Well of course this “circus” would not be happening if the government and the Prime Minister which won a landslide victory two and a half years ago had been allowed to complete its term. But the political and media class just wouldn’t have it. The author is in danger of being carried away by his own rhetoric. Good infrastructure cannot be summoned up from the vasty deep by political will. It is created through economic growth, which in turn depends on productivity, competitiveness, and high public sector standards, particularly in education. Northern Ireland’s dire performance since devolution commenced more than two decades ago reflects the fact that the modest public sector reforms implemented in England under Blair and Cameron were invariably rejected by ministers there. Abolishing competitive parliamentary elections, as Northern Ireland has effectively done under power sharing, in order to allow ministers to sit assiduously in their offices signing Ministerial Orders presented to them by their civil servants will not deliver the improvements the author demands.
I am sorry Stephen, but he is right. What is the point of the tory party? Peter Hitchens once said that it was to provide an occupation for the sons of gentleman. But now, they can’t even pass for gentleman. (I said that)
Is he suggesting that our infrastructure is superior to N Ireland’s, thanks to the better quality of leader that we select?
No reservoirs built in England for 30 years, during which time the population’s increased by at least 18% (depending on how much immigration’s been missed).
Thank goodness we had Blair’s/Cameron’s public sector reforms and competitive parliamentary elections to select ministers who do more than sit assiduously in their offices signing Ministerial Orders presented to them by their civil servants!
No, he wasn’t! I thought that was rather obvious…
He was making a comparison between the dysfunctional, trivial and short term governments in all parts of the United Kingdom. They differ in degree, not kind.
Gentlemen? There are as many gentlemen in the Toylitory party as Benidictine monks in The Orange Lodge!
Come off it! It was the Corona scam, promoted by the likes of Cummings that destroyed Boris and squandered ‘his’, yes his, landslide victory. The media and political class only moved once the Titan staggered.
This extraordinary catastrophe reads like something from an Ancient Greek Tragedy, and thus worse is to come.
Good luck with that proposition! I’m not sure the Conservative Party now would be best placed to emphasise that it was ‘all Cummings’ fault’ and that the pandemic was a ‘scam’!. How utterly pathetic in any case to blame a single political appointee. And who, by the way, appointed him?
If you think the only problem of governance in the United Kingdom was our response to coronavirus, well, what can I say – you could perhaps could get out a little more! Even more so, your estimation of Johnson (‘Titan’!!) sounds deluded given all we have seen. If the Prime Minister was so weak that he is ‘forced’ to act against his own beliefs (perhaps he doesn’t actually have any…) then he wasn’t fit to be PM in any case.
Some of us considered knew Johnson was an inconsistent charlatan with rather a distant relationship to the truth long before he was anywhere near the doors of no. 10 Downing Street. He was an utterly trivial and useless Mayor of London, mainly known for a string of pointless vanity projects (a bus that costs double that of any other on the market, a cable car to nowhere, Joanna Lumley’s ‘garden bridge’ which wasted millions. Etc. Yes, he won a landslide (though let us recall against the unelectable Jeremy Corbyn) and then identified a few issues the government would champion including ‘levelling up’. After that he seemed to think that uttering a few slogans was all that was required. He hardly ranks as one of our most hard-working heads of government!
Even on Brexit, one minute he was championing the Northern Ireland Protocol (NOT saying, note that he was signing it with a heavy heart or anything), and then later attacking the very treaty he had signed months before.
But of course the UK’s many ingrained problems can’t all or even mostly be laid at Johnson’s door – but God help us if we think people like Johnson are the solution!
I am sorry but can’t you read? “I said promoted by the likes of Cummings” …plural?
Also where is your sense of irony? (re: Titan).
What incidentally is “Some of us considered knew Johnson” supposed to mean? Or is your grammar a problem? Boris is certainly much as you describe him, but he did win the ‘Red Wall’, could any other so called Tory have done the same?
All in all a rather sour rant or to use your own limited vocabulary, “utterly pathetic “.
I think Johnson has lost the support of the public, but I agree – either carry on or call an election.
Assuming it’s ok to suspend the govt for 3 months while you have a leadership election is exactly the sort of lazy, unthinking hubris that turned people against this government in the first place!
I wouldn’t mind so much if the opposition wasn’t so utterly hopeless.
In my fevered imagination I think sometimes there are meetings with shady corporate figures who tell them ‘there’s nothing you can do. The nation is over. Pretend to do politics’
I haven’t been paying attention to the Conservative leadership contest or much else in politics in recent years. The Corbyn era did see a return of the kind of ideological political debate last seen in the early 1980s but apart from that politics has become managerial, a trend which began under New Labour. However, I believe the current dismal state of politics is largely the consequence of one scandal.
