Subscribe
Notify of
guest

89 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Simon Cornish
Simon Cornish
5 months ago

I think the author is too fixated on the uselessness, as he see it, of the Conservative governments since 2010. An equally excoriating analysis could be applied to any number of seemingly successful countries such as France, Germany and the US to name just a few. Myriad factors, often international in origin, are making it increasingly difficult for any government in a western Liberal democracy to earn enough through growth, to pay for our evermore expensive public services. It’s the times we are currently living through that are the determining our condition rather than necessarily the quality of the government.

Last edited 5 months ago by Simon Cornish
neil sheppard
neil sheppard
5 months ago
Reply to  Simon Cornish

Agreed, but the quality of Governments in the UK has been woeful since at least 2005. 18 years!! We cannot go on like this, spraying public money around to absolutely no effect. I doubt Mr Starmer will be much better, but we will no doubt soon find out.

Matt M
Matt M
5 months ago
Reply to  neil sheppard

Just look at the Wilson/Heath/Wilson/Callaghan years if you want woeful government. Or Anthony Eden’s stretch. Or the demise of the MacMillan government. Or Chamberlain and appeasement. Or Ramsay MacDonald’s abortive attempts. Or Herbert Asquith bumbling into WW1. Or John Major’s sorry term and a half. Or Gordon Brown’s. Or the Blair government falling apart due to Iraq and the returning body bags. Or the assassination of Maggie by the Wets.

And that is before you get into previous centuries!

Poor government is the norm in Britain (and in every other country).

Last edited 5 months ago by Matt M
rogerdog Wsw
rogerdog Wsw
5 months ago
Reply to  neil sheppard

The one chance we had was the Truss government except the globalist WEF, Establishment and Bank of England constructed her removal.

Andrew Wise
Andrew Wise
5 months ago
Reply to  rogerdog Wsw

True to some extent but unfortunately she was useless
 it was her mistake to start a war with the blob without preparing her armies first.
she has set the true conservative cause back by years.
right ideas, absolutely lousy implementation

Iris C
Iris C
5 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Wise

She had no support in parliament. She only got 50 votes in the first ballot. Rishi Sunak had an overwhelming majority in parliament but the Tory members voted her in. Why? I could give a reason but I will leave you to work that out for yourselves

John Turnbull
John Turnbull
5 months ago
Reply to  rogerdog Wsw

She represents the worst of the English class system. Her policy was clearly that those who have should have more. And those who have less have only themselves to blame. When will we learn to change our aristocracy into a democracy?

Samuel Davies
Samuel Davies
5 months ago
Reply to  rogerdog Wsw

I agree she had the theory right, but terribly executed. She did not read the room, or get the right people/institutions on board to help her persuade the room.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
5 months ago
Reply to  Samuel Davies

More victim blaming.

Rosemary Throssell
Rosemary Throssell
5 months ago
Reply to  neil sheppard

Where exactly has the public money been “sprayed” around?

Alex Stonor
Alex Stonor
5 months ago

Could it be: ( during covid) the furlough scheme, Eat out to help out, stamp duty holiday, covid loans to business (that will never be paid back),educational catch-up scheme’s, HS2, the domestic fuel top-up scheme (the crisis could have been averted with pro-active government intervention),…I’m sure I can think of a few more.

P N
P N
5 months ago
Reply to  neil sheppard

Where are you getting your data from? In 2019 the UK was doing pretty well by almost every economic measure. We could obviously have been doing better but woeful is an exaggeration.

Simon Wellings
Simon Wellings
5 months ago
Reply to  Simon Cornish

Circumstances exist and always have. It’s the job of government to deal with them effectively. The fundamental problem is that the Tory party – in its current form at least – believes otherwise. They believe that government is the problem, not the solution. As a consequence, they do as little as possible, and that reluctantly, with no strategic thought other than how to spin things to their own political advantage. This is evidenced by the fact that now, when their abject failure is revealed beyond doubt, they ignore completely the real problems faced by the citizens of the country, and focus instead on demonising powerless migrants who haven’t the means to defend themselves, and whining about fabricated abstractions like ‘wokeness’.

Your comment reveals a depressingly supine attitude. Please don’t just throw up your hands and say it’s terrible everywhere and all politicians are the same. We are capable of more than this.

Pedro the Exile
Pedro the Exile
5 months ago
Reply to  Simon Wellings

They believe that government is the problem, not the solution. 
Oh if that were only the case!!!On every metric available -regulation. tax legislation and tax take, ,public sector employment, public spending as a %GDP quango proliferation etc-this is a Party that believes in big Government and an intrusive state (and lets not even reference the Covid fiasco).

