Now we finally have heard Keir Starmer’s solution to the energy bills crisis, may I suggest he reads Paul Mason’s “6-point plan to avert catastrophe” (TNE #303) and has another go?
To be for making Brexit work when most people want Brexit gone can be considered misfortune; to be against nationalisation when most people want it for the energy companies looks like carelessness.
Paul Mason’s is one of the most commonsense articles I have seen in recent times. But his solutions require the strong will of a Tory or Labour government to hold big corporations to account. This is not part of Tory ethos, especially Liz Truss’s “Britannia Unchained” mentality. Is it part of Labour’s?
In the early days of the rollout of the vaccine against Covid-19, we heard plenty about how Britain was leading the world, showing up the Europeans and demonstrating how leaving the European Union had been vindicated by our ability to act fast and act alone.
During the four weeks I’ve been in France on holiday (two more to come) I have heard no French politicians boasting that their energy price freezes and fuel pump rebates mean that theirs is the greatest country in the world, nor anyone scoffing at the poor old Brits.
“Truss’s tragic money tree” by Jonty Bloom (TNE #303) nails the disaster that is about to befall Britain.
The people who will set the new prime minister’s fiscal policies are the ones who told us that cutting ourselves off from our largest and nearest market would put us in clover. That really is tragic.
Middleton, Greater Manchester
So after Truss has done all this and the country sinks further in terms of economic growth but increases in terms of poverty, who will she and the ERG then blame?
The forces behind the Brexit campaign – plus the small army they recruited – were never going to meekly retire to their allotments and country clubs post-EU departure. Once Truss is elected, many are now voicing concerns that the next crackpot cause to fill their days and drain money will be climate change denial.
There are, though, other areas where these individuals may decide to concentrate their activism: there are already rumblings about tighter controls on abortion and even deregulating gun ownership.
I wonder which factor will ensure we do not descend into even darker days: political leadership with backbone, citizens learning from Brexit or the agitators splitting their efforts between the above and thus spreading themselves too thinly. I fear we just might have to rely on the latter for salvation!
Thatcher was sensible enough to treat the civil service and police well, at least in the beginning when she knew she would need their cooperation. Truss is dog-whistling the Tory base who have been taught that only the private sector can do things well. I’m no lover of Thatcher, but Truss is to her as Johnson is to Churchill.
Fire and ice
Mandrake (TNE #303) talks about Rishi Sunak rapping along to Vanilla Ice in a vain attempt to convince Britain that he is not a billionaire robot. But perhaps Ice Ice Baby contains the seeds of how Rishi intends to save us all from an energy crisis: “Will it ever stop? Yo, I don’t know/Turn off the lights, and I’ll glow.”
Richard ‘Vanilla Slice’ Jessup
Both Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, in campaigning to become prime minister, have promised a bonfire of regulations to unleash Britain’s potential. They’re bonkers.
They only need to look at the abysmal performance of our water companies to realise the damage that can be caused by inadequate regulation. It has allowed them to get away with under-investing in preventing leaks and sewage discharges and resilience to climate change – for example, to cope with droughts.
Also with the Tories, like much of the country, so combustible at the moment: isn’t it the wrong time to be planning bonfires?
One big con
I was surprised to read in Ian Morris’s “Why Britain is destined to depend on China” (TNE #303) that Brussels had “nibbled away at British sovereignty and identity until governments in London had less say over the Isles’ prosperity and security… than their counterparts in… Brussels.”
The EU is a cooperation like Nato, the World Trade Organisation, the UN or any other treaty-based organisation of states. The European parliament consists of democratically elected politicians of all shades with no strong powers or unified agenda. The council of ministers is a forum where the governments of all the member states freely and sovereignly negotiate with each other.
The UK was able to pass its own sovereign laws, including the one to leave. Brexit was just a giant con trick to foist on us extreme right-wing policies that have no significant electoral support in their own right.
