Jonty Bloom’s “After the clown, send in the clone” and Mitch Benn’s “Four little words that spell the end of satire” (TNE #301) both nail Liz Truss’s vacuity, but not her danger.
Truss is on a runaway train heading rightwards and has shown in this leadership campaign that she is completely in thrall to both Boris Johnson and the ERG. Her pronouncements on Rwanda and union reform indicate that she will be the most extreme right-wing prime minister we have ever had, and she can do a lot of damage between September 2022 and February 2025.
Bolton, Greater Manchester
Mitch Benn might describe “prime minister Liz Truss” as “Four little words that spell the end of satire” (TNE #301), but think of our unexplored pork markets in China! Think of the disgrace of imported cheese!
I thought Mitch Benn might have gone over the top when he talked about the Tory leadership election spelling the end of satire. Then I read that one of Rishi Sunak’s team has said Liz Truss is “showing her true Remainer colours” by saying she would allow more migrants in to pick fruit.
Truly, they are beyond parody. God help the satirists, and God help us all.
At least “Boris” was just a character he played. Truss genuinely is dangerous.
Of course, I like to see a woman succeed in the cut-throat game of politics, but I don’t want one who will renege on signed deals and agreements.
The trajectory of the Conservative party is indeed a worrying one, and if this combative stance goes on without the necessary amelioration, I sense our country will become an outlier or even worse a pariah on the world’s stage, because we don’t want to accept the standard norms of governance. No doubt Tory party members will love this “take no prisoners” modus operandi, and here we go again…
Judith A Daniels
Great Yarmouth, Norfolk
James Ball’s analysis of the Conservative candidates’ “Battle to lead the Britain they broke” (TNE #301) raises many issues. As our climate, ecological and energy crisis gets ever more critical there is hardly a word from the candidates about tackling environmental challenges. Only a call for ever more economic growth that will stress our planet’s rapidly declining resources further.
There is little said on immigration, which shows no sign of going down despite control of borders being a top concern in the Brexit referendum. The fact that Boris Johnson has already committed to enabling several million Hong Kong migrants to settle in Britain has been completely ignored, together with the knock-on effects on infrastructure costs, healthcare, and housing.
We face social, economic and environmental pressures that far and away transcend the complacent stance of a government out of touch with reality. There is no social justice on a wrecked planet.
More than ever we need a coherent opposition alliance focused on a complete overhaul of our political priorities. An agenda where we could ignite ambition for reform with our European partners.
“Truss” is a noun that means a post or a strut that can be used to support an old establishment that’s about to fall down. It’s also an old-fashioned surgical appliance designed to hold back a rupture of the body (including presumably the body politic).
“Truss” is also a verb which means to tie up the wings of a dead bird (including presumably the right and left wings of a dead-duck parliament). Of course, for most of us, when we heard the word “truss” for the first time, we thought it was “trust” – and then we realised that “truss” has nothing to do with that word at all.
In your quiz (TNE #301), you asked: “Sisters Louise, Pauline, Diane and Marie de Mailly were all mistresses of which king?”
Imagine my surprise to discover that the answer was Louis XV and not the self-styled World King.
The revelations of Cleo Watson, deputy chief of staff, about her experience in No 10 Downing Street chimed with me. She tells of having to run around after Boris Johnson as if she was his nanny, as he had no clear idea of what to do or how to do it.
In the 1990s, a faded ’60s pop star came to my town (Newark) and tried to get the local amateur dramatic scene interested in supporting his plan to write a musical. He promised the earth, but somehow never seemed to get on with it.
Me and a colleague, as the putative musical director and artistic director, were always trying to get him to do something, anything. Nothing materialised, and we finally realised that if it was going to happen at all we would end up doing all the work, while he would get all the glory, so we left him to it. Unsurprisingly, he moved on and the project was quietly forgotten.
It took us six months for us all to see through the faded pop star. Pity it took the Conservative party three years to see through Johnson.
West Bridgford, Notts
In the light of Alastair Campbell’s enthusiasm for ABBA (Diary, TNE #300), it struck me that the chorus of Should I Laugh or Cry? from their album The Visitors could almost have been written with Boris Johnson in mind:
High and mighty his banner flies
A fool’s pride in his eyes
Standin’ there on his toes to grow in size.