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
5 months ago
Reply to  Simon Wellings

Your faith in government is astounding. The people in charge of dealing with the problems they create begins with the fact that a tiny chosen few toddle off to university on infant legs to get patted on the head and told they will soon take their rightful place in the world’s star chambers. They’re about as capable of managing solutions to great challenges as they are to changing a washer in the kitchen sink.
Thus we get the likes of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Justin Trudeau and mommy-marrier Emanuel Macron, Angela Merkel, Jacinda Ahearn and Ursula von der Leyden, Rishi Sunak and Sadiq Khan. They surround themselves with wealthy seedlings of similar ilk, attend all the fancy meetings with the world’s richest villains, and then return home to impose their freshman-level ideas on the countries they continue to ruin.
All politicians, however, are not the same. We also have the murderous Putins, the criminally corrupt Zelenskyys, the police-state Xis, the mullahs, the phony kings, the criminals running terrorist organizations – need I go on? Is there a statesman among any of these people? A man or woman of vision, conviction, capability, integrity?
For every Ron DeSantis, you get an infection of people like the aforementioned. And I have my doubts about him, too.

Bruce Jollimore
Bruce Jollimore
5 months ago

Good observation and clarity with a willingness to participate. You are an inspiration, I hope you can inspire the youth to observe with a clear vision and participate in shaping a global community that works for everyone.

Matt F
Matt F
5 months ago

Surely unfair to lump Volodymyr Zelenskyy in with certain others in the above list. Inheriting a corrupt culture, a common problem in young democracies, (and also in a few older ones I could mention) does not make one necessarily complicit. Despite facing other domestic problems which dwarf those of all the others mentioned above, he has nonetheless made a start in combating this – a key pledge of his election manifesto. If rallying allies to assist with fighting off an invasion by a tyrannical neighbor isn’t statesmanship, I’m unsure what is.

Kenneth Giles
Kenneth Giles
5 months ago
Reply to  Simon Wellings

So, how do you propose to fix it?

Simon Cornish
Simon Cornish
5 months ago
Reply to  Simon Wellings

My intention wasn’t to exonerate the conservative government and suggest they have performed particularly well, it was to observe that no other government in liberal democracies seem to be managing any better. The common factor is the increasingly complex condition of the world and unexpected events.
If one pairs down the purpose of government to its fundamentals, they are tasked to help create conditions to help the economy to grow to help finance all the other priorities they might have. The other fundamental is of course to make the departments that run the services as efficient and cost effective as possible.
Since 2010, rather that setting a vision to achieve all this in a systematic way, the Conservatives have had a lot of their energy and focus diverted to firefighting one international crisis after another; financial crisis, (depleting national income,) Brexit,(will of the people and couldn’t be ignored), Covid, (depleting national income and adverse social impact), Ukraine war
( depleting national income and fuelling inflation).
Try and encourage economic growth and be able to protect or let alone enhance public services with all that to contend with.
Labour has no obvious vision to get us our of this mess; they will be firefighting as well.

Martin Butler
Martin Butler
5 months ago
Reply to  Simon Cornish

Just wonder if Labour had been in for the last 13 years with the same record you’d try to excuse it like this?

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
5 months ago
Reply to  Simon Cornish

Agree. Note how the author writes only of 13 Years of Misrule and failed ‘Government’. Fair cop. Cameron May Fool Johnson are all failures. But national failure is systemic – hardwired and baked into the Blairite New Constitutional Order which began in 1997 . As I write below, so many of the deep set structural crises (EU regulations & HRights lawfare property energy education regional welfare climate) have their roots in the new technocratic devolved order New Labour created and those Non Tory liberal Wets like the Proud Woke May actually bolstered. It is 26 Years of Misrule, not the grubby last 13. This failure is preordained – and permanent given the appalling Blob & detached wfh public sector never ever faces democratic scrutiny.

Jane Hewland
Jane Hewland
5 months ago
Reply to  Simon Cornish

But at some point over the past 40 years – and I suspect it was during the Blair governments – the function of government became to secure and retain power, rather than to actually govern. Problems are no longer thought to be soluble, so the approach is to utter soothing words that suggest something is being done, while kicking the can down the road. It is the flaw in democracy. Government often requires doing things that are not popular. But elections are popularity contests. Hence policies being decided on the basis of opinion polls rather than any kind of logical thinking.

Martin Butler
Martin Butler
5 months ago
Reply to  Simon Cornish

This is all to general and doesn’t actually address the specific problems. Is the social care crisis in the UK really similar to other countries? Are the health care waiting lists just as bad in comparable countries? Are the prisons in France, Germany, the Netherlands, just as bad as they are in the UK ? Is child care in the UK no more expensive than in similar countries? Are poverty rates in UK just the same as the European average? Is renting in European countries just as insecure as it is in the UK? I think you’ll find that the UK comes out pretty badly on most of these measures.
We might have taken back control in theory but we don’t seem to be able to control things in a positive way that actually affects ordinary people’s lives.

