I've been away on holiday (Anglo-French hiking around Chichester followed by visiting long-standing friends near Margate) for a couple of weeks, hence no posts. However, here are a few random thoughts on what I've gathered from such of the news I've caught.
Liz Truss is so awful that I find myself willing Rishi Sunak to do well in the debates and interviews (in some of which Truss is too chicken to participate.)
Sadly we need to remember that Sunak is not only a lightweight (see previous comments on his Chancellorship) but also without backbone. His predecessor as Chancellor resigned rather than accept Johnson's demand that the Treasury should sack its advisors and rely on those in Downing Street. Good for Javid. No person of principle would have accepted the job under those conditions. But Sunak did.
Liz Truss promises that under her premiership entrepreneurial economic energies will be released and all sorts of wonderful prospects will eventuate as a result of growth. That myth, if not as old as the hills. goes back at least to Harold Wilson at the opposite end of the political spectrum He promised us that under socialist planning a healthy, caring and prosperous state would emerge and wouldn't cost us a penny (real pennies in those days): It would be financed out of growth. There are two problems with Truss's policy. First there is no lever to pull that will produce wondrous growth in the short run - but poverty-stricken households need help to eat, and heat thee homes, this winter, not is some golden decade in the future. Secondly, she may be right in the long run, maybe even before we're all dead, but additional growth based on additional consumption is gong to exhaust the planet's finite resources and make it uninhabitable, as is evidenced by fires in France, floods in Australia and aridity in Africa, to name but some.
Yet, following on form that last point, both Truss and Sunak cheerfully advocate undoing such modest measures as we have to alleviate global heating. Truss would abandon the Green Levy and Sunak reduce the VAT on fuel. Such short-termism is now totally unacceptable. As Truss said in another context THIS-IS-A-DISGACE.(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aj49CogLemQ)
In the Guardian on the 10th August George Monbiot quoted some interesting facts about our water industry: not a single new reservoir has been commissioned since privatisation in 1989; the distribution system leaks at the rate of 2.4bn litres per day on current estimates; untreated sewage is poured into our rivers on a regular basis; rather than fix these problems the companies have distributed £72 billion (that's billions, not mere millions,) into the bank accounts of their shareholders.
I don't have any figures to hand, but I suspect much the same can be said of oil industry, as for years it has cheerfully denied that its product has anything to do with the climate crisis (much as the tobacco companies denied that there is any connection between smoking and lung cancer. In Africa one of the most popular cigarette brands was called "Life." )
The use of food banks has increased, is increasing and ought to be not so much diminished as eliminated. In addition we are now reduced to the humiliation of having to create "warm banks" to which we may retreat when they can no longer afford to heat our homes. THIS-IS-A DISGRACE.
The reality is that the economic model touted by the Tories, based on the "trickle down effect"** does not adequately serve the needs of a significant proportion of our population. A tiny proportion - 0.1%, 1% or maybe even 10% - do very well indeed out of it. The vast bulk of us live very comfortably indeed, taking as normal luxuries (foreign holidays, designer clothes if you like that sort of thing, meals out, centrally heated houses, separate bedrooms of the kids, arts and entertainment, gadgetry galore) beyond the wildest dreams of our grandparents and even, for some of us, our parents. But a bottom 20% to 25% are constantly on the breadline, tempted into unaffordable debt, and some can't manage at all without recourse to food banks and, coming shorty, warm banks. THIS-IS-A-DISGRACE. As still one of the richest society in the world we need to be devising ways of sharing our incomes and wealth more equitably. The candidates for the Tory leadership are offering the opposite.
Conservatives, including both leadership candidates, like to indicate that their inhuman and possibly illegal policy towards refugees is aimed at combatting "the evil business of people smuggling." Hmm? If that were the case then the easiest and quickest way to do it would be to set up booths on the coast of France, or wherever else potential migrants are gathering, with banners saying "Welcome to Britain." I forget which European crisis it was which produced a lot of refugees at an airport, and an assertive woman, probably from the WVS or something similar,announced in commanding tones: "Those who wish to come to Britain follow me!" and marched them on to a nearby RAF transport. Whoever they were will have contributed considerably to our prosperity and diversity. The comfortable and ageing Conservatives who form the electorate for our next prime minister might like to ponder how much these and similar migrants have contributed to their comforts. But they won't read about it in the Daily Mail, the Sun or the Express.
*Very old readers may remember this as the heading for a Guardian column.
** Shorthand for cutting taxes and scrapping regulations to release the energies of entrepreneurs and the resulting employment opportunities will eventually benefit the lower orders.