, an electoral liability. If he survives a coup by his own MPs it will only be because of his Brexiter credentials.
Some voters may now be diagnosing themselves with Partygate fatigue, but that will be forgotten when they finally get into a ballot box and remember that Johnson and his friends celebrated while they were locked down.
Labour must not panic at a time when the Tories are clawing back some of their poll lead and some of the most damaging impacts of Sue Gray’s report has been neutralised.
The fact is that keeping Boris Johnson in charge is the best possible news for Keir Starmer. He is personally damaged beyond repair by Partygate, and must still absorb the impact of fixed-term penalties for staff at No.10, together with the subsequent sackings and resignations.
Just as significantly, his insistence that the National Insurance hike goes ahead (presumably a promise extracted by Rishi Sunak in exchange for the chancellor not resigning) guarantees that the cost-of-living crisis will get worse and disenchantment with this dreadful government will continue.
Johnson’s supporters argue that he must remain as prime minister to shore up the West’s response to Russian aggression in Ukraine.
His attempt to cling to power may actually encourage Putin to continue threatening Ukraine if it serves to persuade Tory MPs to keep Johnson in office. Because, like many world leaders, he knows of the damage that Johnson is doing to Britain’s standing abroad.
Putin will also be aware of the view that, if Johnson stays, he will paralyse the government for months to come. That won’t help the West.
Unsurprising that Johnson has spent so much time defending his rule-breaking parties on the grounds that “we got Brexit done”. I expect to hear much more of the same as Johnson clings to power and with local elections not many weeks away.
Equally unsurprisingly there has been absolutely no attempt from the opposition to challenge him on the costs. And that on the day I read that Brexit is costing the treasury £30 billion a year. I despair!
Brexit meant all Tory MPs had to pass an allegiance test, so all sensible candidates were cast off. Now, with neither Truss nor Sunak making an impression, they’re terrified of an election.
The Tories are imploding and taking the UK down with them… extraordinary.
Re: “Is Jacob Rees-Mogg a true blue-blood?” (Mandrake, TNE #277). Surely his mother was a water biscuit and his father a tube of toothpaste? John O’Regan Via Facebook Does he even have any blood at all? Simona Teresi Via Facebook
The idea that Global Britain can be like Singapore is absurd (“A reflection of Brexit ignorance”, TNE #277).
We lived in Singapore during the 1960s and our house was opposite the prime minister’s seaside bungalow. Therefore we saw Lee Kwan Yew quite often and he was very friendly and enjoyed a chat.
Lee Kwan Yew’s book The Singapore Story describes how the city of Singapore emerged from liberation after the second world war to become an independent state in 1965. His second book, From Third World to First World, tells how Singapore grew to become a world city and a financial, manufacturing and trading hub in South-East Asia.
Singapore is the total antithesis of everything that Boris Johnson stands for. Singapore’s industrial area at Jurong employs large numbers of immigrants from India, the Philippines, and South-East Asia. Singapore stands for everything that Brexiters detest.
Lee Kwan Yew would have thought that Brexit was insane. It is contrary to everything he believed in. He instigated a bureau of corrupt practices. Moral standards really mattered.
The simple idea is beyond imagination. And the whole of Europe will watch, stare and do nothing, right? I would not bet on that – the Channel Islands, too.
Given the bird
Nigel Warburton in “Everyday Philosophy” (TNE #277) writes about the life and views of the radical Thomas Paine. Paine’s ideas were perhaps too heady a brew for many.
I have, however, always delighted in Paine’s remark criticising Edmund Burke’s writings defending the ancien régime against the French revolution; “he pities the plumage but forgets the dying bird”. I am frequently reminded of the saying when I read a contemporary apologist for one of our many failing national political or other institutions.
Re: “A changed Britain must flush the Royals” (Letters, TNE #277). There are those royalists who claim royalty brings money into the UK through tourists. Really?
Consider the termination of the monarchy in China in the early 1900s. The Forbidden Palace in Beijing now attracts millions of tourists every year.
Abolishing our monarchy and opening all the royal palaces and estates fully to the public would see an explosion of additional tourists to visit the UK. Eric Byrne
Paris is the most visited capital in the world, so the argument that our royals are something of an unbeatable tourist draw is way off the mark. I’m not suggesting we do to our royals what the French did to theirs, but feudalism is outmoded.
A royal family is divisive, setting the agenda for a class-ridden society based on inherited privilege.
One pro-monarchy argument is that it serves as a symbol and vessel of unity. But on the downside, this symbol can become a band-aid over deep, festering wounds.
It’s probably time to take off the Band-Aid and do the necessary surgery.
Take back the remote control
Re: “Licence To Kill Auntie”, TNE #277. Just as leaving the EU was a fixing of something not broken, so abolishing the licence fee will see a jewel in the crown of British life needlessly axed and replaced with something grossly inferior.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has pointed out the similarity between your young Dominic Cummings picture (“The Spectator connection”, TNE #277) and that other famous curmudgeon, Mark E Smith of The Fall?
Bloody hell, is he Mark E Smith’s mutant brother? It really is a massive performance art nightmare.
Re: “Right, f*** it, we’ll do it ourselves” (TNE #277). Yes, Estonia has created an amazing IT infrastructure, and their approach to the security of personal information is brilliant. Every country should copy what they have done.
A great place to live, if they could only do something about the weather.
Some of Estonia’s success comes from integrating further with Finland and Scandinavia, with which it has cultural and historic links. It is also close to Germany, and to the EU.
Fascinating stuff about Estonia. I wonder if their new prime minister will spend her time in parliament extolling their world-leading digital progress and boasting about how they are the best in the world at everything. Somehow I doubt it. Some politicians prefer to govern rather than to boast. Frank O’Callaghan
Re: “Flag Day”, TNE #277. I’m 73 going on 74. When I was 10 I did my Cubs badge on the Union Jack. I learned that it was the flag of the union of England, Scotland and Ireland.
“Where was Wales, then?” I asked myself. I’m still asking.
Of course, Keir Starmer should co-opt the Union flag. Leaving it to the National Front in the 1970s, Ukip in the 2010s and the Tories in between has done Britain no favours.
We learn that millions have been lost to fraud in a mismanaged system of Covid business loans. We add this to the millions squandered in de facto pandemic profiteering.
Then we are told that Therese Coffey – work and pensions minister – is tackling the fiscal deficit by making the benefits system even more draconian. That is before we consider the devastating effects on the poor of fuel price hikes and the ever-increasing economic difficulties caused by Brexit – euphemistically referred to by both politicians and the media as “supply chain issues”.
The easiest way to measure the social shame this wealthy, developed country should feel is the huge increase in the numbers relying on food banks since the Tories came to power.
A church I attended in Northumberland was one of the first to establish a food bank. I believed it would be temporary. Approximately 26,000 emergency food bank parcels were given out in 2008-09.
Last year The Trussell Trust stated that upwards of 2.5 million emergency food bank parcels were handed out.
Meanwhile – eschewing a scheduled flight – Liz Truss, foreign and Brexit minister and wannabe PM, spent £500,000 of taxpayer money on a private flight to Australia.
Increased food bank reliance, set against this waste and the frivolity of a partying PM, is the brutal benchmark of increasingly “un-level” Britain.
The new look of TNE came as a nice surprise, somehow it is a lot easier to read. I will forgive you for duplicating the Sudoku 2 in #274. Once I realised, it did save me a lot of time.