William Edward Henry Appleby
William Edward Henry Appleby
5 months ago
Reply to  Simon Cornish

Sure, but do I want to be told that all the other governments are just as bad? I don’t live in those other countries. I want the government of my country to have the vision and courage to make the UK the best place to live. The Tories don’t have a vision, other than responding to immediate vote-winning issues, and they haven’t had any courage since Maggie went.

Rob Britton
Rob Britton
5 months ago

The fascinating thing is that such a useless government has managed to limp on for thirteen years. Maybe it is because the alternative, Labour, is even more useless. Increasingly British voters are facing a Hobson’s choice over who to elect as their government.

Simon Phillips
Simon Phillips
5 months ago
Reply to  Rob Britton

Quite. We are about to see the catastrophe that is Kier Starmer and his merry band of nobodies make things even worse.

Samuel Davies
Samuel Davies
5 months ago
Reply to  Simon Phillips

No political skills, experience or unity (they may appear united atm but that’s easy in opposition)

Sam Hill
Sam Hill
5 months ago
Reply to  Rob Britton

This though I think strikes at the heart of the problem. What we have is political parties that have been hollowed out of purpose of mass participation. They are simply vehicles for securing power. The Conservative Party (and Sunak) may be a symptom, but the problem with them is just more visible because they have been in power. Political parties are crucial to democracy and to civil society. It’s just that the parties are not strong enough now to fend off bad trends. You may be right to identify Sunak as a globalist tech type. But Keir Starmer, a man who knelt for BLM is hardly in a position to paint himself as a man who rose above bad trends. Perhaps there never really was a golden age of parties of course, but now we have parties that simply do not capture their critical civil society role. In their defense I don’t believe that Sunak or Starmer personally don’t see the problems, rather they just have no base that allows them to do anything meaningful about it – hence we get initiatives rather than policy. Similarly the Sunak v Truss contest did undoubtedly give the issues of the day a serious airing – I don’t doubt the sincerity (or even he quality) of that contest, I doubt whether those debating and participating did so from a broad enough base and a coherent enough world view.
All parties have experimented with this idea of having members elect leaders and therefore potential PMs. That has given us Corbyn, IDS, Cameron, Swinson, Johnson, Truss, Yousaf…The problem is not the individuals – the problem is that political parties themselves are no longer sensitive to civil society and so are not effectively filtering their leaders. Too often they capture and are led by fads, most obviously multiculturalism.
UKIP were able to get some traction across classic party lines (particularly where PR came into play) and can claim success to the extent that a LEAVE vote was secured, but ultimately that was a single issue flash in the pan. What UKIP and LEAVE did was perhaps show something of a way forward. Labour and Conservative in their current form are really the products of a time gone by.
Keir Starmer will have to face the same problems of course. He backed the catastrophic lockdown restrictions. He’s a net zero man. He’s backed some of the worst of the borrow and spend approach, notably triple lock pensions. He worships the NHS. As I say, he knelt for BLM. He believes in the supranational and intergovernmental institutions. Before the election he’s going to have to confront Israel/Gaza and he likely will be the PM that has to confront the fact that East Ukraine and Zelenskiiy are lost causes. What has happened to Sunak will over time happen to Starmer.
The problem is not necessarily the people being apathetic to politics, it’s a party structure system thing, and that’s a much bigger problem that’s not the fault really of any individual.

Paul MacDonnell
Paul MacDonnell
5 months ago

Sunak “inherited … a colossal economic mess” from himself.

tom j
tom j
5 months ago

I wish I had your faith in the ability of the British political class to direct the global economy!

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
5 months ago

Liz Truss acted with too much urgency, and too little care, but Rishi Sunak has been too much the opposite: steady as she goes just doesn’t cut it, either for the party or the country. Nevertheless this analysis is disingenuous because of the lack of comparison – either to the performance of the UK’s European peers over the same period, or to the counterfactual – how would the country have fared under Labour, based on what they were demanding at the time. The Opposition have a role in influencing what is politically possible, especially when they have the support of so much of the mainstream media. In fact, Labour have been generally demanding more of what is dragging the UK down – more borrowing, faster Net Zero, more regulation, more taxes, more concessions to the EU on the sea border, weaker controls over immigration, and certainly far less education reform (which should be listed as a relative Tory success). The debt to GDP reference is certainly disingenuous. It was certain to rise rapidly from 65% in 2010 due to the banks’ bailout and the size of the existing deficit. Apart from that, all of the subsequent increase was down to Lockdown, which Labour wanted to be longer and harder.

