Recent editions of TNE have featured photos of first Kwasi Kwarteng, then Suella Braverman and, in #313, Liz Truss. Each time, within days, that person has gone – an extraordinary accomplishment.
In the hope the trend continues, the next front page should include a photo collage of Tory MPs. You never know: it might trigger a general election!
When I first saw the front cover of TNE #313, I thought you had taken leave of your senses and were suggesting that the next PM would be Thérèse Coffey. Looking closer, I saw that it was the far more palatable Mr Blobby.
Liz Truss did not have a mandate when she took office – save for 81,000 Conservative Party members, a fraction of the population. Nor did she have authorisation to make U-turns, again and again, shifting the government’s fundamental bedrock on taxes and public expenditure.
Tendering her resignation, Ms Truss added that another prime minister would be chosen within a week. This is unacceptable.
Who is running our country at this precarious point in time should be resolved through a general election. Not in a moral vacuum, nor by a subset of people, but one governed by the centre ground. The democratic principles our governing bodies are built on must be upheld at all costs.
Professor Dr Kevin Kit Thompson
N Ferriby, East Riding of Yorkshire
How much longer does the country have to suffer this catastrophe of a government? If the Tories had a gram of decency they would call an election.
A general election right now, while fever runs high, would not be a good idea. It would produce a caricature of a parliament. Nor, however, is it a good idea to allow the present government to remain in office. The country is in a pickle. I honestly don’t know what the best short-term move is, but a long-term solution would require serious cross-party reflection on constitutional reform and serious reconsideration of the Brexit mistake. But probably only flying pigs could carry that off.
What a good article “The Faceless PM” by Jenny McCartney was (TNE #313). There is something strange and unknowable about Truss. Even her resignation speech, with her ignoring her husband standing off to the side, was deeply weird.
How on earth did someone so clearly odd, whose ministerial record was undistinguished to say the least and whose brief time in No 10 took Britain to the brink, manage to ascend to the top of the political party that has dominated our politics for so long? We have become an unserious nation.
I noticed the lectern Liz Truss used outside No 10 when she resigned had a spiral support. Was this to signify how she (with a little help from Kwasi Kwarteng) totally screwed the economy?
This line in Jonty Bloom’s “One word brought us here: Brexit” (TNE #313) says it all about the damage that has been done: “‘Put it this way,’ Carney said. ‘In 2016 the British economy was 90% the size of Germany’s. Now it is less than 70%.’”
And make no mistake, the German economy was not exactly left unscathed by Brexit either.
Many Labour Party members and supporters, as well as many former members and supporters, will take issue with Alastair Campbell’s approving description of Keir Starmer as “a serious grown-up in the job” (Diary, TNE #313): this being the re-emerging “received wisdom” promulgated by mainstream media. But this is a Labour leader who was deceitful in his leadership bid about his intentions and values; whose leadership has concentrated on attacks on and censorship of Labour members that amount to betrayal.
In the midst of current national political turmoil and corruption, the Labour Party and movement urgently needs an evidence-based as well as value-driven, courageous approach that exemplifies its historical purpose and manifests its ethical commitment to economic, social and environmental justice.
Oliver Eagleton’s The Starmer Project: A Journey to the Right (2022) is a vital history for Labour MPs, members and supporters, and former members and supporters. Measured but devastating in its tracking of Starmer’s personal and professional journey towards the Labour leadership, it exposes the authoritarianism that has become increasingly visible as his modus operandi, and his hostility towards those who hold socialist values.
So he can’t count as “a serious grown-up in the job” unless an authoritarian, anti-socialist white male, into hierarchy, control and punishment, is your measure of being “grown up”.
Starmer claims he can “make Brexit work”, just as an increasing majority of the population are calling for the whole disastrous project to be consigned to the dustbin of history. He has ruled out rejoining the single market and Customs Union and restoring freedom of movement, even though doing so would give our floundering economy an instant and massive boost.
Given that I have the choice to vote for the SNP, whose official policy is for an independent Scotland to rejoin the EU as quickly as possible, he and his party will most certainly not be getting my vote. He does the population of England a terrible wrong by depriving them of the chance to vote for a credible alternative government committed to undoing Brexit as fast and as comprehensively as possible.
