Disillusioned but Nevertheless True

I had always thought that it was Deng XiaoPing who said that it was too soon to tell whether the French Revolution had been successful.
I’ve since been updated insofar as it was Chou EnLai talking to Richard Nixon in 1972 and the comment referred to the 1968 student demonstrations
Nevertheless, it does illustrate that revolutions tend to have long tails. In modern times we can look at the 1917 Russian revolution and the Irish Civil War of 1922 as illustrative.
Tim Stanley writing in the Daily Telegraph on 31st October under the banner headline that “the Brexit revolution has come to an end” argued that as with France in 1799, the elites are back in control, but Britain has still been changed for the better.
“…why did the Tories elect Liz Truss even though it was obvious six weeks ago, now confirmed, that Rishi would be a far better PM? My theory is that we all subconsciously knew that Sunak spelled the end of the Brexit revolution. Not its reversal but, like Napoleon’s coup of 1799, the defeat of its radical spirit.
Brexit conforms to the four stages of the French Revolution: crisis, contradiction, purification and reaction. In 1789, Louis XVI called an Estates General in his quest to raise cash; in 2016, David Cameron called a referendum to eliminate Euroscepticism. Both backfired. The Estates General demanded a constitutional monarchy and the Brits voted to leave the EU, so Louis fled to Varennes and Dave to his garden shed.
Theresa May now tried to ride two visions of the new order – protectionist and paternalist vs free trade and liberal – and with Parliament fractured, and counter-revolutionaries conspiring, she was unable to get us out of the EU. This necessitated the election of Boris Johnson, the British Georges Danton, a literate rake, a champion of the people. His instincts were small state but, being a populist, was inclined to give the mob what it wanted – hence he marched us out of Europe but also rebranded Tory politics as faux-European. Conservatism became Gaullist: culturally conservative and littered with grands projets.
I liked it, but Boris will be Boris and his regime collapsed in scandal. With the PM forced to retire (Danton took refuge in Acris, Big Dog at the Casa del Campo), we entered our Jacobin phase of ideological intensification. Yes, Liz Truss was our Maximilien Robespierre, and though her utopian vision was far more modest than critics made out, the very idea that we might guillotine the board of the Bank of England triggered a Thermidorian Reaction.
The French decapitated Robespierre and installed a collective leadership till Napoleon took power. In Britain, some faceless men pulled off a coup to install Sunak in four days flat, which was impressive for a country where it can take six months to replace a boiler.
Looking back on the 1790s, many Frenchmen asked what the point of their revolution had been. They killed a king and finished with an emperor.
Yet feudalism was also eliminated, and the French now saw themselves as a nation, with a Left and a Right, both espousing liberties – the rights of the people – they each claimed to be more willing to protect. Here, Britain is out of the EU for good. The greatest testament to the permanence of Brexit is that even the Labour Party accepts it, and is patriotic and critical of free movement (have you noticed how often its MPs are on GB News?). At some point, a Labour government, or a Tory one, may well put us back in the Single Market, for if we are not willing to reform tax and trade on the lines Citizen Truss wanted, then we’ll wind up a stagnating economy trapped behind a tariff wall. And how else do we resolve Northern Ireland?
But even if that came to pass, we have still dodged the bullet of European political integration, re-establishing Britain as an Atlantic-facing nation, global and yet parochial. Sunak, elected in just 2015, is a child of that revolution, even if he doesn’t entirely understand what the founding fathers wanted. I recall seeing him interviewed at the 2019 Tory conference where he was asked to name the best bit of Brexit. The correct answer is “freedom”. He gushed, “Free trade zones!”
I preferred it when Boris reputedly said “F business”. I translated it from the unpardonable French to mean: “Something matters more than making money, and we will not be dictated to by the markets” – which is precisely what has now happened. Rishi will never blaspheme against business. His job is to sell austerity, hiking taxes on the middle class and cutting services for the poor, sugaring the pill by appointing Suella Braverman to the Home Office and Kemi Badenoch to equalities; culture war bribes to the Red Wall sans-culottes.
I’ll be honest: I miss the hope-filled Sturm und Drang of early Brexit, of the sense of forces unleashed and institutions scaled. One could almost hear the glass shattering in Whitehall.
But I have no right to impose an ideological vision on the country, especially when the chief issues now are feeding our people and keeping the lights on (I’m not Greta Thunberg), and I take comfort in what our revolution has achieved.
It has given us greater sovereignty, an empowered parliament, municipal conservatism, controlled legal migration, levelling-up, a renaissance of journalism, books and independent TV. I believe our era will be regarded as a golden age of debate, when, after decades of consensus, real ideas were passionately interrogated and regular citizens elevated to the king and queen of politics.
Like the French in 1799, we are a different society now: Labour stands for the King, the Tories kneel before the voters of Grimsby. Brexit has made Britain a better place.”
But we still voted for Truss and ended up with Sunak. The Conservative Party activists are pondering their futures as members and candidates in next May’s local elections are asking how many Hail Mary’s do they need to win their seats.
See https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2022/10/31/brexit-revolution-has-come-end/