Last edited 5 months ago by Stephen Walsh
rogerdog Wsw
rogerdog Wsw
5 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Very clever of Sunak, from his evil perspective, to evict Truss in a coup by his supporters and then to put all the blame for the economic mess, created largely by himself, onto Truss/Kwasi and her 40 odd days as PM.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
5 months ago

Rishi Sunak’s Annus Horriblis’ (sic – it should be Horribilis) was a rather jarring headline to see alongside The curse of the Dutch sodomite”.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
5 months ago

The elephant in this particular room is the emergency of a trans-national deep state across the western world. Armed with rafts of legislation and politicised civil servants, it is hampering all governments in their efforts to address real problems and to withdraw from stale, failed “solutions”. Note the relative efficiency of Salvini in stopping migration and compare poor Meloni’s woeful floundering. Note the inability of the UK government to junk a useless railway and the whitewash “enquiry” now looking into Covid and “lockdown”; these are just three of the most flagrant instances…

Last edited 5 months ago by Simon Denis
Matt M
Matt M
5 months ago

Brexit, regaining of parliamentary sovereignty, is a huge achievement of this government and shouldn’t be underplayed. It was done in the teeth of entrenched Establishment opposition. Sure, we are still to see some of the obvious benefits – reduction in immigration and a US/UK FTA – but they will come in time. Next we need to regain control of our law by leaving the ECHR.

Martin Butler
Martin Butler
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

Only trouble is it was won – certainly for many leave voters – on the immigration issue although immigration is now twice as high as before.

Matt M
Matt M
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

Yep – I was one of those voters. It still needs to be addressed by our politicians but it was impossible prior to Brexit. Brexit was a pre-requisite to immigration control.
According to the 2022 census, we had an average of 400k net immigrants per year from the EU’s A12 expansion in 2003 to 2019. We had a drop in 2020/21 due to lockdowns and then ramp up to 600k in 2022. (Incidentally only the numbers from 2021 and 2022 are actual counts, prior to that they were all very inaccurate estimates based on self-reporting by travellers at airports).
Prior to the eastern expansion of the EU we had about 100k net per year and that is where we need to get back to. That was impossible while we had an open border with the EU.
A growing problem is illegal immigration (though asylum applications are not yet as high as it was in 2002).
We will see how the Supreme Court Rwanda judgement comes out but control of the dinghies might well require resiling from the ECHR.
Like Lord Sumption, I believe that would be a good thing in its own right regardless of its impact on illegal immigration numbers.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

Sadly most of the opportunity of BREXIT was squandered in the May years. She is only partially to blame as there were too many remoaners on both sides (Starmer being the key one on the Labour side) who hoped that by making the task of getting a good deal as difficult as possible would ultimately lead to either a second referendum or just giving up on leaving (the history of EU referendums is full of countries who have ended up just ignoring the result).
I agree with leaving ECHR as we should have done it at the time, but I don’t see it as a catalyst for turning things round now.

Matt M
Matt M
5 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

All true Adrian – the hated Remanier Parliament was an abomination and Starmer’s role in it a disgrace.

Last edited 5 months ago by Matt M
Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
5 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

Lol. Yes 48% is such an annoyingly big minority, isn’t it? Of course, it’s more that now, but we are where we are and I accept it. I’m no particular fan of the ECHR but leaving it will not make one jot of difference to our terminal decline.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
5 months ago

Ouch. That’s an impressive list of failures when you stack them up like that.

P N
P N
5 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

But largely wrong. Britain was doing well in 2019 then we got Covid. Did you think we wouldn’t have to pay for Covid?

Mark Goodhand
Mark Goodhand
5 months ago

Besides, Sunak represented competence. …He also had credit in the bank from his time as Chancellor, having found the money to keep everyone in work during the pandemic — with enough to buy us a cheap meal to boot

Did anyone really think that his COVID spending splurge was a sign of competence?!

Alex Vanderlip
Alex Vanderlip
5 months ago
Reply to  Mark Goodhand

I’d suggest that he had little choice. Given the government’s general reliance upon the scientific imperative to lock down generated by SAGE, failing to provide financial support would have been akin to putting a patient into an induced coma without a drip or feeding tube.

Albireo Double
Albireo Double
5 months ago

“Is it that he inherited such a colossal economic mess that popularity is all but impossible?”
Well, no. Because as the chancellor who blew (and totally wasted) the best part of half-a-trillion on our COVID “response”, Sunak actually created most of the very mess that he then inherited (from himself).
 

