Have the Tories broken Britain?

To answer my own question. Probably. At least for the next several years. We have dispirited political party in charge. It seems to change its mind on policies as often as it changes ministers, while claiming it is in control and leading us forward. All the Conservative Party has done with its constant internal chaos is lead our country to the precipice.

A huge economy likes ours is not going to fall overnight. Or even fall. But there are many striving and burgeoning economies across the world that want a share of our cake.

The pain of Tory incompetence is soaring interest rates. Tax rises are promised. Public spending cuts are high on the agenda.

The Tory pain will be felt by those who owe money, in mortgages and other loans. Saving rates will increase but will be overwhelmed by inflation. People will lose their homes. Businesses will go under. The poor will inevitably remain poor, even poorer.

There is an economic whirlwind out there in the wider world. But why are we, one of the most “advanced” countries in the world so unprepared for economic shocks?

Policies, whether economic, social or environmental, tend to be on the short term horizon. Maybe ten years, though some environmental policies, zero carbon, net zero have longer timescales. Though these are threatened by the forever wobbling Tories.

This current chaos is exceptional. We are in a prolonged recession, according to the Bank of England. But no one know where we are heading.

The Conservatives are desperate to blame anyone but themselves. It’s the war in Ukraine! Yes, but David Cameron only said boo to the Russian goose when Putin annexed Crimea. He and Obama sent a signal that the west would not intervene in Russia’s “internal” affairs.

There are gas price hikes and shortages as a result of the war. But it was the Tories that decided the Rough gas storage facility was not worth supporting. It is being hastily reopened. Since Margaret Thatcher, the Tories have believed the market can supply energy needs with minimal government intervention. That has been a political failure and the market has failed politicians and us all.

The government has no credible energy policy. First, we don’t have fracking, then we do have fracking, then we don’t. Onshore wind farms are banned in England, then they are not banned, then they are. Coal fired power stations are having their operating lives extended because we don’t have enough generating capacity and energy storage.

And we have sort of exited the EU. Best to call Brexit a messy divorce with the lawyers still pouring over the paperwork. We have divorced our best friend and that is proving costly. We are reinventing the wheel and duplicating standards. Trade is based on mutual trust, common standards. Near frictionless movement.

It was Margaret Thatcher who championed the Single Market. The Tories are now failing her vision creating barriers to trade.

The chaos on immigration is unbelievable. The Tories say some migrants and asylum seekers are unwanted. Even should be exported. Yet we don’t have enough seasonal and highly qualified workers to keep our economy thriving. Crops are left in the fields and we have a desperate shortage of health professionals.

The need for education has never been greater but teachers and lecturers are too often stretched to the limit by botched education reforms. That started with Tony Blair but the Conservatives have done little to ensure that kids have the best education and the best of the kids become the entrepreneurs of the future. It has shrugged its shoulders at internationalism, despite collaboration worldwide being the essential foundation of science and business.

The current Tories are dashing around like rabbits in the headlights. They have wrecked the economy. They do not know what to do on immigration. Unless we see some recommitments soon and new commitments, they will also wreck the environment. Rishi Sunak wasn’t going to COP27, then he might be, now he is attending. At the moment.

The Conservatives have wrecked their own reputation.

It is time for the Conservative Party to do the decent thing and tell the country it has failed. If they still brag that they can run the country with competence, they should put that to the test.

The Conservatives should call a general election. Then we can show that they are a victim of their own misfortune.

* Andy Boddington is a Lib Dem councillor in Shropshire. He blogs at andybodders.co.uk. He is Thursday editor of Lib Dem Voice.

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18 Comments

  • Michael Cole 3rd Nov '22 - 8:11pm

    Yes, Yes, Yes.

    The country needs a General Election … followed by electoral reform.

  • With gilt prices recovered it’s debatable that there is material damage done to the interest rate situation post the mini budget fiasco. Brexit has undoubtedly hurt the UK economy but it’s clear that it’s Russia’s war in Ukraine that is the reason interest rates are rising.