In the late 2000s The Daily Telegraph broke the story of the MPs expenses scandal. It was an excellent and important piece of journalism and it had a positive effect on how Parliament was organised. However, the reaction to the scandal wasn’t strong enough and many MPs effectively got away with fraud by paying back the money they falsely claimed and then retiring before the 2010 election to get a better pension than MPs in Parliament after 2010. The consequence of this mass exodus was that since 2010 there have been a lot of new MPs and some of them got into the Cabinet within five years of first being elected. The greasy pole has got shorter.
The only candidate in the Conservative leadership contest who was an MP before 2010 was Jeremy Hunt (who was first elected in 2005). The rest were first elected in 2010 (Truss, Mordaunt, Zahawi), 2015 (Sunak, Tugendhat, Braverman) or 2017 (Badenoch). Winston Churchill didn’t become Prime Minister until nearly 40 years after he first became an MP. The United Kingdom is being governed by novices.
Sorry to get distracted by this detail, but I find it remarkable that you think “[t]he Corbyn era did see a return of the kind of ideological political debate last seen in the early 1980s (…).” Were the early 1980s really that bad? I can’t dispute this because I have no memory of it, but Corbyn brought the sort of ideological debate that you can see any day in any undergraduate student union. It’s barely excusable coming from stoned undergraduates and should not meet the standard of a major political party.
Sorry if I didn’t explain my point clearly enough. What I meant was that the Corbyn era was the first time since the early 1980s that there were large ideological differences between the Conservative Party and the Labour Party. After Thatcher’s massive Falklands War-assisted victory over Foot in 1983 Kinnock and Blair took Labour to the right and when New Labour were in power the Conservatives eventually had to shift to the left under Cameron. Between 1994 and 2010 the middle ground of British politics became increasingly crowded and lots of voters on both sides of the political spectrum were left without a party that put forward the policies they wanted.
Corbyn took Labour way to the left and that created a political spectrum more like that of the early 1980s and gave voters a clearer choice. For Labour the 2019 election result was like 1983 and now Starmer is hoping to achieve what Blair did in 1997 but is more likely to achieve what Kinnock did in 1992 and leave the Tories with a majority that isn’t big enough to govern effectively (not that they have been able to govern effectively for at least the last six years).
Thank you for taking the time to write this. Now I understand better.
In the great days of Ancient Rome you couldn’t get into the Senate until you were 24, nor hold serious office until 30, nor be CEO until you were 42.
This is probably why Edward Luttwak described it as the “most successful experiment in governance in human history “, (or words to that effect.)
The modern Masturbatory party merely requires a large triangular polyester tie knot, and the ability to pronounce ‘ one’ as ” wonne”…
The republic? It became a despotic empire. Which might be the way its all going.
“The United Kingdom is being governed by novices.”
Spot on! Inexperienced, clueless and all completely out of their depth.
The first Prime Minister of the 20th Century was Robert Gascoyne-Cecil (who was then in his third spell as Prime Minister) and he was an MP for over 30 years before he became PM and the same can be said for Henry Campbell-Bannerman, Anthony Eden, Harold Macmillan, Alec Douglas-Home and James Callaghan. When Stanley Baldwin became Prime Minister in 1923 he had been an MP for 15 years and no-one with less Parliamentary experience became PM until 1990 when John Major became Prime Minister after less than 12 years in Parliament. David Cameron became Prime Minister less than ten years after he was first elected as an MP and he retired before he was 50. At that age Churchill and Attlee were over ten years away from moving into 10 Downing Street.
Rishi Sunak could become Prime Minister after less than eight years in Parliament.
“We deserve better than this”
Cliche, boilerplate, “our leaders aren’t good enough” tripe.
I don’t care if it’s true. Let’s have an article tries to find the better parts of Truss’s program, or that points out something we still do well. Telling us there’s nothing to be done, we’re in decline, it’s all over, our leaders are awful is just a Peter Hitchens tribute act. Might as well off ourselves if its all over!
You’re usually better than this.
Exactly, and let us hope for a return of Boris; There is still life in the old beast yet, as much of the Red Wall would agree.
Geoffrey, we have had twelve years of Conservative government. Achievements? Net Zero, Zero Energy, Open Borders.
In other words we have endured a contradiction in terms, a nominal Tory Government that is virtually indistinguishable from Labour, ie packed with pathetic ‘pseuds’ from Quislington.
A harsh but fair judgement!
I don’t think that Labour administrations would have presided over the disastrous evisceration of our public services and out-of-control escalation in fiscal inequalities.
The Labour Party ceased to be a party of the working class decades ago. Keep up man!
Quislington! love it!
The originator of this splendid expletive is one Fraser Bailey Esq, a redoubtable commentator on this site, who is currently on his hols.
Five years of Cleggery, five years if Brexit mania under a rotten Parliament, and two years of Covid and now a destabilising war, you mean?