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
5 months ago

Fine – bosh Rishi, a moral technocrat with no gut political instincts. But as ever in rightly attacking the record of the ‘Government’ we completely miss the bigger horror. Our failure is systemic and permanent – because the word Government is now outdated. The idea of a unitary vertical singular Government is absurd – the Executive which yes takes responsibility for everything is no longer commanding the ship! Authority has been devolved disolved diasabled and now it is insane even to regard the Civil Service as a neutral supporter of The Govt. Co reslonsibility for our 20 year national decline sits with the army of utterly appalling unelected progressive technocrats with levers of power on Net Zero, interest rates/QE,, the broken NHS and many more regulatory areas.
They STAY! We cannot get rid of these permanent failures..ever. The UKs problems – welfarism/mass uncontrolled immigration/ profligate bailout socialism/ chronic indebtness and deep crises in energy and labour and health markets – are beyond both actors. The temporary weak inhabitants of Downing St and the Communist Party like Technocracy.

Richard M
Richard M
5 months ago

This government is a shit-show, or rather a succession of shit-shows loosely strung together by the Conservative Party leadership selection process.
To be fair, its astonishing they’ve lasted this long, given the circumstances under which they came to power and the various crises they’ve overseen. But then they were aided and abetted by Labour disappearing up their own fundament and choosing first Miliband, E then “the Absolute Boy” as leader. Two politicians less likely to be made Prime Minister by the British electorate, it is hard to imagine.
Sunak is basically Grand Admiral Donitz, the German High Commander who was briefly President of Germany between Hitler’s suicide and the end of the war, where his job was to try to salvage as much dignity as he could in defeat.*
Sunak knows the gig is up. He will quit politics shortly after the next election to take up some sort of ambassadorial role within financial services and business, leveraging his banking contacts and connections with UK and Indian business, no doubt.
(* NB: I am not comparing Sunak or the Conservative Party to the Nazis in respect of their political philosophy. I am merely drawing parallels between the situations.)

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
5 months ago

Sadly though anyone who thinks Starmer is going to do any better after the next election is deluding themselves.
“our governing class isn’t fit for purpose” is NOT confined to the Tories.
Blair inherited a golden legacy, largely down to crashing out of the ERM under Major and then not being able to join the Euro, which was totally destroyed by the end of the Blair / Brown years. Cameron hoped he could turn the trend round, but the downward trend of the whole of western society is a far stronger tide than he or any other western leader can possibly swim against.
They all pretend they have the answers but they don’t. It is all just vacuous spin, which is becoming ever more vacuous. The reason why politicians love issues like climate change is it allows them to parade around on the international stage and pretend there is some point to having them.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
5 months ago

The decline started in 1997 and the failure of the Blair/Brown governments was exposed by the 2008 financial crash. The Tories have merely failed to reverse those policies or worse have doubled down on them. Interestingly, no mention of foreign wars. Cameron followed Blair’s disastrous example and got involved in Libya and would have done the same in Syria, had the voters not made their feelings clear to their MPs.
We have a political class with no experience of managing anything beyond an election campaign.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
5 months ago

Today is St Crispin’s Day. Lest we forget: –

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=A-yZNMWFqvM

Last edited 5 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Geoff W
Geoff W
5 months ago

You have to go back 600 years to find something good about your country?

Rob Britton
Rob Britton
5 months ago
Reply to  Geoff W

I’m intrigued what that good thing could be. Agincourt?

Geoff W
Geoff W
5 months ago
Reply to  Rob Britton

You got together and beat the Frogs, innit.

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
5 months ago
Reply to  Geoff W


 and no one can take that away from us.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
5 months ago
Reply to  Geoff W

Don’t be silly, Geoff. Only last week Charles was reminding us of Trafalgar, a mere 218 years ago.

Geoff W
Geoff W
5 months ago

I was genuinely surprised that he didn’t reference Churchill.
I suppose it’s because there wasn’t an anniversary.
(Before everyone piles on: I admire Churchill.)

Matt M
Matt M
5 months ago

Happy St Crispin’s, Charles.

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
5 months ago

We found a dead frog under the wood burner that we called Crispin.

rogerdog Wsw
rogerdog Wsw
5 months ago

“He had, after all, warned the Conservative Party that Liz Truss would cause an economic crisis.”
The demise of the Truss administration following the mini-budget has been widely attributed to the market’s reaction to the expectation of unfunded borrowing occasioned by tax cuts and the fuel price cap.
To the contrary: the market’s behaviour was quite clearly a response to the actions — and inactions — of the Bank of England, before, during and after the mini-budget. 
Given the well-known dynamic impact of lowered tax rates, this change would arguably have been revenue neutral or even beneficial; even without any dynamic benefit, it could have cost at most £2 billion in tax revenue. That is a rounding error compared to the amounts already absorbed by the market and a fraction of the costs Rishi Sunak has accepted at COP 27 — to which the markets have reacted entirely complacently. It is just not credible to blame the mini-budget for the market turmoil.

