I’ve refrained from blogging much this month as I’ve been busy with other things but today I couldn’t resist returning to comment on a subject I’ve refrained from hardly commenting on at all recently. Politics.
But my spleen needs venting after watching the utter shit-show that passes for a Government nowadays and the ‘Prime Mendacitor’ surviving a no-confidence vote – amongst other things…
To be honest, when the news of the vote broke I suspected Johnson would win for a couple of reasons. One is – who is there with any honesty or intelligence within the Conservative front benches to replace him. Admittedly, that won’t be a question the Tory party will be asking because if they cared about those qualities they’d have never elected a pathological liar as leader in the first place! No, the question they’ll have asked themselves is “who could win us the next election”? Their problem is that it’s unlikely the electorate will fall for the same trick twice and Johnson has ensured that there’s no likely candidates around by appointing a bunch of people who no-one else would ever give a job to – and who owe him their positions. I mean, ‘Mad Nad’ Dorries? She shouldn’t be trusted with a supermarket check-out! Liz Truss? Really? The only one who was seen as a likely lad was Rishi Sunak but his star set when all the stuff came out about his American Green card and his his very wealthy wife’s tax and residence status. The odious and perma-smirking Priti Patel? The grandees would never go for her and I doubt many Tory members would too…
The Tories are in a fix of their own making. Some have a spine and some (albeit often deeply buried) scruples which is why the number voting against Johnson was so large. The likelihood now is that the party will continue to implode as it’s clear Johnson only has one policy, which is to hang on to No 10 at all costs. His acolytes, sorry – Cabinet – will do whatever they can to facilitate that so they can stay in office too.
Expect a series of policy volte faces (see HS2, more of which later), mad policy announcements and more dead cats than a pet cemetery. But it’s clear ordinary voters are starting to see the emperor has no clothes and treats the majority of them with contempt. On the 23rd June we have 2 by-elections. One in the ‘red wall’ seat of Wakefield and the other in the safe Tory seat of Tiverton and Honiton.
Polls suggest Labour will win back Wakefield with a large majority which is going to make other ‘red wall’ Tory MPs very nervous. The nerves could become even more frayed if the Lib-Dems pull off another Amersham and win Tiverton. Johnson is not out of the woods by a very long chalk.
Meanwhile, the damage caused to the economy by the Brexitshambles is becoming more and more obvious now they can’t hide the truth by blaming it on Covid. Even some of the Brexit cheerleaders in the media (The Daily Express for example) are sensing that they can only pull the wool over their dwindling number of readers for so long.
Sadly, the rot in the Tory party (wholesale infiltration of local constituency association by former UKIP members) that led to so many out of touch ideologues getting selected and elected was mirrored by the Labour party being similarly damaged by Corbynistas. Corbyn may be gone but the damage he’s done hasn’t. There’s some good people in the Parliamentary party but there’s not enough of them and Keir Starmer is hardly of the Tony Blair mould when it comes to charisma. We as a nation are not well served by our main political parties.
I said I’d come back to HS2 and the news of the dropping of the £3bn Golborne link which was designed to free up capacity on the very congested two-track section of the West Coast Main Line from Weaver Junction (North of Crewe) to a point just South of Wigan, bypassing the busy rail junction of Warrington. The HS2 Minister, Andrew Stephenson quietly slipped out the news just 30 minutes before Johnson’s no-confidence vote. That the cut was planned had been leaked a few weeks previously by Sir Ian Brady, the MP for Altrincham and Sale West and (it just so happens), Chair of the 1922 Committee, which oversees votes of no-confidence and who’s constituency the Golborne link would have passed through! What an amazing co-incidence!
The Golborne link was crucial to improving Anglo-Scottish train times and services as it would have helped make HS2 competitive on what’s Europe’s busiest internal air route. That from The Scottish central belt to London and the South-East. So, now – instead of a firm plan that was due to be passed by Parliament this year, we’ve a series of vague promises to “look again at alternatives”. in line with suggestions in Sir Peter Hendy’s Union Connectivity Review. What this naked bit of political pork-barreling will do is set back that section of high-speed line by years – IF it ever happens. It makes a mockery of the Government’s supposed commitment to carbon-reduction. Getting air passengers off those short-haul planes and onto trains would be a huge reduction in the worst kind of carbon emissions.
IF (and it’s a huge if) the Government did actually come up with a plan to move the connection between the WCML and HS2 further North to (say) just South of Preston, that would be better than the Golborne link as it would speed trains up even more and relieve more WCML. But Johnson (and his Transport Minister, Grant Shapps) have proved his Government simply can’t be trusted.
I suspect we’re going to see further rowing back on promises made in the (dis)integrated rail plan as this line was going to be funded from the HS2 budget but any revised route would be expected to come out of the supposed £96bn IRP pot.
So much for ‘leveling up’ eh? I only hope Northern voters see through this charade but I’m not holding my breath. Even some Labour MPs are welcoming another Tory cut – hence this nonsense from the Labour MP for Warrington North, Charlotte Nicols, who either doesn’t understand what the Golborne link was, or does but has played Nimby politics as the route passed through her constituency too. It’s worth of the ‘Green’ party in it’s hypocrisy, ‘supporting’ HS2 in principle, but welcoming cutting it in practice.
Reaction to Nicols Tweet wasn’t what she was expecting! Many people replied, pointing out what the MP was seemingly deliberately misunderstand and misleading. The Golborne link “not part of the line”? Oh, please!
I’ve no doubt this saga will continue…
I’ve a small favour to ask…
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