Keir Starmer would need to win a second term as prime minister to command and build a mandate for re-entry to the EU. Labour needs to tackle the reasons and concerns that led to people voting for Brexit, especially the immigration issue.
The first step has to be re-entry to the single market, then quickly bounce us back into the EU, or he could try to do it all in one move. Starmer could even take us back into the single market without a referendum by just putting it in his manifesto for the second term.
The Tories are at war with each other and it isn’t inconceivable that they will soon split or, perhaps, even cease to exist (Hurrah!).
A situation that has relatively rational actors like Penny Mordaunt, Jeremy Hunt, Rishi Sunak and Ben Wallace operating alongside fruitcakes, convinced ideologues and/ or bigots – Boris Johnson, Priti Patel, Liz Truss, Kwasi Kwarteng, Suella Braverman, Kemi Badenoch, Jacob Rees-Mogg et al – simply isn’t sustainable. And don’t get me started on the Tory membership.
Labour should recognise this unprecedented opportunity and take it. Since the Brexit vote – the root cause of all this political madness – there has been an anti-democratic and authoritarian American president, a pandemic, a near-third world war and an energy crisis. The UK, Europe and the world have moved on since June 2016.
Politics isn’t a splendid game of cricket. Starmer should go for the jugular. Imminently rejoining the EU should be discussed as a realistic goal. Labour should ditch the crystal ball and seize the moment. They won’t get another one.
The Labour Party has quite rightly a reputation for advocating fairness, and it is therefore disappointing that Sir Keir Starmer does not apparently consider electoral reform to be a key priority.
I imagine that few people are aware that in the 2019 general election Labour and the Liberal Democrats got more votes than the Conservatives; but because of an electoral system only shared in Europe by Belarus, there was little correlation between votes cast and seats allocated.
Labour got 18% of the vote in Scotland; but one seat out of 59. My party got 18% in southern England and one seat out of 84.
As we have so clearly seen recently, the first-past-the-post system does have very unfortunate consequences for electors.
President, South East England Lib Dems 2014-20
Thanks for an interesting article on which European countries – led by Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands – are going cashless (Wideangle, TNE #313).
We face increasing online fraud, computer outages and the possibility of major solar flares crashing communications, as happened on the US east coast some years back. Once, public bodies had policies not to discriminate against old or vulnerable people who struggled with IT systems, but this has been thrown out the window to feed business convenience and smart app opportunists in the market.
As data from billions of internet-connected “smart” devices grows exponentially, feeding incessant demand from phone screen addiction, it is estimated the ICT industry could consume 20% of global electricity production by 2025, up from around 4% in 2015. This time it seems the UK has taken a more balanced approach to cash transactions many people feel more comfortable with than hard-to-manage cashless spending.
I must protest Paul Mason’s negative comments about engineers in “Musk, Cummings and Trump are all wrong”, TNE #312. Engineers are trained to address and solve society’s practical problems, very many of them caused by politicians. Or does he think we should all have degrees in the classics?
Jane Drummond BSc, M.Eng, PhD
I walked through Zurich airport after my delayed flight from Kenya. The disruption meant that I had to fly from Nairobi to Amsterdam, to Zurich, to Brussels and finally to Manchester. I loved that I would be jumping into four European countries in the space of seven hours.
Being in Zurich felt like I was in the heart of Europe. I could hear German, French, Spanish, Dutch and English speakers and felt totally European. My mood sank as I thought of Britain having left the EU.
Then it dawned on me. I was in Switzerland, which is not in the EU. We host two Ukrainians, whose country is not in the EU. I have an Italian son-in-law, whose country now has a far-right government and whose politics and economy we appear to aspire to. Europe is imperfect, and it’s not just the EU.
With Macron’s talk of a new European group of nations, I see a positive way forward as the UK begins to recognise its losses from not being part of the single largest market in the world and the opportunities it provided, allowing people to live and work in 27 other countries.
Things can only get better.
As a New European aficionado, it may be unsurprising that I also care passionately for the environment. May I suggest that prior to relegating past issues of our newspaper to the recycling bin we offer them a second life by leaving them, seemingly inadvertently, about our working environment? Be that a common room, welfare room or boardroom.
Even if nobody reads them, it helps promote the brand we all love.