P N
P N
5 months ago

Cold evaluation? Is it? How about looking at some data?
McTague talks about the last 13 years. For the first nine of those, the data suggest things were pretty good.
In 2019 the UK had record low unemployment and record high employment. It had record low levels of absolute poverty, low inflation and reasonable growth compared to the rest of the G7. Crucially it had the lowest budget deficit since 2002 and it had strong real wage growth between 2014 and 2019.
Then we got Covid. Sunak didn’t “find the money” to keep everyone in work during the pandemic. He borrowed and the Bank of England monetised ÂŁ400 billion. Did you think we wouldn’t have to pay for it? Oh!
Since 2010 the Tories had to deal with the fallout from the GFC, Brexit (which was their own fault) and Covid. If you cherry pick data from just after Covid then of course we haven’t had growth whilst they’ve been in power. But you also can’t say the 13 years have been all bad, given the data before Covid. Cold evaluation says that the first nine years were actually highly competent and the country was in good shape.
It is worth mentioning that although Sunak wasn’t “finding the money” he was shaking the magic money tree, HM Opposition wasn’t opposing him but arguing for more money and more lockdown. Then imagine where we’d be!

George Venning
George Venning
5 months ago
Reply to  P N

I’m going to say from the off that I’m not an economist but, to the extent that I have been able to check the figures, they seem right. And, if the figures are somehow misleading – missing important bits of context for example – then I don’t know where to find that context.
What I can say is that I’m not sure that the numbers you cite encapsultate how the country felt in 2019. The mushrooming growth of foodbanks, the benefit sanctions, the collapsing rates of homeownership, the ruinously expensive childcare, the growth in personal indebtedness… Those things weren’t invented by Guardian columnists. How do you reconcile the statistics you’re citing with those (slightly) softer measures?
But I also wanted to ask you a specific question. You put the figures for the cost of the Pandemic response at ÂŁ400bn. The big piece of that, which everyone focusses on was the furlough scheme. But the price tag I’ve seen on that is ÂŁ70bn.
Do you know what other spending made up the remainder?

P N
P N
5 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

I wouldn’t pretend to be an expert on the Covid figures but ÂŁ400 billion was the amount reported by the BBC. There’s an article on its website dated 22 March 2022 “Covid-19: How much has it cost?”
We can’t measure feelings but we can look at economic data and measure those. We can compare good times with bad times purely by using measurements. Anything else is necessarily going to be biased and cherry picked. I’m sure some people felt worse off, some people felt better off. No economy is perfect and there will always be winners and losers. My point is not that 2019 was perfect, that would be ludicrous, but it was much much better than the lazy narrative and I think you’d struggle to find a mythical golden age when life was better.
The reality is the whole of the West is in decline; we are living beyond our means. Even during austerity we were borrowing from our children and grandchildren. That’s the ultimate taxation without representation. Those things you mention – foodbanks, benefit sanctions, expensive childcare – those are symptoms not causes of the West’s malaise. You’re asking for more of things we cannot afford.

George Venning
George Venning
5 months ago
Reply to  P N

On the Covid response cost, I’ve seen the same figure bandied about and it’s interesting isn’t it? Furlough was the big, expensive policy and, at ÂŁ70bn, the cost seems about right – if the workforce is 30m and, say 20% of people claimed it then the cost is about ÂŁ12k/claimant or about four months wages at the ÂŁ35k limit.
What on earth did we spend the other ÂŁ330bn on?
https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-9309/
This is from the HoC Library and it’s startlingly uninformative.
Intriguingly, it also says that government spending was around ÂŁ125bn higher than anticipated for the year. Two plausible explanations occur. The first is that expenditure which would have occurred anyway was re-classified as Covid expenditure for some reason.
The second is that the Government spent vastly more propping up the stock market (through QE or whatever) than it spent supporting people. (And then Tory backbenches blamed inflation on “idlers” sitting on their backsides claiming the furlough payments)
As to the other point about 2019. There was no golden age. But there is a real question about why life seems notably harder and less secure for, say, the bottom half of the income distribution than it did in e.g. the late 90s – despite the economy apparently being in much better shape and despite all the improvement in productivity since then.
And the obvious answer would appear to be something like this. The last 20 years have seen both slowing growth and increasingly unequal distribution of wealth. House prices have grown faster than wages so that the share of income going to mortgages and rent has ballooned, moreover, previously free things (notably university) have become not only expensive but, increasingly a precondition of employment whilst wages have not risen accordingly.
And this brings the two issues back together, If the government’s spending priorities in the pandemic were actually focussed on propping up asset prices rather than individual incomes then we can see why we’re in the brown and sticky now.