  • Mick Taylor 4th Nov '22 - 5:14am

    @Russell. Clear to whom? Interest rates are rising in an attempt to quell inflation. The pound has crashed, largely due to lack of confidence in the UK. The UK has been downgraded by the rating agencies and no longer enjoys a reputation as a place to invest. Imports are much more expensive and exports have been badly hit by Brexit. I don’t suggest Ukraine hasn’t had an effect, but the principle cause of our economic demise is Brexit

  • Steve Trevethan 4th Nov '22 - 8:05am

    Might a root problem be the adherence of all major parties to Neoliberalism, prime purposes of which are to weaken and destroy essential infrastructures and pro social government investments so that the wealthy become ever wealthier.

  • Andy Boddington 4th Nov '22 - 9:20am

    Spot on @Mick Taylor. We have created our own economic horrors and can’t duck responsibility for that.

  • Helen Dudden 4th Nov '22 - 10:28am

    No commitment to being an MP. Lobbying again another MP on holiday after being caught.
    Clean up of the House of Lords needed badly. Also, a revised look into its future.

  • Peter Martin 4th Nov '22 - 10:45am

    @ Mick Taylor,

    If the cause of our problems is Brexit why does the EU have similar, or even greater, problems at least when measured by the rate of inflation and the rise in interest rates?
    The rate of inflation in the eurozone is currently reported to be 10.7%

    Mme Lagarde has recently been quoted as saying : “ECB must keep raising rates even if recession risks rise”

    She has let the cat out of the bag there by acknowledging that higher interest rates are a deliberate choice of the ECB rather than the result of market pressures.

    Furthermore she has said: ““we don’t believe that that recession will be able to tame inflation.”

    Does this mean that she’s aiming to go much further and create a depression in the EU/eurozone?

  • Barry Lofty 4th Nov '22 - 10:51am

    Although recent polls do not, unfortunately , show much, if any, improvement in the Lib Dems position one thing that must continue is the highlighting of the incompetence, ignorance and dishonesty that has been witnessed from the Conservative party particularly since the 2019 GE. The blame for much of our troubles lays with politicians with a narrow minded self serving agenda.

  • Michael Cole 4th Nov '22 - 4:01pm

    Barry Lofty: You point out the widespread corruption. For that reason alone it is vital to improve the quality of the intake of MPs.

    You are quite right to state that “The blame for much of our troubles lays with politicians with a narrow minded self serving agenda.” Although in my opinion, the word ‘most’ should be substituted for the word ‘much’.

    The electoral system is itself ‘self-serving’. Let’s put an end to ‘safe’ seats and jobs for life, followed by a comfortable retirement in the HoL.

  • It was Margaret Thatcher who championed the Single Market.

    She later realised her mistake…

    ‘Britain must quit EU, says Thatcher’ [March 2002]:
    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2002/mar/18/uk.eu

    Lady Thatcher last night [called] for Britain to start the process of withdrawing from the European Union, saying the institution was “fundamentally unreformable”. […]

    Lady Thatcher calls for renegotiation of Britain’s relations with the EU, including leaving the common agricultural policy (CAP), the common fisheries policy and the common foreign and security policy.

    She also demands that Britain reassert its control over trade policy. […] It would mean Conservative demands could only be met by withdrawal from the EU altogether.

    “We should have every confidence we can achieve a sensible framework within which to defend and pursue our interests while having cooperative relations with the European countries,” Lady Thatcher says in her book [Statecraft: Strategies for a Changing World].

    Membership of the ‘single market’ was always wrong for the UK…

    ‘Why has the UK trade in goods deficit widened in real terms?’ [September 2018]:
    https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/nationalaccounts/balanceofpayments/articles/whyhastheuktradeingoodsdeficitwidenedinrealterms/2018-09-24

    From 1998 to 2000 the UK had an average £3.5 billion trade in goods surplus with the EU. In 2001 the surplus turned into a deficit and by 2017 the trade balance with the EU was £93.7 billion in deficit with most EU countries contributing to the deficit.

  • Russell 3rd Nov ’22 – 10:18pm:
    Brexit has undoubtedly hurt the UK economy

    UK exports to the EU have rebounded to record levels…

    ‘UK trade: April 2022’:
    https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/nationalaccounts/balanceofpayments/bulletins/uktrade/april2022

    EU exports have increased for the third consecutive month in April 2022 and are at the highest levels since records began.