Tim Stanley

Tribal Attacks

David Ellesmere

A version of the following letter appeared in the East Anglian Daily Times on Saturday (29th October). Ellesmere is Leader of Ipswich Borough Council (and is a vociferous Labour party member). He appears more or less every Monday in the EADT. I read his column to ensure that my low blood pressure is raised to an appropriate level. Last week I had had enough hence my response. Please enjoy or ignore as appropriate.

Dear Sir,
David Ellesmere on Monday (No Tories can be trusted to act in our best interests) paints his usual one-sided picture attacking the Government of the Day. Yes, I voted for Liz Truss – why, because she offered a vision of the future which I found attractive rather than the bleak outlook offered by Rishi. My regret is that the supply side economic vision was not sold properly on the establishment. I suspect that the Treasury did not like the ideas and neglected to get the Bank of England on side – thus when purse strings should have been loosened, they were tightened by the means of raising interest rates to dampen demand. And yet, inflation is not being caused by excess financial demands. Rising costs are being caused by increased fuel costs, lack of supplies in the Italian pasta belt and the shortage of sunflower oil (from Ukraine) and so on.
Putting up interest rates will shrink the economy, reduce business opportunities and penalise the working middle classes and the poor. The first will suffer because their aspirations will be blunted and the poor because their opportunities to get on the working ladder will be further reduced.
The Bank of England were late recognising that there were inflationary pressures following on from the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the Russians squeezing their oil supplies to Europe.
But what are the choices for the electorate after Rishi Sunak? Labour is united behind a doctrine of no policies except to criticise everything as being too early, too late, too little, too much. They would have shut down the economy sooner and prolonged it further than Boris Johnson.
Mr Ellesmere should concentrate upon making Ipswich more attractive and stop complaining that not enough Government money is forthcoming. He cannot publicly criticise the government and then expect to be treated generously. Some Labour Mayors understand this only too well. They keep political purity and recognise the need to work with the centre.
Like Mr Ellesmere I regret the current economic realities. We are well placed compared to our European neighbours and our borrowing levels are not excessive. Although Mr Ellesmere claimed that the Bank of England had spent £65billion over a few days in supporting the Gilts market – the real figure as of last week was around £20billion over three weeks.  But then any extravagance in speech is worth it if it makes a point.
Let’s focus on Ipswich. The new owners of the football club are bringing millions in development funds to the town. Let’s make sure that Ipswich Borough Council supports those developments and stops seeing itself as a permanent victim of whatever economic winds are blowing.
Yours faithfully,
Brian Riley

