Kwasi Kwarteng appears to be going through an identity crisis
“We get it, we are listening”, Kwasi Kwarteng announced after he decided not to cut the taxes of Britain’s highest earners this morning. Recognising, perhaps, that his future as chancellor was looking less than certain, he issued this masterclass non-apology.
Following interventions from Michael Gove, Julian Smith, and Grant Schapps, the retreat simply raised the question: can Kwarteng make policies stick without the approval of Michael Gove? Or do we, instead, believe Jacob Rees-Mogg, who minutes before Kwarteng delivered his speech, claimed that the U-turn “has been a sound and fury that signifies nothing”? ...
The pair were like star-crossed lovers at last night's event
It’s possible that Keir Starmer has never been this happy before. When he walked into the auditorium yesterday evening with Gary Neville, his grin was so wide you could have fit every delegate, and their mobility scooters, in his mouth. He looked delighted.
Neville-Starmer are perfectly star-crossed. Theirs is a love whose month is ever May. Neville described Starmer as “trustworthy — he has integrity”. All Labour had to do was “get behind him” and power would roll into the party’s hands. “You are absolutely spot on Gary,” Starmer swooned at one point. “Gary’s right.” ...
Her undiluted hatred for the Tories may cause problems for Keir Starmer
Angela Rayner hates Tories. The deputy leader opened Labour Conference with her speech yesterday, and told us what we already know. Angela Rayner hates Tories.
How much? Convert her hatred into pure wattage and you could end the energy crisis with a flicked switch. Listen to the language. The Tories are “sleaze merchants”. Tory donors are “cronies”. Their record in government is a “catalogue of sleaze, waste, and lies”. They turned Downing Street into a “crime scene”. They watch “tractor porn”. And now Liz Truss is “enriching bankers while families are starving”. ...
They thought she would last forever
Half an Encyclopaedia Britannica could be filled with prophecies of the Monarchy’s demise. Here is Virginia Woolf in the Thirties, after the abdication crisis. “Royalty” she writes, “is no longer quite Royal”. The flying buttresses of a “great Victorian dream” had been removed. The cathedral was sinking.
Today we had the full Westminster Abbey, with buttresses solid, and a hundred guardsmen banging their drums in the sun. Along the Mall was a polite and patriotic scene of lower-middle class England. Little old ladies from Peterborough, painters and decorators from Dagenham, sisters from Billericay, a retired accountant from Tunbridge Wells. They have packed sandwiches, and toddlers. “We expected her to go on forever”, said Wendy, as her sister Susan and husband Kevin nodded. “Forever and ever.” ...
The British are not entirely sure
Several events were easy to predict after the death of Queen Elizabeth II. We knew that the late monarch’s face would miraculously appear to her subjects in a piece of toast, or a pancake — or as it turned out, in banks of clouds. We knew that Prince Charles would wave a wand and make the Duchess of Cornwall the Queen Consort. And we knew that somebody, somewhere, with absolutely no respect for this sombre occasion, or the common decency that ought to attend it, would shout abuse at Prince Andrew.
He was following his mother’s hearse through the streets of Edinburgh when a 22-year-old man called Rory screamed: “Andrew you’re a sick old man”. (Prince Andrew has repeatedly denied being a sick old man.) Rory was then dragged away, filmed explaining himself on Twitter, and “arrested in connection with a breach of the peace”. ...
The royal could finally say goodbye to his prince's title
In his address to the nation this evening King Charles III said goodbye to two people. The first was his mother. The second was the Prince of Wales.
This was literally the speech of a lifetime. Charles became the Prince of Wales in 1969. His reputation has scratched wildly up and down ever since like a seismometer needle. It is hard to think of anybody else in public life who was dragged through the mud quite as many times as him. “Nobody knows,” he once said, “what utter hell it is to be the Prince of Wales.”
Long before today, when crowds greeted their new King with acclaim, kisses and flowers, Charles had begun to rebuild his reputation. Not as an elder statesman or a dynamic paterfamilias, but as a man who was right — right about climate change, right about the bees, right about dry stone walls. Scorn had changed, slowly, into affection. ...
Can he bamboozle his way back to power?
The campaign to make Boris Johnson Prime Minister again began this morning. Johnson was supposed to be saying farewell to his country and his party, but his goodbyes, as they have done all summer, sound more like advertisements for the sequel.
Aren’t partings supposed to be… sad? David Cameron went in for patrician dignity and buttoned emotion; he ended up indistinguishable from Lord Grantham watching his beloved dog die in Downton Abbey. Theresa May cried. And cried.
Johnson is just relaxed, the most satisfied man in Britain. Looking tanned after a summer spa-ing in Slovenia, pretending to be Tom Cruise, and boating about Euboea with missus no.3, Johnson gave us routine Johnson — and disturbingly, routine Johnson is orders of magnitude more compelling than Keir Starmer or Liz Truss. ...
The new Tory leader didn't exactly get the crowd going
Westminster, the QEII Centre
We are here for a coronation without bishops, prayers, or giltwood gold carriages. Instead, as the cream of the Conservative Party is poured through a mouth of metal detectors, there is a smell. It’s pungent. Nitroglycerin, sawdust, and a whiff of graphite. Bomb, burned toast, or Rishi Sunak’s hopes and dreams? As tieless Tory men fan themselves, I wonder if it’s hot enough in here for Mark Francois to burst a couple of valves when he claims his seat.
There are no cardiac catastrophes. The only real disaster is the margin of victory for Liz Truss today. She takes 57% of the vote, beating Rishi Sunak by 20,000 or so votes. That’s less than Iain Duncan Smith in 2001, David Cameron in 2005, and Boris Johnson in 2019. All that after winning over fewer MPs than Sunak. ...