by Peter Franklin
Friday, 19
August 2022
Idea
07:15

Liz Truss needs a Minister for Winter

Our next Prime Minister needs to prepare for a chaotic Christmas
by Peter Franklin
It’ll be lonely this Christmas. Credit: Getty

The Tory leadership contest has another two weeks to run, but we’re just going through the motions now. Liz Truss might as well stop campaigning and start planning what she’s going to do as Prime Minister.

Her first job (apart from penning Carrie Johnson a thank you note for the tastefully re-decorated flat) is to appoint a Cabinet. It’s going to be tricky rewarding everyone who’s clambered aboard her bandwagon, so it might help if she creates one or two new positions. Above all, she needs the right man or woman to manage the looming fuel bill crisis. 


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According to analysis from Vicky Leigh of Citizens Advice, energy debts have already become the most common debt issue across most of the country. But how much worse is it going to get when the price cap goes up by thousands of pounds in October and January?

Most likely, Truss will have to u-turn on the “hand outs” she so casually dismissed during the leadership campaign. However, the vast expense of a rescue package will blow up her tax-cutting plans — unless, that is, she can contain the costs. And to do that she needs the mother of all energy saving campaigns.

Certainly, there’s never been a more cost-effective time to lag the country’s leaky lofts. But where’s the nationwide roll-out? Why aren’t we stockpiling the necessary materials or training up the installers or encouraging householders to clear their attics in preparation?

Or what about the use of public buildings to provide warm refuges in the dead of winter? Libraries may prove to be a popular destination, but is anyone thinking about the extra seating they’ll need to cope with an influx? Or the extension of opening hours? Or the extra staff and volunteers? 

All of these issues and countless more will need to be sorted before the winter — and that means close coordination across multiple government departments, agencies and local authorities. For that, we’re going to need a Cabinet-level Minister for Winter, with the power to bang heads together across Whitehall and beyond. 

The obvious choice is the current Chancellor of the Exchequer, Nadhim Zahawi. For one thing, Truss will probably want to move him out of the Treasury so she can install a close political ally. More to the point, however, Zahawi was the minister for vaccines during the Covid pandemic and therefore knows all about mobilising a successful nationwide effort. 

He was also a founder of the polling company, YouGov. As such he will have a feel for public opinion. This won’t directly help with planning a competent response to the fast approaching crisis, but it should provide the Cabinet with a warning of the consequences of failing the test.

Liz Truss is set to become Prime Minister almost one hundred years after Andrew Bonar-Law — who served just 211 days in office. If she wants exceed his tenure, then she must be aware that her job is on the line from day one.

Whether she gets through the winter depends on how well she gets us through the winter. 

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Colin MacDonald
Colin MacDonald
3 months ago

Unless we can increase supply to meet energy demand “handouts” will just push the up energy prices more. And confiscating Big Oil’s windfall profits won’t do much to address supply shortages.
I get mightily annoyed when the Red Orchestra gets worked up about this latest crisis. They’re ones who have been campaigning for Net Zero and for Keeping it in the Ground. Well, the Green Blob has got what it wanted, the oil and gas is left under the North Sea, no point in blaming others for the consequences.

Matt M
Matt M
3 months ago

Red Orchestra is a good one.

polidori redux
polidori redux
3 months ago

Exactly.
Leaving people to freeze or starve is what Net Zero means. Our leaders must know that there is no hope that renewable energy will, in the foreseeable future, provide the standard of leaving that we currently enjoy. My hope is that they have miscalculated so badly that there will be political upheaval.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
3 months ago

Quite right. It is the politicians that have engineered energy shortages by their stupid policies and they are in no position to resolve the position except by rowing back on most of the policies that have got us where we are. It is energy in useable form we need not unusable political hot air or redistributive schemes.

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
3 months ago

“Zahawi was the minister for vaccines during the Covid pandemic” which means he was the media spokesperson for an operation planned and implemented by anyone else but him.

There’s no comparison either. Delivering a single objective – like “vaccinate everyone” – above all other considerations is generally what state planning is good at. Tackling the next decade of energy shortages is complex and state planning is useless at addressing such complexity – for starters, it is government regulation of the energy markets that has got the UK into this mess, Ukraine or no Ukraine.

polidori redux
polidori redux
3 months ago

Very amusing piece.
Ask us oldies what life was like fifty years ago. Answer: Better than what is planned for Christmas 2022.
The plan seems to be that the privileged swan around in centrally head Teslas whilst the plebs adopt the energy footprint of a medieval peasant. An awful lot of people (you Peter?) fondly imagine that they will qualify for a Tesla. There will be a lot of wailing when they discover that they won’t.
Good luck everyone.

Matt M
Matt M
3 months ago

Certainly, there’s never been a more cost-effective time to lag the country’s leaky lofts. But where’s the nationwide roll-out?

It seems to have slipped the notice of the nation’s journalists that there have been nationally available, widely publicised and very widely adopted schemes to insulate lofts and cavity walls for free for the last twenty years.
I find it hard to believe there is any low-hanging fruit left to pick on this score. There are leaky old houses but they require a lot more than loft insulation.

Last edited 3 months ago by Matt M
Mickey Mouse
Mickey Mouse
3 months ago

Winter is coming

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
3 months ago
Reply to  Mickey Mouse

In rural areas people will bring their animals indoors for their body heat. That also was a hallmark of the Middle Ages to which the Greens are leading us like the Pied Piper.

Aaron James
Aaron James
3 months ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

I am collecting a big pile of old tires to burn for when it gets really cold, but I like your idea of bringing in a couple cows to take the edge off the chill. These Russia sactions are having some unexpected consequences.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
3 months ago

no doubt a ” Minister for Winter’ like the Newbury Council official hoodwinked ( backhanded?) back in the 1980s to, at vast expense, buy snow plough trucks built for left hand drive countries that merrilly drove up and down the roads to Lambourn and around spraying the snow from one side of the road to the other, and then again, and again….

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
3 months ago

See what the Germans are doing and do likewise.

Iris C
Iris C
3 months ago

It seems to me that there will be an impasse if Liz Truss is elected as Prime Minister by Tory constituency members because a large majority of Westminster MPs, with whom she has to work, did not vote for her.
In fact it would be humiliating for her and for our standing in the world if she then lost a vote of no confidence and the process of electing a PM started all over again.
Steps should be taken now to avoid this happening…

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
3 months ago
Reply to  Iris C

That’s what happened to Boris. His “80 seat majority” was always an illusion as a majority of Tory MPs didn’t support him and many actively hated him.

M. M.
M. M.
3 months ago

Peter Franklin wrote, “Her first job (apart from penning Carrie Johnson a thank you note for the tastefully re-decorated flat) is to appoint a Cabinet.”

Her second job is to distance Great Britain from the United States and, specifically, to detach the British from the American military architecture.

By 2040, the United States will cease being a Western nation, due to open borders. By 2040, most Americans will reject Western culture, and Hispanic culture will dominate. In California, most residents already reject Western culture, and Hispanic culture dominates.

The British (and other Europeans) should treat the United States in the same manner that they have treated Argentina after the Falklands War. Henceforth, the closest British ally should be a European state like Germany or Poland.

Get more info about this issue.

Chris Bredge
Chris Bredge
3 months ago
Reply to  M. M.

Oh no, not you again! Your stock statements about Hispanics taking over the US are getting boring and never bear any relationship to the article on which you are commenting.