Liz for Leader

Earlier this month the Conservative Home website showed Liz Truss leading Rishi Sunak by 32% polling 60% membership support versus 28% for Sunak.
So, one must ask why hasn’t Sunak thrown in the towel and conceded that the gap (which has shown no sign of closing) is too big to allow him to achieve a majority of party voters. (Spoiler alert: I voted for Truss).
The answer must be that Sunak has been saying the Hindu equivalent of Hail Marys hoping for a slip up by Truss.
It seemed as though his prayers had been answered, when Truss was reported saying that as a country, we need to work better as our productivity has for a long time lagged behind that of our rivals. The usual suspects have derided these comments as attacks on the working man, but we do need to achieve greater productivity and stop resisting more effective ways of being more productive.
The railwaymen’s strike is a good case in point where they wish to keep all ticket offices open, when it is no longer necessary to keep each office manned.
Fortunately, the Truss supporters have rallied to her side.
The Left wish to dictate our choices, often by removing them or by seeking to occupy a spurious higher ground.
Earlier this year Liz Truss was criticised for lunching a U.S. Trade Representative at a private Mayfair club. The lunch for ten people cost £1,400, which all in all doesn’t seem too bad.
If Labour was not afraid of Liz Truss, they would not try to denigrate her.
Sunak should concede the battle and let the party get on with winning the next election.
Meanwhile I voted for Liz some time ago.

Millions of Ghost Patients

According to the Daily Mail and highlighted by the Taxpayers’ Alliance there are 61.7 million people registered at GP practices in England despite there only being 56.5 million people in the country -meaning there are 5.2 million ghost patients. (Which is around a 10% overcounting).
The ghost patients are costing the country over £800,000 a year. A sum which would support more than a few nurses.
As it is, at the moment the overcounting lets the British Medical Association (the doctors’ trade union) claim that they are overworked simply by looking at the average number of patients per doctor.
The NHS must have its own inspectorate and checking a sample of patients’ names against the electoral register would throw up an instant list of names to be investigated.
It’s not rocket science – but quite often simple solutions are.

The Will of the People

One of the joys of the East Anglian Daily Times is that it not only features regular letter contributors but it also allows for ideas to be developed,
One such correspondent is John Dell from Shotley who recently has been arguing that the Brexit vote did not reflect the will of the people, as the Remainers and the Abstainers outnumbered the Brexiteers.
As readers if this blog will know, I greatly believe in voting. If you don’t vote then your views do not count and you are only a whisker away from not mattering.
Acknowledging John’s position on this issue I caused the following letter to the editor was published by the EADT on 30th June.
Dear Sir
Let trumpets sound. Let the bells ring throughout Suffolk. Let there be bunting and dancing in the streets all along the Shotley/Pinewood corridor. John Dell (EADT letters 24th June) and I seem to have found something we can agree on in respect of the statistics regarding voting for the UK/EU referendum.
If you add the abstaining votes to the Remainers then 29 million people did not vote for Brexit. But fairness demands that you also add the abstainers to those who voted against remaining in the EU. The overall result is the same but by reclassifying the abstainers as being both against Brexit and against Remaining then you have an accurate and verifiable result based on 128% of the electorate. Thus surpassing anything seen, so far, in Russia, China or North Korea.
Abstainers effectively assign their votes to those who do vote.
But the Dell-Riley principle of counting abstainers twice revolutionises vote reporting and allows everyone to move forward
Such is the joy of the Dell Riley principle; it lets the voting outcome to truly be the will of the people and lets political activists harmonise political wistfulness with political reality and so happiness can be achieved all around.
And that is my contribution to Suffolk happiness this week
The full correspondence is below.

