The way things are going, yer average member of the electorate probably reckons – and rightly so – that the Conservative Party will this time struggle to come up with one of its legendary last-minute winners to wrench victory from the jaws of defeat. Further behind in the polls than at any time in the past 20 years, the Tories are staring down the barrel of electoral annihilation unless the incumbent lady keeps on turning; and even then, it’s highly unlikely any miracles Liz Truss might attempt to perform will make much difference. There is now such a pungent odour of rottenness surrounding the Tory Party that it just won’t go away; they may have deposed the man viewed as the architect of the contempt for the public that behind-the-scenes events at No.10 during lockdown embodied, but the calamitous mini-budget affair seems to demonstrate that the incompetence so evident in the PM’s predecessor remains as strong as ever despite the change at the top. Even the old ‘Nasty Party’ tag has resurfaced this week with time-honoured kicks at those who are already down via rumours of benefit cuts and the revival of outdated prejudices towards claimants. Unsurprisingly, the general perception is that the blue side of the Commons is absolutely bloody useless, especially since it has had more than enough time to get it right.
Whereas apportioning blame to the last Labour Government was a familiar tactic of the Con-Dem Coalition from 2010 onwards whenever they f***ed something up, we’re now too removed from Blair and Brown for this to be a useful tool. And trying to pre-empt the blame game by predicting the next Labour Government will be even worse doesn’t wash. You should stand or fall by your own record – and you usually don’t have much of a record to be proud of if you keep chopping and changing the person at the top in the hope a fresh face will turn fortunes around. When one considers the Tory leader (and Prime Minister) has changed three times in 12 years of the country being run by a Conservative administration, yet Margaret Thatcher’s entire tenure in Downing Street comprised just one year less than that timespan, it’s like looking at the form book of Manchester United since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson: six coaches in nine years and no Premier League title.
Yet this is the same political party that won a landslide as recently as 2019, famously demolishing Labour’s ‘Red Wall’ in the process; the fact that those voters on loan to the Conservatives are now contemplating returning to Labour – despite their well-founded reservations about Labour’s Identity Politics-infected Metropolitan obsessions that have bugger all to do with its traditional working-class base – speaks volumes as to the level of letdown the Tories have generated. But this is where we are: an utterly appalling governing party and an awful opposition that people will end up voting for because there’s no other choice. And Keir Starmer leading his Shadow Cabinet in a version of ‘God Save the King’ rather than ‘The Red Flag’ to close the Labour Party Conference fooled none of the Queen-loving plebs this Anglophobe Party seeks to reconnect with. No, whereas the 2016 Leave vote can be seen as a bloody nose inflicted upon a worldview that Labour remain the cheerleaders for, I suspect a similar injury will be dished out to the Tories in 2024 simply because it’s their turn.
The prospect of Keir Starmer as Prime Minister is not something that fills my heart with joy, to put it mildly; I’ve never made any secret of my loathing of the man, and this goes back a decade to his time as DPP and head of the CPS. I can’t say the rest of the Labour frontbench fills me with confidence either. The detoxification of the Corbynite influence within the Party has succeeded to a degree, but it retains many of the elements that have long made it such an unattractive proposition to the electorate. Only the other week, Labour MP Rupa Huq echoed Joe Biden’s ‘You ain’t black’ sentiments by labelling Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng ‘superficially black’ – as blatant an example of the racism at the heart of Woke ‘anti-racism’ as any British politician has been stupid enough to spout. The Party that can’t say what a woman is was also recently rumoured to have considered adding dilettante ‘lady’ Eddie Izzard to an all-woman shortlist to be selected as a Labour Parliamentary candidate; the fact all-woman shortlists even exist is patronising enough, but picking a bloke in drag to be included amongst the lucky ladies underlines further the kind of first-world luxury concerns that continue to alienate the Party both from its old supporters and from potential recruits that aren’t middle-class university graduates living in a big city.
Labour’s unrelenting Green fetish is another factor that wouldn’t play well with the wider electorate if implemented as legislation. Saving the planet may well be a noble crusade for those who can afford it, but the bulk of what Labour’s Green policies will cost the taxpayer is destined to hit the proles the hardest. And considering they’re hard hit enough at the moment when it comes to paying for energy, this isn’t a good sign; but it’s all our fault that the planet is f***ed, don’t forget – not a country like China pumping unchecked pollution into the atmosphere at will. Therefore, we have to pay for the privilege of saving it. We may not be able to heat our homes or buy food that’s edible, but at least our children’s children will be able to rent a shed by the end of the century. As with the war in Ukraine, Climate Change can be easily weaponised and blamed for any bad smell, something that pardons the genuine guilty parties who actually let Polly out of prison in the first place. Take the water companies – currently one of the worst examples of privatised industry, with chief executives and shareholders reaping astronomical rewards for running services that are piss-poor to say the least.
Their decayed fresh water supply pipes ‘mislaid’ over a trillion litres of water in 2021/22, and the utterly predictable heavy rain that followed the summer’s heat-wave led to a handful of companies releasing gallons of raw sewage into rivers and the sea, poisoning fishes and swimmers alike. So badly have some of the water companies performed that regulator Ofwat has heavily fined the worst offenders, prompting promises of £150 million reductions in water bills for affected customers. As an aside, I wish the regulator would change the name I keep typing as Oftwat, but I digress. One of the poorest performing and most heavily fined water companies was Thames Water. According to stats in the most recent edition of Private Eye, Thames Water has lost 217 billion litres of water over the past year, not to mention being responsible for a sinkhole that closed the Oxford stretch of the A34 as well as a pipe that burst in Windsor and caused disruption for those visiting the Castle during the mourning for Her Majesty; at the same time, the company’s Chief Executive was the recipient of a salary and bonus amounting to £2m. Well, that should make it a little easier to sleep at night in the absence of a conscience or sense of shame, I guess.
Apart from this seemingly decisive (if long overdue) action by Ofwat, the toothless likes of the Environment Agency has been remarkably ineffective in taking the water companies to task in recent years. And all the bodies entrusted with the state of the nation’s water are complicit in the ultimate buck-passing tactic that is to blame everything on Climate Change. For the water companies in particular, this is their very own ‘get out of jail card’, absolving them of all responsibility; but it works just as well for the failures of the regulatory bodies that are supposed to police them. Alas, such is the nature of the times we reside in. The Tories blame Labour; Labour blames the Tories; and all blame the war in Ukraine. And the pandemic. And Climate Change.
© The Editor