They say that there is no honour amongst thieves. Well there certainly isn’t much between Conservative politicians. Those who have stolen our country are still busy fighting over the spoils.
Top of the hate list for many of the extreme libertarian right is Rishi Sunak. They need someone to blame for the fact that their fantastical economic theories did so much damage when Liz Truss put them into practice and that their favourite liar got dumped out of office by a series of resignations from his own hand-picked ministers.
Clearing up Johnson’s mess
Sunak is trying hard to portray himself as a man of quiet reason who is busy doing what is best for the country. In reality he is one of the Brexiters who helped create the mess – the person who is most responsible for the wave of strikes that is causing so many problems, and someone who got fined for failing to obey the lockdown rules that the rest of us tried so hard to stick sensibly to.
To date Sunak’s main claim to an actual achievement is to agree to a complex set of arrangements for Northern Ireland that enables it to be in a different economic trading block to the rest of the United Kingdom with somewhat reduced checks and controls on the movement of goods across the Irish Sea.
He is busy telling the people there that this will bring them huge benefits because they will be in the unique position of being able to trade freely with both the United Kingdom and the whole of the EU. A freedom that he campaigned to remove from everyone else in our country – along with their right to travel, to work, and to live freely across the whole of Europe.
Boorish Johnson was quick to turn on him. He has declared that he will find it difficult to vote for this arrangement. For once he is telling the truth. It must be incredibly difficult for him because he told us that he had got this sorted. Just before the last general election he declared to voters that he had GOT BREXIT DONE. He promised us that everything significant had been resolved and he forced parliament to vote through his deal within a few short hours of parliamentarians trying frantically to scan-read a lengthy and complex document.
The way he had actually got his deal done was to sign up to something which his predecessor Theresa May had consistently refused to. Johnson personally decided to impose significant controls on trade between two parts of the United Kingdom in order to win an election and then proceeded to travel to Belfast and tell business leaders barefaced lies about what that deal meant.
With his usual cheery deception he informed them that there would be no paperwork and they could rip up any forms that they were asked to complete. He then scuttled back to his latest lover and her questionable yet expensive taste in home decorations leaving them to cope with the serious new obstacles to doing business he had personally negotiated.
Conservatives factions are equally blameworthy
Of course Johnson can’t support the new deal Sunak has agreed, because it shows up the flaws of the old deal with such stark clarity. And because if it proves to be any kind of success it rubs his nose in the dirt of the huge failure of his own negotiation. Just as Jacob Rees-Mogg can’t support his own party’s government. Every day Rees-Mogg pontificates in his faux patrician tones from the backbenches it serves to remind the nation quite how bizarre it was that someone so out of touch with their daily lived reality should ever have been allowed anywhere near the levers of power.
As soon as the budget comes out these divisions will emerge with fresh enthusiasm. Those who currently enjoy the privilege of occupying jobs in the cabinet will be predictably determined to try and tell us that the chancellor has pulled off a triumph and the nation is on track to a rosy economic future. We will be confidently informed that the ship has been stabilised, inflation is falling and energy bills will be subsidised for a bit longer.
This will emerge from the same people that voted for the Kwasi Kwarteng budget that hiked up interest rates, pushed up prices, crippled mortgage holders and added billions to the national debt. The same people that forced agricultural labourers out of the country so that British crops couldn’t be picked and made cross border transport harder leaving our supermarkets short of supplies.
Just because there is a strong divide between factions in the Conservative Party does not make the faction that has currently captured power competent or guilt free. It is this version of the Conservative government that has provoked strike chaos and has done so much damage to public services like the NHS. Now that it is weeks away from the May local elections, the government – in the Windsor framework – is finally demonstrating a little of the flexibility that could have solved most of these strikes before they even started.
No honour amongst thieves
When the French aristocracy was busy destroying itself via its arrogant neglect for the needs of the nation, Marie Antoinette is apocryphally said to have naively proposed a solution for those who couldn’t afford bread: “Let them eat cake!” As the British conservative establishment enters its own tailspin the message that resounds in the ears of the public comes from Thérèse Coffey – let them eat turnips.
As it happens I am very fond of a nice turnip. I just don’t think the nation should be subjected to being ruled by politicians who are this far out of touch with the daily lived reality of food prices rising by 17.1% in a single year. Not while loyal and long-suffering working people like nurses are expected to accept yet another annual cut in their standard of living.
They have stolen the futures of ordinary working people and used huge sums of public money to enrich already well-heeled associates with dodgy contracts. There is indeed little honour amongst thieves.
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