One political commentator observed this week that it’s unlikely Britain will ever join the EU again. They will have developed during the interim in ways which no British politician would dare consider.
Leaving aside the probabilities of our joining the EU again, the suggestion of cowardice among our politicians rings true. However abject our country’s plight, however desperate the public’s sentiment towards being part of Europe again, it is difficult to see how any of our present main political parties would have the courage to call out Brexit for what it is and have Britain embrace the modern world.
Because the EU represents true democracies under a fair voting system, an absence of humbug about the monarchy, and an attempt at equality which would laugh at our ‘levelling up’ fiascos. Not one national British political party would attempt all of those.
Speaking of cowardice, we turn once more to Rachel Reeves.
There is to be no wealth tax under Labour. That means there will be no more money. That means that the rest of us will have to continue to live under austerity. Ms Reeves tells us that we must “grow our way” to prosperity, the same pie-in-the-sky deluded nonsense for which Labour very properly mocks the Tories.
“I don’t see a route towards having more money for public services that is through taxing our way there,” she says, so ditching the model which has worked perfectly well for Scandinavia. She knows it well enough, she’s just scared to take it.
Britain needs an entire reboot, and that won’t happen unless there are politicians who will support it. It certainly won’t by pretending there is no need for radical action. Tactics only work if there is a strategy, and is Labour’s strategy to lie to the voters until they gain power?
Britain is the sixth largest economy in the world, apparently. Yet our hospitals and schools and all our infrastructure is crumbling, our environment is trashed and poisoned, and people can’t afford to live. Our standard of living has slumped to that of nearly 20 years ago. So tell us, Ms Reeves, where is all the money?
There was a discussion during the editorial meeting this week on whether we are too hard on the Tories… Perhaps we should make a distinction between MPs and the government on one hand and ordinary party members on the other.
It is a reasonable point, and one which this writer and colleagues tried to pursue when we launched EAB. But in more than two years we have yet to hear a whisper from ‘reasonable’ Conservatives. Their chosen representatives lie and plunder, desecrate the environment, ignore their constituents and enrich themselves. And it seems their party members still attend meetings and still put up their hands for more of the same when required to do so.
Apparently, all is still going well. Let’s remember, it is only a few months ago that these same Conservative members elected the lunatic Liz Truss as party leader and prime minister.
A great deal has been written about Grant Shapps (Welwyn Hatfield) and his various aliases over the years, all of it in outrage and much of it carefully worded so as to avoid charges of libel. That alone tells you much about Mr Shapps and his activities.
Nothing surprises us about what Rishi Sunak does with his government in its death throes. (According to Tom Tugendhat, chair of the Commons defence committee, Mr Sunak chose Mr Shapps for his “political style”.) Nothing surprises us about Mr Shapps either. We already know rather a lot about his political style.
Wasn’t there a film called ‘One of our aircraft is missing?’ It could be an appropriate strap line for Mr Shapps’ new job as secretary of state for defence, though we’ll be lucky if it’s only one. A BBC commentator on the Falklands War famously remarked: ”I counted them all out and I counted them all back”. That may become the order of the day in the RAF from now on. Admirals may need to count their destroyers too. (If we still have any, that is.) And watch out for curious new offers on eBay: ‘Type 23 frigate, one careful owner’. From a Mr Green, say.
The former head of the army, Lord Dannatt, a Norfolk man, tells us that Grant Shapps knows very little about defence. But then this is the fifth cabinet post he has held in the past year, and he knew nothing about transport, energy, net zero or the Home Office either.
“There is a very strong case that we should be investing more in defence than we currently are,” says his lordship. “Ben Wallace knew that. Ben Wallace was arguing for it. Is that discussion going to continue? Or will Grant Shapps choose to go quietly?”
Critics of Mr Shapps might suggest that his record suggests he will always do whatever looks best for Mr Shapps, through whichever eyes he needs to be seen in a good light. So it would be reasonable for senior ranks in the armed forces to ask themselves who is his important audience. Those senior ranks, or the prime minister? The clue lies in that ‘political style’ of his.
“The full letter came in just shy of 1,800 words,” Rob Hutton wrote of the Nadine Dorries resignation declamation. “That’s a little longer than St Paul’s note to the Philippians, but then the apostle had less to get off his chest than St Nadine.”
“It’s a very long resignation letter,” her local party chair Blake Stephenson agreed. “I wonder if it’s the longest in history.”
But however long, it’s still not clear that she has actually sent it to the prime minister. It was after all an open letter, published in the Mail. But what if he’s a Telegraph man? Meanwhile the disinterested tone of Mr Stephenson’s response seems to fit with his remarks reported by Pecksniff recently, which declared that her behaviour once she had been elected was nothing to do with him or his party.
In her Mail interview she claimed that she had people begging her not to go. “I’m not one of those people,” Mr Stephenson admitted, so at least that’s clear.
To declare that Nadine Dorries is an airhead is probably to give balloons a bad name. She was always a passionate Brexiter, because that’s where the cool kids hung out and she was always Boris Johnson’s creature. Readers may recall the TV interview in which she attacked Theresa May’s plan for Brexit because, after leaving the EU, she claimed Britain would have “No voice, no vote, no MEPs, no commissioner”.
In the former Dorries fiefdom of Mid Beds, the Liberal Democrats and Labour are gaslighting on a scale that might have illuminated all of Victorian Bedfordshire. But there is little light here, just sound and fury. For both parties this is seen as a huge test of their virility. Who will lay the ghost of Dorries?
For the record, in 2019 Labour polled 21% and LibDems 13%. Electoral Calculus gives the LibDems no chance of winning. But on the other hand, the betting markets give them a 68% chance. Please yourself. But there will be no “cosy deal”, as Labour’s organiser Anneliese Dodds chooses to phrase it. Definitely not here. Tribalism rules.