No, I mean 12 years of a conservative government with a (nominally) conservative prime minister.
Result? Net Zero, Zero Energy, Open Borders.
It is all over. We are currently experiencing a cadeveric spasm. However, there is no need to take any action as rigor mortis will occur at any moment. It amazes me that so many people are blind to the fact that cardiac arrest occurred sometime around the turn of the century. Cyanosis took hold around 2008 and the brain stem ceased to generate electrical signals in about 2016.
There must be better ways of choosing a prime minister, or of running a country, than this strange performance.
Almost certainly so… but choosing a Prime Minister and running a country are two separate things. The two things may be correlated but there is a vast confusion over causation. That the “Prime Minister runs the country” is a lazy narrative that journalists prefer because it simplifies complex issues.
I have been paying no attention to these performing fleas, but I did catch snippets of their respective presentations when my wife turned on the tv (I warned her).They are even more absurd than I had expected.
I don’t blame individual party members, but I can’t help feeling that the party faithful seem to be incapable of learning from past experience.
However, what the circus has done is to shine an intense light on a pair of rising stars, Suella Braverman and Kemi Badenoch, both of whom will play strategic roles in any new administration and who offer the hope of reform that real conservatives can support.
They will be outnumbered and outvoted. The vast majority of Tory MPs are Liberals in disguise.
Truss the PM would do well to ask Badenoch for advice and then do that.
Kemi has a clear political philosophy which she uses to analyse the current situation and produce workable solutions. Her engineering background gives her an evidence-based approach which is much less likely either to blow with the wind or be bent by ideology.
Why are the ‘big three’ not represented in N.I? They seem disenfranchised to me.
Back in London, what are the Tories doing allowing some unelected 1922 Committee to drag this farce out to September 5th while a crisis gathers force?
I’m surprised the fringe Parties, Reform, Reclaim, SDP, Libertarians are not forming alliances to provide a dissenting voice similar to PR against the LibLabCon failure. Not all MPs are pro Sunak or Truss.
‘Wielding a smile like a scalpel’ – heh
Lucky old Belfast. Sunak is an oily-garch, a less repellent George Osborne who could do wonders for the high-flying Indian diaspora like himself and the missus.
Liz sounds like a provincial councillor thrilled to be able to say “and tonight, Matthew, I’m going to be Margaret Thatcher”, her previous 15 minutes having seen her voted off ‘Bake Off’ in the early rounds. You can certainly see why she has more appeal to the blazers and blue-rinses in the network of homes for mental cripples this end-of-the-pier show is touring.
“…..the two squabbling representatives of what is now less a political party than a trade union for affluent pensioners in southeast”
And abandoned Blue Labour/Red Wall voters. Is there a reason this group was conveniently left off your singular grouping? That you care not a jot to mention such a pivotal and critical mass, leaves an aroma of Islington Fauxcialism lingering among the prose.
That the Tories are the best of a very bad bunch is indisputable, but who do you posit replaces them, or than the in-house promotion…take your time – let the tumbleweed pass.
The ‘farce’ you speak of is actually the fulcrum around which the party will turn for at least two years.
A bloody “austerity II’ of the sociopathic, numeraly illiterate, soiled pants that were George Osborne, …. as now proposed by Richy Spinak? Or the interventionist realpolitik of Truss trying to manage ‘events’ on the hoof? ( for there is no other way, in these times).
It may seem theatrical…but it’s out there.
Who among the opposition dares to state intent, rather than merely condemn the fact that the world can be cruel, and blame the holder of the hot potatoes?
The central problem the Tories have is that the membership lacks political judgment when they come to select their leader.
They selected Johnson, ignoring his lack of principles etc. Now they will select Truss with promises of tax-cuts.
To make appropriate policy choices, any party needs a deliberative process, analysis by a clear political philosophy and checked with experts. We don’t need back-of-the-envelope plans drawn up the night before by potential leaders teams.
No circus that I have ever been to consisted entirely of clowns… oops, sorry… I mean ‘ cleowns”…
It is quite shocking that Unherd should further demonstrate its partiality for Liz Truss by showing her wearing a Union Jack top and red, white and blue accessories, while Rishi Sunak is shown in yellow with cartoon features.
You demonstrate all the signs of racial discrimination by this representation.
.Shame on you!
Well i for one wasn’t ‘triggered’ into shock by what I considered to be nothing more than a humorous cartoon, ‘racial discrimination’, surely not. Could it be more like Truss the intellectual lightweight sporting rather outdated (in the eyes of fashion conscious liberals) ‘union-jack’ garb with token EU boxing gloves to appeal to their tastes, compared to the yellow-clad ‘golden-boy’ with the Midas touch to re-invigorate the economy. That’s how I perceive it. Should I be offended…