King of hearts
Bonnie Greer (“The King and I”, TNE #303) devotes her space to an article on Elvis. Why? All right, it’s the August silly season, but surely there’s enough going on in the USA? I’m bemused. First Alastair, now Bonnie. Sophia next?
Everybody has songs that mean a lot to them. If Burning Love says something to Bonnie, it’s nobody’s business to challenge it. I’d be very sceptical about reading too much into it though.
The idea that Presley’s delivery suggested him trying to free himself of something is whimsy. He had ample opportunity to do that. He could have sacked Colonel Tom Parker and toured the world, establishing himself as a formidable global performer instead of the ease of the Vegas years.
The stellar backing Bonnie refers to might just have been so he could hide within it; create a spectacle to divert from the decline. It’s so sad that the man who was so important and inspiring from 1956-58 should end up wearing a bejewelled catsuit in Vegas.
It’s my belief that his UK competition, Cliff Richard, outlasted him as a creative force, passing an Elvis in decline in 1973. But the Elvis myth lives on, much as the Thatcher myth does. It’s just opinions, isn’t it?
I Just Can’t Help Believin’ that Elvis had plenty to tell us about Brexit. The European Union was our Good Luck Charm, but thanks to Suspicious Minds we now have A Little Less Conversation.
It’s only since watching our trade figures plunge Way Down that we can finally see The Wonder of EU.
Rejoining? It’s Always On My Mind, and If I Can Dream, so can everyone else. Thankyewverymuch.
The dangers of right wing terrorism are discussed in Andy Owen’s article in TNE #303 (Our forever war on terror”) but the dangers of Tory right wing fundamentalism are not. Our right wing papers encourage lying, cheating, corruption, and fake news. They rubbish honest BBC reporters and civil servants.
Most Tories cannot be classified as “extreme”, but I fear it won’t be long before extreme behaviour by the government will be regarded as “normal”, as is the extreme nastiness of Priti Patel, Nadine Dorries and Jacob Rees-Mogg.
Congratulations to whoever compiles the TNE Letters page. The placement in #303 of a letter praising the House of Lords for its erudite, intellectual debate next to a letter about satire was clearly some kind of hidden message.
Rob Hughes is far too kind about FC Barcelona (“Mes que un club in more than a mess”, TNE #303). I have no doubt that La Liga will look the other way and wave through their latest attempts at financial trickery while the inept Uefa wring their hands, but Joan Laporta has sacrificed the club’s long-term future to be competitive this season and without a Super League they are doomed.
I was very interested to read Charlie Connelly’s recollection of how enchanted he was on discovering HV Morton’s travel books and how disillusioned he was on reading his biography (“Terrific writer; terrible man”, TNE #302). It depicts Morton as a serial philanderer on a large scale but also as a determined racist and supporter of the most chilling forms of fascism.
This experience very closely resembles my own discovery of Morton and subsequent disappointment. What is genuinely puzzling about the man is the degree to which he appeared to sympathise with the people and manners of foreign lands in Europe and the Middle East. That does not appear to fit with the xenophobe of the biography.
I too did notice, however, some tell-tale points of concern. In his book on Spain, Morton gives a surprising account of the conquistadors, suggesting they were fine, upstanding fellows driven beyond endurance by Montezuma and his men. I don’t know what Morton’s source was but the account certainly differs from others I have read.
Nonetheless, I would urge anyone who enjoys good travel books to make his acquaintance. They are great books, though as dangerous to younger travel writers as Raymond Chandler is for thriller writers. The style is simply too impressive and infectious.
I’ve got my grandfather’s copy of HV Morton’s In Search of London, published in 1940, and was just as surprised as Charlie Connelly when I read his article. The warmth of the writing seems completely at odds with his character.
I have just returned from a week in the Spanish island of Menorca. When I arrived at passport control in Mahon airport, the officer looked at my European Movement Badge (logo above) and said how much he liked it.
On our departure a week later I saw the same passport officer, who smiled at me, and I said I wanted to exit from Brexit!