    Future prospects are much greater outside the EU. The UK is now free to negotiate better trade deals to suit UK exporters, particularly for services, opening up most of the world’s fastest growing markets.

    ‘UK-India FTA: key to unlocking Scotch potential’:
    https://www.thespiritsbusiness.com/2022/05/uk-india-fta-win-win-for-indian-alcohol-sector/

    The UK and India’s forthcoming free trade agreement is the “biggest thing to unlock potential in Scotch” and could boost the sector’s exports to the country by £1 billion over five years.

    The removal of the 150% tariff could triple the market share…

    In 2021, India was the second‐largest export market for Scotch by volume,…

    ‘The EU is a Major Drag on the UK economy’ [March 2019]:
    https://www.briefingsforbritain.co.uk/the-eu-is-a-major-drag-on-the-uk-economy/

    …UK exports to non-EU destinations have grown strongly, by around 3.5% per year since 1998 (almost four times faster than exports to the EU) and 3.3% per year since 2007 (thirteen times faster). […]

    …94% of world growth in the next two decades will be outside the EU, along with the great majority of economic opportunities for the UK.

  • @Mick. I said brexit has hurt the economy. I was referencing interest rates. Higher now to deal with inflation. By far the biggest reason for current inflation (yes, 2016 loss to sterling is still hurting us) is energy cost rises caused by Putin’s war in Ukraine.

  • @Jeff – I notice that you cherry picked an old ONS report, rather than the most recent one showing a fall in exports to the EU.

    The UK is indeed now free to negotiate new trade deals. Can you give us an example of a trade deal the UK has negotiated since 2019 with a major world economy that is better (in a meaningful way) than we enjoyed previously, rather than just rolling over the EU deal with a bit of tinkering? We don’t have a deal with India, and Braverman’s absurd posturing seems to have knocked that back.

    Quoting growing exports to non-EU countries that were achieved before Brexit maybe isn’t supporting your argument as much as you think it is. The fact that certain EU countries have long achieved much better export performance than the UK indicates that it wasn’t EU membership that was holding us back.

  • Barry Lofty 4th Nov '22 - 9:48pm

    We have not only lost the convenience of important trade deals that sit right on our doorstep but also the joint cooperation we shared with allies and friends that make our existence safer and friendlier and which has been highlighted in these most troubling of times.

  • @Nick Baird – “The fact that certain EU countries have long achieved much better export performance than the UK indicates that it wasn’t EU membership that was holding us back.”

    Don’t really need to look at other EU countries, you only really need to look at the UK data. Since joining the EU, the increased its exports to both EU and non-EU members, to the point – which Brexiteers like to point out – where in percentage terms we now export more to the rest-of-the-world than we do to the EU. However, looking at the monetary value of the exports we saw the EU exports steadily increasing, which would logically lead us to conclude the UK was becoming better at exporting, something that was Thatcher et al’s objective in setting up the Single Market; which naturally leads to the second conclusion: being in the EU/Single Market economically benefited the UK.

  • David Garlick 5th Nov '22 - 11:50am

    In an ageing population with a shrinking workforce no plan will be good enough without either an immediate and significant shift towards controlled immigration, temporary or otherwise. In the long term, permanent increases in the workforce may be offset to some extent by mechanisation/new tech.
    I suspect that Climate Change will be a catalist for planet wide mass migration in the tens of millions so a willing workforce will not be a problem.

  • James Fowler 5th Nov '22 - 12:40pm

    It’s everything. Brexit, lockdown, Russian aggression, ageing population, plus a few poor policy decisions. There’s no real point trying to single out a ‘pet’ cause and claiming it explains it all. If there’s a unifying theme here in the UK I might tentatively suggest a desperate bid to flee from the real world. We can see it in the tendency to bolt the door in face of anything that appears frightening. For the secure, little more is needed or wanted from the world except to be left in peace and retain what they have.

  • Peter Hirst 10th Nov '22 - 4:59pm

    Despite our woes and risking seeming irrelevant we as the third Party need to start talking more about our positive image for the country, where we would like it to be within this decade and how we would get there. We are a talented country and if we can get the basics right there is nothing we can’t achieve. They include restoring trust in our politics, taking long-term views and adopting policies that make us a more free, equal and inclusive society.

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