Monday 25 July 2022

Escaping the madness


It’s good to know that, if he becomes PM, Rishi Sunak will put the UK on a crisis footing in order to address the problems left behind by the outgoing government. It is, however, a bit like a bored firefighter becoming an arsonist to show how good he is at putting out fires. The specific problems to which he refers, in the NHS, have all got worse during the last 12 years of Tory rule, and even more so during the three years of the Johnson government. Whilst it’s true that the Covid pandemic exacerbated the situation, things wouldn’t have become quite so bad if the Chancellor at the time, whose name Sunak obviously can’t quite remember, hadn’t been so determined to prioritise what he called fiscal responsibility over meeting people’s needs. And that other Sunak, to whom the current one is obviously no relation, was quite happy for people to be briefed on a regular basis about how he had been amongst those arguing in Cabinet for fewer restrictions and for ending the restrictions sooner – decisions which have added to the difficulties faced by the Health Service.

Sunak 2 might even get away with the trick – not in the sense of solving the NHS backlog problem, of course: neither candidate is willing to do what that would take. But presenting the government as a completely new one, taking no responsibility for the actions and policies of its predecessor is exactly what Johnson did three years ago. Truss N (I’m not sure what iteration we’re up to in her case, but it’s certainly more than 2) will no doubt try the same trick if she wins, in her case trashing what passed for an economic policy under her predecessor. I’d like to believe that it can’t work, that people would see through it this time round, but sadly I’m not at all sure that it won’t work just as well a second time. According to the insights of Dominic Cummings (admittedly not exactly the most dependable of sources, but what he says on this is so mad as to be just about believable), Johnson is backing Truss on the basis of his belief that any government led by her would implode before long, giving him the chance to return by acclamation. The second part of that – the triumphal return – is certifiably bonkers, but the first part – the implosion – has a certain ring of credibility to it. It comes to something when, in a phrase I never thought I (or anyone else) would ever write, our best hope of escaping madness lies with Liz Truss.

1 comment:

Spirit of BME said...

The Commons report on the NHS was about England, can we read across what you wrote to judge HMG government in Wales with the same gang being in power (in some form) for over twenty years?
Can someone tell ‘Risky’ Sunak that he may not have the power to ‘put the UK on a crisis footing.’