Several of you have politely enquired as to whether I am both still alive and what, if anything, I make of the last month’s political shenanigans? The good news is a very positive yes to the former but the bad news is I have precious little comment on the latter, the fifty-five day contest that finally revealed Liz Truss as our next prime minister. And even if I did it wouldn’t have mattered a jot or have changed the outcome in any way whatsoever. Perhaps that’s my beef?
Her eventual anointment had been devolved to a tiny number of membership-paying Tory party loyalists, around 160,000, who are largely suspected of being wealthy, middle-aged or older, white, propertied and male. I say ‘suspected’ as the party steadfastly refuses to disclose any demographic or social information on the grounds that the leadership election is a “private matter for members only” and the party itself is “not a public body and does not carry out public functions”. Yep, you read that right. The election is none of my business. And probably none of yours. Thankfully, from yesterday our spectator-only-status has been removed and we are allowed back into the discussion.
The contest itself has seen the two prize-fighting protagonists – knowing well their audience as they do have the all-important information – spent the summer months playing to that particular gallery whilst trashing one another’s views on everything from climate change to immigration, from taxation to devolution. The more extreme the promise, the louder the braying audience.
Meanwhile, a woefully invisible government, asleep at the wheel and abandoned by an awol Boris Johnson, has careered blindly towards the coming crisis. Most telling, on the morning Ofgem announced the tripling of the energy price cap, no government minister was available for interview comment. Not one. Nada. France has limited energy price rises to 4% and Spain has imposed huge windfall taxes and capped its gas price. Notwithstanding Ms Truss’s talk of tax cuts and supply-side enhancement, and our hope of big-things later today, we have wasted precious time and metaphorically fiddled whilst everything burns. Expensively. A deeply unsatisfactory mechanism of finding Boris’s successor, the fourth leader in six years, has delivered nothing of note.