John Oxley

The crisis at the heart of the Conservative party

The Tories struggle to decide what they want to do and are unable to implement the few ideas they have

It is always interesting to read the Wikipedia pages of plane crashes. Thanks to the data recovered from black boxes, especially the cockpit voice recordings, the last moments of flights can be recreated with vivid accuracy. The most interesting are those caused largely by human error.

In those final fateful moments, you can observe highly intelligent, highly trained professionals making error after error, gradually dooming them and their passengers. Despite the ringing alarms of the onboard systems, they lose sight of what they are doing or how to avoid the impending doom. They pull the joystick instead of releasing it, they shut down the working engine instead of the failing one, or sometimes the two pilots pull in different directions, cancelling each other out. Eventually, they hit the Point of No Return and, shortly after, the ground.

The current Conservative leadership election has a similar atmosphere. Every day in this interminably long contest, the final two candidates fire out press releases and half-formed policy proposals, only to wind them back in – flailing around the controls they want to wield in a month’s time. Meanwhile, the country heads towards crisis.

Neither Rishi Sunak nor Liz Truss appears to recognise or acknowledge the looming problems Britain faces, both in the short and the long term. Analysts predict that this winter the energy price cap will hit £4,400. For the average household, this will represent 14 per cent of their post-tax income. As an isolated threat, that would mean deep discomfort for many households. Combined with other price rises and increasing interest rates, it will mean destitution. Government will have to act to prevent this, yet everything promised so far is lacklustre.

The grants already in place will cover less than 10 per cent of the cap limit. Abolishing VAT on domestic fuel would knock another 200 quid or so off, while removing the green levy would drop it by £155.

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