Meanwhile on Planet Babergh

Just when you think that lessons have been learned, you realise that very few people pay attention to history, whether it is recent history or not.
Readers of this blog may recall that on May 3rd 2016 I posted a commentary on the then continuing saga of East House, which Suffolk County Council had handed back to Babergh who didn’t know what to do with it except to evict the tenants and leave it empty. The unfortunate history of East House is that whilst Babergh made up its mind, the market moved on and any rehabilitation/upgrading with a view to selling was rendered uneconomic.
This week’s news is that Babergh District Council are to increase the debt threshold for Babergh Growth Ltd., from £3,7 million to £7m to facilitate cash flow. The company is responsible for the redevelopment of Babergh’s former offices in Corks Lane We can assume that the cash will be flowing all one way for some time to come as the cash holdings of the company were only £61,433 at 31st March 2021.
The development is expected to realise 57 homes. Due to increased costs and impacts from Brexit, the war in Ukraine and inflation, the costs of the scheme have gone up by £680,000 over four years– which begs the question why is there an increase in borrowing powers of £3.3 million.
And now comes the prize-winning comment from the Great Leader of the Rainbow Coalitioned Council (John Ward) “Ultimately the development is still expected to break even or even show a modest profit”
Why are we undertaking a marginal project? You can almost hear echoes of “With a fair wind and a few sunny days, this time next year we could all be millionaires”
It’s time to go back to basics. The economic outlook is not good and the project needs to be reworked to bring the projections back to a reality which will give comfort to the residents that their leaders know what they are doing.

The Great Helmsman

I like reading spy novels. Whether it is The Three Musketeers, through to
John Le Carré and currently Mick Herron’s Jackson Lamb series. Through all the novels you can see the need for informational intelligence. Even Peaky Blinders has strong elements of inside knowledge, whether it is fixing races or choosing which side of a contest you will be on. Reading spy novels also let’s you explore the how, what and why of any situation
So, I greeted the news with interest that John Ward, Leader of Babergh District Council has resigned from the Conservative Group, has formed an Independent Conservative Group with three others and is now heading up a rainbow coalition with other minority party councillors.
What is going on?
We are told it arises from the dismissal from the Cabinet of an independent councillor which lead four other councillors to resign from the Cabinet. Plans to form a minority administration with other Conservative councillors fell by the wayside and so one thing lead to another.
There was a meeting of the (Conservative Councillor) group on Sunday 24th John Ward’s proposals were unacceptable. I guess that at some point the toys went out of the pram, a huff was called and John went off in it.
On the Monday John resigned from the Conservatives and formed his so-called Rainbow Cabinet.
How the Rainbow Cabinet members will be successful in the next district election in 2023, I cannot tell. But South Suffolk Conservatives (the councillors’ sponsoring organisation) must decide how this affects their plans.
Constitutionally, the defecting members must either resign from the party or be expelled. In either case they face the prospect of having official candidates stand against them and also having to pay off their 2019 election expenses.
For the time being John Ward remains the Great Leader, resting upon the support of the Independent Conservatives, The Independents, The Lib-Dems and the Greens.
I can see it all ending in tears. The Shotley Independents and the Greens are against car park subsidies, particularly in the two towns of Sudbury and Hadleigh. I guess that the headline Council Tax will come down or will be less than the Government cap and any shortfall will be met by increased parking charges and increases in any other charges that can be levied.
Watch out for higher planning fees, brown bin fees and so on.
John Ward is holding onto his powers not because he has a great vision that he must implement. He’s holding on because he doesn’t want to be a back bencher and this way he upholds his amour propre.
Such a position does not bode well for Babergh nor for Councillor Ward
Photo © Greg Fitchett (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Trollery in Suffolk

For some time, I have harboured the suspicion that the letters page of the East Anglian Daily Times has been infiltrated by Russian trolls or worse.
Let us look at the correspondence of John Dell (actually a real person – but who may not be the actual correspondent). His letters usually have two themes. First is that Brexit was a huge mistake and every disadvantage experienced by Britain should be exposed.
The second view is that the Prime Minister is unfit for the job.
On March 7th he quoted the Russian ambassador saying that “they (the Russians) have crushed Britain to the ground, they (the British) are on their knees and will not rise again for a very long time” Dell, found it difficult to disagree!
Where has Dell been? Have his eyes and ears been open to current events?
The Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24th, some ten days prior to the letter.
As for the ambassador’s comments, I’m sure his words are a comfort to the occupants of the Russian tanks destroyed in Ukraine by British weaponry.
On March 28th Dell conflated the Ukraine’s wish to join the EU with the British vote to leave, reinforcing his view regarding the regrettablity of the latter.
I don’t mind partisanship. But I object to people taking me for a fool. Thus, my conclusion that these extreme positions are being articulated by one or more trolls.