All I see is a big balloon
Halfway up to the moon,
He’s wrapped up in the warm and safe cocoon
Of an eternal lie,
So should I laugh or cry?
Do none of your correspondents who criticise Labour’s Brexit policy (Letters, TNE #299-301) remember how the issue caused huge internal division for months and then was successfully weaponised by the opposition at the 2019 general election? I was one of those calling for Labour to advocate a People’s Vote. The party eventually did so, and got slaughtered in return.
Polls continue to show that while voters believe Brexit was a mistake, they also believe that it is still too soon to return to the EU. Until this changes, and changes significantly, Keir Starmer’s is the right policy.
Suna Erdem’s “Road to car-free cities” (TNE #301) was fascinating. There is no case whatsoever for private cars in city centres, apart from those owned by city-centre residents.
Look at any major pedestrianisation project in British cities and towns and despite the initial misgivings and moans, the results are the same – cleaner and greener spaces with increased footfall to shops and facilities. Car-free zones are an overdue idea, and the time for them has never been more urgent.
I’m glad Bonnie Greer has never read the novel of Gone with the Wind (“Ill Wind”, TNE #301). Its racism is even more virulent than the film’s.
Both seem to have disappeared from library shelves and TV schedules in recent years, but perhaps one Tory leadership contender or other will soon call for them to be put on the curriculum as part of the “war on woke”.
The thought of Paul Dacre of the Daily Mail being given a peerage (Mandrake, TNE #301) is just another reason to scrap this unelected chamber of parliament. Replace it with a much-slimmed-down version with elected members voted in through PR.
Two MPs have been stabbed to death in recent years, but Nadine Dorries thinks it is a good idea to retweet a meme of Rishi Sunak stabbing Boris Johnson in the back. For this and her various other acts of stupidity she will be rewarded with a peerage in the overdue resignation honours list.
Meanwhile Johnson seeks to pack the Lords with Tory cronies so future Conservative governments can avoid scrutiny. I understand that Labour are reluctant to rock the boat when they have built up a double-digit poll lead, but surely ending the costly embarrassment that is the current second chamber is not just necessary but a vote-winner?
The experience of Italy being held hostage by minority far-right parties (“How Draghi was floored by coalition of chaos”, TNE #301) offers a salutary lesson to those who believe that PR must be rushed through to put the Conservatives permanently out of government.
FPTP is far from perfect, but let us not be blind to the risks of handing undue influence to extremists.
England’s Fabio Capello experiment might not have gone so well, but since he is now looking for work, perhaps a safe pair of hands like Mario Draghi might be persuaded to do a job as caretaker British prime minister until the end of the political season?
In “Will Germany stand up?” (TNE #301), John Kampfner wrote, “Seen from Germany, Britain seems an increasingly distant land.” Seen from Scotland, England also looks an increasingly distant land.
To the south we see a litany of crises; the rule of law ignored, constitutional custom and practice trashed, studied avoidance of tackling inflation, an imminent energy and humanitarian catastrophe, labour shortages, a declining economy and the NHS being railroaded into privatisation. Through all this, the ruling Conservative party is engaged in running its ludicrous leadership election that will give its winner no public mandate.
And where is Labour? Dancing on the head of a pin over Europe or vying with the Tories for a share of the votes of people with views it has fought against for almost all of its history.
It should be no surprise that the union is, as they say in Glasgow, hanging by a shoogly peg.
Rob Hughes (“Football in the wilderness”, TNE #301) yet again says that Manchester City are fully owned and financed by a Gulf state. City is only 78% owned by the Abu Dhabi United Group; 10% is owned by American firm Silver Lake and 12% is owned by Chinese firms China Media Capital and CITIC Capital.
Audited accounts at Companies House show City are financed by TV rights sales, merchandising sales, and sponsorship deals, which are checked out by Uefa. I know that we live in a post-truth world, but one of the reasons I subscribe to TNE is for truthful journalism.
Reluctant as I am to join Liz Truss, Nadine Dorries and Thérèse Coffey as late jumpers on to the women’s football bandwagon, I do feel that any Tory leadership debate can be made palatable if you simply remember the advice of Jill Scott to Germany’s Sydney Lohmann towards the end of Sunday’s glorious final.