Wednesday, 26th October, 2022

[Day 954]

We are still enjoying a spell of weather which is about 2-3 degrees warmer than the average for this time of year as a plume of warm air from the Sahara is being swept northwards. I suspect this is going to last for a day or so at the most, so it is a case of enjoying the mild weather whilst we can. Today is the day when our domestic help calls around and we always help each other with little gifts of food if we have an excess whilst cooking. Today, we have received a little present of some brioche which we are going to enjoy with some suitable accompaniments for our supper this evening when we come to prepare it. Meg and I made our usual trip to pick up our newspaper and then made for our usual bench in the park. There we communed with a variety of dog walkers as is our wont and then returned home to prepare a simple lunch of fishcakes.

This afternoon I busied myself with one of the more mundane but necessary tasks which is to get the labels off a collection of 200cl wine bottles with which our domestic help keeps me well supplied. These bottles are the ideal size for containing my damson gin when it comes to bottled in about mid to late December (in time for Christmas) This apparently simple job has its complexities. The neck of the bottle often has a little metal ring that needs to be cut off. As for the main labels, they do not just float off but have to be tackled with tough thumb nails and a variety of other implements. There are a variety of glues used and even the labels themselves sometimes separate into a top plasticised layer and a lower paper layer to which the glue has adhered. But over the years, I have learnt how to get a supply of really clean bottles that are ready for bottling when the time comes.

Now that one conservative prime minister has had to resign after a few disastrous weeks, there are a variety of articles to put the recent economic debacle into context. One that I have read helps to contextualise what is been happening : ‘The Brexit cult that blew up Britain’ and there are several others explaining how Trussonomics (Liz Truss version of economic theory) has failed so spectacularly (as, indeed, Rishi Sunak constantly predicted in the Tory leader election hustings but only a minority of conservative members believed him). The article explains how in the course of a decade a group of little-known politicians, fringe think tanks and outspoken media figures helped to drag the Tory Party to a Brexit-loving, free-market embracing,low-tax juggernaut. In this analysis, Brexit itself was only a stage in a much wider libertarian vision and the Brexit referendum would have been a defining moment. But the Brexit success only emboldened the libertarian right and then Boris Johnson had delivered Brexit into their laps, they were not unhappy to ditch Johnson and to enthusiastically to endorse Liz Truss who had espoused liberterian ideas for a long time. As Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary University, London has observed ‘They felt their moment at come at last.. This would prove that Brexit had not been a ghastly mistake but a fantastic opportunity. But, of course, as it was always based on fantasy, it was bound to collide with reality’ Now that this experiment has been shown to comprehensively fail, some of the extreme libertarian right are just saying, like a millenial cult, they feel that their theories have not been disproved but just badly implemented by an incompetent political operator (Liz Truss). Like other cults when asked to explain why the ‘spaceship’ did not arrive, they explained that they had just got the timing wrong and the ‘spaceship’ would arrive later.

Now that we have a Rishi Sunak cabinet in place, I was a little puzzled when Suella Braverman, the disgraced Home Secretary who was forced to resign by using her own personal phone to transmit government documents (strictly against all of the IT protocols for how government communications should be handled). However, we now have the full story. The Rishi Sunak government, rather than being a model of integrity, has shown itself to be the beneficiary of a squalid back-door deal in which Braverman promised to support Sunak and to bring votes with her in exchange for being reinstated as Home Secretary. The cabinet secretary, Simon Case, as well as Alistair Graham, former chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, said there were questions over whether her appointment was appropriate, especially because the breach was not examined by an ethics adviser. I have a feeling that this one is going to run and run – but already there is an air of sleaze hanging over the new government. As he was appointed the UK’s 57th prime minister behind closed doors by 200 or so Conservative MPs, this will invariably raise questions about his democratic mandate – for this reason, Sunak is sticking very closely to the 2019 electoral mandate.