P N
P N
5 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

The Government has never propped up the stock market. You have just made that up to suit your world view.
I agree with you about house prices. The loose monetary policy and QE (which props up the bond market to support government borrowing, not the stockmarket, and is the remit of the “independent” BoE, not the Government) caused an asset price boom. This was, however, a pre-Covid phenomenon. I don’t think you can simply attribute the vast proportion of the ÂŁ400 billion to “propping up the stockmarket” with zero evidence.

George Venning
George Venning
5 months ago
Reply to  P N

I take your point about QE and the bond market – rather than the stock market. But, the reason I present no evidence is because I don’t know how the Government came up with ÂŁ400bn as the cost of the covid response since the most expensive policy – furlough – represents no more than 20% of that figure.
I also pointed out that, since total expenditure was only ÂŁ125bn higher than anticipated, perhaps, the ÂŁ400bn figure was actually a chimera – including lots of money that would have been spent anyway.
I don’t deny having a world view, but I’m not bending evidence to fit – I’m just speculating.

Malcolm Webb
Malcolm Webb
5 months ago

Poor government is pretty much the norm – here and elsewhere around the globe. What makes it much worse is when the politicians take ever more control of our lives and the economy, trying to “fix” things they truly don’t understand – like industry, business and energy supply to take but three glaring examples. They should restrain themselves and provide a secure and level playing field where people can prosper and grow and be allowed to become responsible citizens . Instead they undermine individual effort and responsibility by constantly interfering and arrogantly believing they know more than the sum of the knowledge and experience of those whom they “govern”. They still see us as serfs and we increasingly see them as dangerous fools. We need politicians who will set us free – to make our own ( much less dangerous) mistakes and grow our own lives and futures – not the ones they stupidly plan for us.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
5 months ago

We have too much government which means that people become passive and unambitious. I had a business which I’m forced to close down due to ever-changing government regulations and tax rules. As a result I am now in the process of selling my assets and moving to another less-regulated part of the world. There is no reward any more for hard work or initiative.

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
5 months ago

He’s done pretty well with a hopeless situation, casting doubt into voters minds about the insipid Sir Keir.
The problem is that he’s seen as an overly liberal, multicultural Davos globalist by traditional Tory voters who are now well aware of such discourse.
The economy is the main gripe and the UK’s poodling to the American proxy war in the Ukraine. But Europe suffers from similar problem and like the UK is calling for the return of some authentic right-wing governments.

JOHN B
JOHN B
5 months ago

There’s a crisis, it is true, but it is entirely a crisis of endless, pointless state intervention in all areas of life, which is ironically what the author would like to see more of.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
5 months ago

My conspiracy theory for today:
I submit m’lud, that Tom McTague, Will Lloyd, Philip Pilkington and Thomas Fazi have formed a left leaning fifth column inside UnHerd.
Not that Tom is wrong about the Tories, the Tories are worse than absolutely hopeless.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
5 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

I don’t think they are so much “left-leaning” as undecided about whether to “lean” towards plague or “lean” towards cholera.

Samuel Davies
Samuel Davies
5 months ago

My issue with this article, despite its accuracy on many points, is the obvious contradiction in the argument it presents… blaming all problems on the last 13 years whilst simultaneously pointing out that Cameron was elected in 2010 on the back of promising to reverse the decline and malaise that were already inherent in UK. Our problems are far, far deeper than party policy failures, as Labour will find out after GE.

David Crompton
David Crompton
5 months ago

Mark Twain was credited with having said, “Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason.”

Doubly so for political parties.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
5 months ago

Brexit was a major achievement. Covid was a major disaster, made worse (albeit initially unknowingly) by the bad advice of “experts” and the machinations of power hungry advisors. Johnson was a disaster for reasons that are not entirely clear but partly serious illness and partly marital issues. May was a disaster, adrift with no compass.

In the circumstances, and given the poor quality of ministers, especially Hunt, Sunak is doing not too badly, and may yet win through. That is not such a bad position to be in.

William Davies
William Davies
5 months ago

“It turns out [Cameron] had the wrong energy, ideas and ambitions.”
So what were the right ideas and ambitions? There is a lot of (justified) critique in this article (which also effectively encompasses the 13 years of New Labour rule), but no solutions are advanced.

Douglas H
Douglas H
5 months ago

“Living standards have never before grown so weakly over such a sustained period of time.”

Grown?! Who are you kidding?

