Welcome to my day: 16 May 2022 – the cat is, so to speak, out of the bag…

I spent part of my weekend in strangely familiar territory, with leaflets in hand. Honiton feels a bit like Stowmarket, my neighbouring town here in mid-Suffolk. For, whilst the surrounding countryside is agricultural, the town itself is not obviously prosperous – we’re not talking “touristy” here. Indeed, a bit like mid-Suffolk, any tourists are likely to heading onwards.

And, whilst the Guardian has discovered that a campaign has already broken out – really, guys, was that a surprise? – Liberal Democrat social media is abuzz with people either in Tiverton and Honiton or working out how to get there and when.

But the reports suggesting that Boris is a drag on Conservative support seem to be true from a very limited sample of potential voters and, in my view, this is a constituency where we should do well. Well enough to win is another matter, but you’ll never know unless you try.

Meanwhile, the fallout from Boris’s announcement of 90,000 less civil servants continues. Now I’m not one of those people who claim that job cuts would be disastrous – and I declare an interest here as a veteran public sector bureaucrat – but historically there has been a tendency to cut jobs first and then worry about the consequences later. Which is all well and good if the people you lose weren’t actually doing anything (highly improbable) but not when they’re fulfilling roles that only exist because of the decisions you’ve previously taken. And, given the trend for this government to make statements and only then consider how the proposals might be implemented, you wouldn’t be confident that there was anything other than a hastily constructed “plan” which will collapse on first contact with reality.

Talking of collapsing, whilst Jacob Rees-Mogg has been irritating civil servants by leaving notes on their desks, he’s also been primarily responsible for wasting potential billions of pounds on the restoration and renewal of the Palace of Westminster, as the Public Accounts Committee noted last week. The idea of refurbishing a historic building in very poor condition whilst continuing to use it as usual is absurd, dangerous and highly likely to be unsuccessful. Meg Hillier, the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, probably summed up the shambles that currently exists;

But then, if the Lords is going to decamp to Stoke, or Burnley (although Needham Market would be convenient…) – one of Michael Gove’s latest ideas – perhaps the risk of inhaling asbestos dust or being crushed by falling masonry is best left to the Commons.

But another week of Conservative headline chasing lies ahead of us so, without further ado, let the week begin!

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

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