Actually, that quote from Ms Dodds illustrates one thing proponents of proportional representation never address. The disgust she makes clear her party feels for doing deals means they would never ever be part of a coalition government. The party is notorious for its vanity and arrogance. Compromise, the very stuff of PR, is identified with those very traitors and cowards they sing about in the Red Flag.
For example, when a LibDem Green, Independent coalition took control of East Suffolk Council in May, Labour refused to join them. In fact, in their very first vote they sided with the Tories. Because Labour had been waiting for years to win that council, (whilst doing sod all about it), and now a bunch of arrivistes had pinched the glory. “Sour grapes”, said the coalition. Some Labour councillors see the problem and complain of the “dead wood” in their own party who would never countenance working with the Greens.
Still in that part of the world, Therese Coffey (Suffolk Coastal) has been called a liar by the RSPB. In a tweet which also went to Michael Gove and Rishi Sunak, the wildlife charity declared:
“LIARS! You said you wouldn’t weaken environmental protections. And yet that’s just what you are doing. You lie, and you lie, and you lie again. And we’ve had enough.”
The post went on to point out that the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill represents the “first reversal in environmental legislation for decades” by removing previous regulations to allow unmitigated pollution in new housing developments”.
Your diarist has revealed before that the editor does not like the use of the word ‘liar’. A woman who eats last night’s empties for breakfast and cleans her teeth with barbed wire is nevertheless peculiarly squeamish about that word. But it is acceptable to call Dr Coffey a liar if we are quoting it.
What to do about Dr Coffey, though? Perhaps she fits into André Gide’s description: “The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity”.
CambsNews reports that Liberal Democrats were banned from handing out leaflets on Ely market, to explain the plans to introduce a 20mph speed limit throughout the city. The market is under the control of East Cambs Council, which is Tory controlled, and they instructed the market manager to refuse permission.
The leader of Cambs Council, Councillor Anna Bailey, claims not to know of the public consultation. This is despite having been notified officially of the plans or the public consultation, which was launched in July and is featured on the city’s website. Cllr Bailey claims the public don’t know of the plans, though forbidding anybody telling them about them seems a curious way to have them informed.
And LibDem Councillor Lorna Dupré points out: “Extraordinarily, this was happening at the very moment the leader of the council was on the radio complaining people weren’t being made aware of the consultation.”
The Tories believe knocking opposition parties as ‘enemies of the motorist’ will play well for them, though nationally polls show it’s not working. The last thing they want, though, is to allow the 20mph plan to be explained to the punters, in case they are persuaded of its merits.
The view of this Tory council, like so many and like their government, appears to be that the more the electorate is kept in ignorance the better.
In May the good people of Thurrock re-elected the Tory council who had just lost half a billion quid they gave to some bloke at the pub who promised to do them a special deal on solar power. So the same council who have therefore caused those same voters to keep on paying through the nose for services they won’t get because the council is skint. Bankrupt.
Apparently, the people of Thurrock are perfectly content with this situation. So one assumes there was not a murmur when recently a motion calling for an independent inquiry into this state of affairs was lost, on the casting vote of the mayor. (Step forward Councillor Susan Little… Conservative). It seems the controlling Tory group saw no reason for further investigation, certainly none that included judicial oversight or that would identify those responsible for the calamity. And their voters agree with them.
The scandal of Suffolk’s special educational needs provision has been recognised for years, but nothing has been done.
Until now. Suffolk County Council have got rid of two senior members of staff, except that complaining voices from those in the know suggest they are the wrong people.
Sue Cook (director of children’s services) left suddenly, it was claimed for family reasons. Then Allan Cadzow (corporate director of children and young people) was next to go. The redundancies – or whatever they are to be called – are part of the council’s preparations for the imminent Ofsted report, which is known to be horrendous. Ms Cook and Mr Cadzow were in senior positions, and it was considered important for the council to be seen apparently to act decisively, even if badly. Somebody had to be sacrificed. Whereas, it is whispered, the real culprits are still in place.
It is possible the local taxpayers of Norfolk were not best pleased to open their Eastern Daily Press to find Norfolk County Council had lost £2.5 million in NHS payments for social care, because they failed to keep proper records.
The council claims it is owed the money, but the NHS refuses to pay. Council officers claim that the problems arose because of Covid and changes in NHS systems in processing claims: “With many thousands of such individual instances, changing organisations and changing financial and process systems, it has not been possible to track and reconcile all the transactions.”
The newspaper is not convinced and says it “beggars belief” that the situation could have arisen. In a less than persuasive attempt to make light of the affair, the council claims that they can cover the loss through using other funds, which can only mean those funds will now be short of £2.5 million. Adult social care, they claim, will not be affected.
But as opposition leader Labour’s Councillor Steve Morphew points out: “The amount of money they are writing off is enough to pay for more than 100,000 hours of valuable care.”
BREAKING NEWS… Whoever thought Rachel Reeves could ever occupy two diary entries, let alone disturb the Pecksniff Saturday morning ritual of croissants in bed. But only hours after penning the diatribe above, we find her policies are applauded by US Republican senator Chuck Grassley. He writes on Twitter: “Read Shadow Chancellor of Exchequer Reeves interview in Telegraph No tax increases and no wealth tax. She is for wealth creation She feels u don’t tax ur way out economic prob. U grow ur way out. VERY REAGANESQUE”.
Now, whatever Ms Reeves was trying to achieve by her views already criticised above, one doubts whether she looked to be lauded by the experts as a champion of Reaganesque economics. Does the lady do embarrassment, does anybody know? Senator Grassley rather makes the point your diarist laboured over yesterday, and Pecksniff will return to his croissants, smug but nevertheless alarmed, at having been shown to be right again.