A Pie Too Far

I have a native Suffolk friend who is not unadventurous but is famous for the phrase “I’ve never tasted it but I don’t think I’ll like it” when confronted with new (usually foreign) food. This is not unwarranted xenophobia as Suffolk has a long history of invasion from Caesar’s visit to Boudica’s Iceni through to the Anglo Saxons, Danes, Vikings and Normans from Northern France. Such a response can also be seen in many people’s resistance to change, even though for the most part the only constant is change.
But some changes can be seen as a step too far.
Thus I was bemused and then possibly horrified to learn that a vegetarian pie has claimed the Supreme Champion crown at this year’s British Pie Awards in Melton Mowbray.
There were 23 different classes of hot and cold savoury and dessert pies and pasties for the 151 judges to consider at the competition. The contest played out over three days and took place at St Mary’s Church in the home of the pork pie, Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire.
And there is the essence of a Melton Mowbray pie. Pork!
The winning entry was made with vegetarian jackfruit ‘steak’, gluten-free craft ale and black pepper.
The judges praised the pies ‘crunchy’ pastry and ‘moist filling’
Matthew O’Callaghan, chairman of the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association and host of the British Pie Awards, said: “This was a superb pie, it looked good, had a nice even golden bake.
“The pastry was crunchy complemented by the moist filling which had ‘bite’ and the balance of flavours in the pie was just right.
With this pie, gluten-free pies are now equal to any other pie.
“Being vegetarian and gluten free, Pieminister’s Mooless Pie is an ‘everybody’s pie’, be they vegetarian or meat eater, gluten tolerant or intolerant. Serve this at a meal and almost everyone’s a winner.”
The judges, many of whom are experts and old hands, were asked to mark the pies on criteria including eating qualities, the filling, and how a maker could improve their entry.
The Mooless pie is shown above and more details can be found at https://pieminister.co.uk/pies/mooless-moo/
Why you should want a meatless meat pie I do not know but I congratulate the marketing whizz who dreamed up the idea once he found a good recipe. As for the pie tasting burghers of Melton Mowbray they can only deserve what they get.


Vanity of Vanities; All is Vanity

The Church of the Militant Elvis Party first appeared on the national political scene in 2001 when the party stood in Brentwood (Essex) where it ran in the General Election against Eric Pickles and Martin Bell. As a very minor party it unsurprisingly garnered 68 votes.
The party contests all General Elections and some by-elections. Their beliefs include Elvis still being alive and living in an old people’s home on the Lincolnshire coast somewhere between Skegness and Mablethorpe.
Its aims are to combat the influence of various right-wing churches on mainstream parties in the U.K.
Furthermore, the Party believes that the established church’s involvement with the global market is yet another contradiction of Jesus’s teachings. They are also interested in stopping the degradation of the planet by capitalism and the attacks on old people’s welfare in the UK.
So far so good. I came across them this month when I was looking at the by-election results for Erdington (Birmingham) when the party came last with 8 votes. Usually, they score between 50 and 200 votes each time and to end the latest campaigning season with only 8 votes seriously suggests that they are having trouble getting their message across or that they have become the Billy No-Mates of political parties.
All in all, the ratio of cost to votes indicates that standing in elections can be a vanity project beyond understanding.
Since power comes from the people and respecting the King, I’m pleased to plug their web site: https://grumpyoldelvis.co.uk/