OPINION: Tory infighting means country's real problems aren't getting fixed
- Credit: PA
It might not have seemed possible a week ago, but Boris Johnson has managed to lower his reputation – and that of the government – even further over the last seven days.
After flouting Covid regulations he suddenly decided to go much further than the current self-isolation regulations require when a member of his family tested positive for Covid. This conveniently meant that he wasn’t available for any press interviews.
When he did finally emerge from hiding, it was obvious why he was trying to dodge scrutiny.
In a disastrous interview he said that no one had told him the Downing Street parties were against the rules. This is the man, remember, who set the rules and went on TV night after night to tell us to follow them.
This leaves us with two options: either he’s lying or he’s too stupid to be Prime Minister.
This can’t go on, but most Conservative MPs are yet to find either a backbone or moral compass and are still waiting for civil servant Sue Gray to tell them what to think.
However, a small but increasing number have simply had enough.
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Veteran Conservative MP David Davis told Boris Johnson to his face that he should resign.
Newly-elected MP Christian Wakeford was so disgusted with the whole spectacle that he left the Conservatives and joined the Labour Party.
And another Conservative MP, William Wragg, blew the gaff on the bribery and blackmail Government whips are apparently using to pressure MPs into backing Boris Johnson.
It is extremely sordid and unedifying but, while Boris Johnson focuses only on how to save his job and the Conservative Party descends into civil war, there are real problems facing the country which are just not getting any attention from this Government.
There is a huge cost of living crisis looming. Prices are rising at their fastest level in decades. Energy bills are set to rise by hundreds of pounds. National Insurance goes up in April and the Government has broken the pensions triple lock.
In the face of these massive blows to our standard of living, what big new policy did the Government unveil last week? Unbelievably, it was “cutting down the number of announcements made on trains”. Crisis, what crisis? You just couldn’t make this up.
In stark contrast, Labour announced a comprehensive plan to keep energy bills down over a fortnight ago.
It calls for VAT to be axed on energy bills, the cost of supplier failure to be spread over five years and an extra discount for pensioners and people on middle and low incomes. This would see everyone benefit by around £200 with 9 million hardest-hit households getting a further £400 off their bills.
It would be paid for by a windfall tax on North Sea oil and gas producers who are seeing soaring profits from rising energy prices.
This would be backed up by long-term action to reduce our country’s reliance on imported gas by accelerating the switch to low carbon energy and a national programme of insulating homes.
This fully-costed programme would put an immediate end to the worry many families have that they won’t be able to afford to heat their homes.
But from the Conservatives, we have heard nothing. They are so focussed on fighting amongst themselves that they don’t have time to address the problems facing the country. They’re too busy even to just steal Labour’s policies, let alone come up with anything themselves.
This isn’t just down to Boris Johnson. The Conservatives have been running the country for nearly 12 years. They have run out of steam, run out of ideas, and are now causing more problems than they are solving.
David Davis aimed his words at Boris Johnson last week, but they could equally apply to the whole of this wretched Conservative Government: “You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. In the name of God, go.”
- David Ellesmere is the Labour leader of Ipswich Borough Council.