Welcome to my day: 11 September 2023 – everything changes yet nothing does…

Regular readers might have wondered where I’ve been for the past month or so (and for those of you who didn’t, I’m afraid that you going to get the answer anyway).

It is perhaps a marker that I’m growing older that I’ve been away on grandparent duty. Given that I have no children of my own, it’s an interesting reflection of how family life has changed with the advent of the right to divorce, or the emergence of non-traditional family structures, that allows someone like me (childless by choice) to step into the role of “Grandpa” to a small child. And, whilst I approach the role with a combination of love and trepidation, it’s been fun thus far.

I’m also undergoing some upheaval here at home, which I might explain at some point, but the key word at the moment is change.

Sadly, our politics isn’t doing much of that. A new face or two, yes, but the Government seems determined to faceplant itself at every opportunity – whether it’s legionnaire’s disease on the Bibby Stockholm, crumbling concrete in our schools, hospitals and other public buildings, or the lack of funding certainty for that bedrock of historic Conservative support, farmers.

It’s an indication of two of the key flaws that this Government exhibits, a lack of long term thinking and a failure to understand how things work in real life.

Even an exiled city dweller such as I understands that, in a free market, farmers will make choices based on a range of financial indicators, including what their soil conditions will best produce, what world forward markets are predicted to look like and what government subsidies are available. Late decisions from Government about how the subsidy regime will work in the year ahead really don’t help and it’s not as though this should come as a surprise to anybody, especially when certain promises have been made about the quantum of that support. Perhaps it was only meant to be an aspiration in the minds of the likes of Michael Gove?

And, as for the refugee crisis – by which I mean the crisis in terms of how they’re treated – a Government which knew how things worked would realise that if you abolish all regular means of applying for asylum, you leave people with just irregular ones. Funnily enough, that pushes people into the hands of those willing to take risks in return for large sums of money. Of course, creating safe means to apply elsewhere, or funding more efficient processing of applications would reduce the need to block book hotels, build holding complexes or rent prison hulks.

And taking local authorities out of the equation in terms of the management of school estates for purely ideological reasons hardly helped in terms of monitoring their condition. David Mitchell, in the Guardian this weekend, was scathing as he pointed out what cutting the capital budget for school building meant. And that one’s on you, Rishi…

All of that said, our return to Horizon is something that the Government should be commended for, even though it must stick in the craw of the Brexit ultras. Who would have thought that making a financial contribution towards the costs of running an international collaborative programme, pooling some sovereignty to do so, might have benefits. I wonder if this might offer further, wider opportunities going forward? Such a realisation might already be in the minds of the more thinking Conservatives, albeit that most of those were either expelled or are far from the levers of power in this country. Nevertheless…

* Mark Valladares is the Monday Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice.

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2 Comments

  • Peter Martin 11th Sep '23 - 9:25am

    This day is also the 50th anniversary of the 1973 Chilean military coup which deposed the democratically elected government of President Allende and allowed the so-called “Chicago Boys” to enthusiastically conduct their neoliberal experiments.

    This pseudo theory was shortly to be followed in the UK by Mrs Thatcher and to some extent by the Labour government under Jim Callaghan. It is the underlying reason why inequality has increased sharply in the UK too.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/nov/13/why-is-inequality-booming-in-chile-blame-the-chicago-boys

  • Graham Jeffs 11th Sep '23 - 10:57am

    Ensuring a viable agriculture industry should be high on the agenda for all parties.

    The demographics are challenging, the finances for many are challenging, food security for the UK is challenging. Why is there so little focus on this?

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