06 October 2022


A Different Game

by Don Urquhart

Mug shot of Don Urquhart

On our TV we are immersed in gory bloodbaths.  We are in the middle of two prequels: House of the Dragon (Game of Thrones) and Rings of Power (Lord of the Rings).  You are really spoilt for choice if watching tongues being cut out and battlefield surgery are your plats préférés.

And where sport is concerned we like our players committed but sporting.  In NFL you lose 10 yards for “Unnecessary Roughness” and this in the most macho of contests.  Regardless of who you support you find yourself very put out by fouls which are potentially career-ending or crafty.  And the Indian bowler who whipped off the bails when Charlie Dean was backing up was shockingly unsporting.  I was proud of Charlie for not making a meal of it.

When it comes to politics it’s hard to work out what the game is and who is on which side.

Not much sportsmanship at the Tory Party Conference but plenty of gory bloodbaths.  Ms Truss tells us her dash for growth will inevitably cause disruption.  That would be like our supermarket now with empty shelves, our friends now having operations cancelled without explanation.  And Planet Truss will be worse.

Since Keir Hardie, socialists have looked to the Labour Party to be battling on the side of the many.  But it is a toxic discredited organisation.  The Forde Report and Al Jazeera’s Labour Files simply confirm what we already knew.  The party refuses to back the trade unions and seems more interested in attracting disaffected Tories like Christian Wakeford who crossed the Commons floor in January.  And the rumour is that many other Conservative MPs are hoping to protect their jobs by pinning on a red rosette.

The Labour Party Conference last week was a pretty limp affair.  Applause was polite rather than enthusiastic.  And yet the opinion polls have them streets ahead of the Conservatives.  I think the polls reflect the cocktail of arrogance, incompetence and ignorance with which Truss/Kwarteng spooked the markets condemning us to massive increases in the cost of accommodation via higher interest rates.  So it was people rejecting the Conservatives rather than embracing Labour.

Academic Matthew Goodwin was on TV pointing out that the vast majority of people were happy to pay higher taxes to protect public services.

Nevertheless Kwarteng says his strategy is to generate growth through tax cuts.  He has committed to put more flesh on that and have it checked out by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) who might take a more considered view than the hedge fund buddies he boozed with after making his fiscal event statement.

His policy is pretty much what has long been preached by the Institute of Economic Affairs from the Conservative lobbying Nirvana that is 55 Tufton Street.  Their people are all over the media but looking rather tongue-tied since Kwarteng imploded while trundling out their message.

His speech to the Conservative faithful was really only tub thumping.  However, one statement stuck in my mind:

When it comes to those who would hold us back we will act.  Pernicious strike action disrupts the lives of British people and slows down our economy.

And it struck me that Kwarteng’s real opposition has nothing to do with the well-fed crowd sitting opposite him in the Commons.

The people he is worried about were out on Saturday in 50 demonstrations that stretched from Aberdeen to Ramsgate to Cardiff – 100,000 of them.

They were supporting 200,000 currently on strike – and nurses, teachers, fire-fighters, lecturers and civil servants are all balloting for strike action in the coming weeks. 

The common theme was Enoughisenough.

This campaign now has over 700,000 members and if it decides to morph into a political party will be bigger than Conservatives, Labour and LibDems combined.

The Daily Mail will soon be describing its leaders as anti-Semitic paedophiles who eat babies for entertainment.

That is because their explicit agenda is:

1. A real pay rise
2. Slash energy bills
3. End food poverty
4. Decent homes for all
5. Tax the rich

On Tuesday’s Politics Live Jo Coburn interviewed Harlow Conservative MP Robert Halfon who was clearly put out by the Government’s benefit cutting proposals.  He spoke of Compassionate Conservatism.  It seemed like an Enoughisenough position and I found myself asking whether it really was still Labour against Conservative.  Camilla Tominey a right wing journalist accused Halfon of advocating Corbynomics and three times referred disparagingly to someone who had ceased to be Labour leader 30 months previously. 

Given the state of the two major parties it could be that the coming political battles will be between Tufton Street free market ideologues and Enoughisenough campaigners.

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