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
5 months ago

Our Government is indeed hopeless but it would be unfair to Nick Gibb and (through gritted teeth) Michael Gove not to mention their very real achievement in greatly improving literacy through the introduction of phonics. Against the opposition of the educational establishment of course.

James Kirk
James Kirk
5 months ago

If you think this lot are bad, any incoming administration will have the same problems to deal with and that will take years. Unlikely those on offer will fix anything before another General Election. Without even making things worse the voters will see empty promises and vote, or not vote, accordingly.

John Turnbull
John Turnbull
5 months ago

There is a sucessful community on our doorstep which seems to have learnt to operate without political parties. It is called the Isle of Man.

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
5 months ago

Well that was a useful bringing-together of all their failures. But it rather overlooks the plainer truth. The mob currently in government (not the wider grassroots party) is simply an organised crime group with a core mission to asset strip public services and facilitate the upward transfer of wealth from the middle and working classes and into the hands of the donor class. Viewed through this lens, everything makes perfect sense. It will take decades to put right – most likely by a purged and reinvented conservative grouping. I have little faith in Starmer’s Labour.

Stephen Philip
Stephen Philip
5 months ago

Yes, viewed through the eyes of someone who appears to be insane, what you’ve just said would indeed make sense.

Neil Ross
Neil Ross
5 months ago

“ The mess he inherited a year ago today was hardly his fault” Apart from being Chancellor!

Ken Bowman
Ken Bowman
5 months ago

This article is a fraud. It states that Sunak’s year of office has been a failure by by listing the 12 years of failure before he took office.

Michael Brett
Michael Brett
5 months ago

I think Mr Sunak is doing the best that can be done under the circumstances, however its a brutal summing up of the tory party’s failings. I’m a 60 year old working class floating voter who can not quite believe this awful mess we are in.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
5 months ago

I dislike the word decline which suggests a shrinking, or falling away from greatness, a fading of the light. That disguises the underlying problem which is one of growth, expansion and obesity. The state has never been particularly efficient but managed to get by, at least financially, from year to year when its responsibilities were limited to managing the Royal Navy, a modest army, the Post Office and the relief of the poor. Now it tries to do everything for everybody, pays a heavy penalty when it falls short and in desperation throws borrowed money in all directions and at every problem.
Nothing will change unless and until the state ‘declines’ and returns individual responsibility to the individual. We must learn to manage our own lives again and make our own mistakes without calling on the government to rescue us from all our misfortunes.

Last edited 5 months ago by Malcolm Knott
Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
5 months ago

The origin/problem of all Western countries‘ economic decline was the Covid Lockdown and especially the commitment to Net Zero, which puts huge burdens on industries. It is nearly impossible to have a successful economy with a huge debt burden from the Lockdowns in combination with the commitment to an impossible timeframe of Net Zero,. Any politician or political party can only fix minor problems at the margins. All governments in the U.K., in the rest of Europe and the US are spending huge amounts of money to fix a supposedly problem like climate change, which is unfixable and based on Climate models, which turn out to be totally exaggerated. (Remember Imperial College’s Covid Models? ) It puts huge red tape on industrial innovation and the outcome will be poverty and more debt. There will be no more money in the coffers of governments to splash out on goodies like Health, Education or Infrastructure. So it is not only Rishi’s dark moment in politics, but every politician, who governs right now. Unless there is a revolution and people stand up to this huge hoax, we will be dependent on countries like China and imports from abroad, caught in a spiral of never ending Western decline.

Last edited 5 months ago by Stephanie Surface
Stephen Philip
Stephen Philip
5 months ago

The only fair comparison would be with how leaders have performed in the year after their party has been in power for around 13 years. Can someone give me an example of an improvement in their party’s opinion poll rating over such a period? The fact there has been any improvement at all is something of a miracle.

j watson
j watson
5 months ago

Much too much temptation on the Right to apportion blame to the half-wits they elected, and avoid the reckoning that must come from reflecting on inherent contradictions in Right wing thinking.
If folks spent more time on this rather than running around trying to find scapegoats we might all have a more positive future.

Last edited 5 months ago by j watson
j watson
j watson
5 months ago

What most characterised the Tories last 13 years is the on-going argument about Europe and Brexit, with key consequences in it became a totally false panacea for our problems and a massive distraction from addressing our real structural problems. Was always the potential and so it has proven.
What’s also characterised the latter half of the last 13 years is populist right sloganeering. Again often total total twaddle and a distraction from proper focus on good governing. But sufficient lap it up, so I guess we get what we deserve.
Fact also that Tory members elected two imbeciles to lead obviously not going help. Two of the most appalling PMs ever in the last few years clearly going to make a difference.