One of the favourite phrases of British political commentators is ‘oppositions don’t win elections, governments lose them’. As with all clichés, there is a certain amount of truth to it. But both the Tories and Labour seem intent on testing the maxim to destruction: despite everything the Tories appear to be doing to ensure they lose the next election, Labour is still only ahead by single digits in the opinion polls.
No incumbent party in the western world is finding the present set of circumstances easy.
There’s a left-wing internet advocacy group called 38 Degrees which suggests to its followers that all they have to do is click a button and all the bad things in the world will be outlawed. It is a pleasant conceit. Its name derives from the angle at which snowflakes come together to form an avalanche, which is nicely self-deprecating of it. The problem is that so few people believe in its drivel that the closest it gets is about six degrees, which is the angle at which snowflakes remain exactly where they are until it thaws and they melt.
In this most holy month of Pride I have been making my observances by thinking about shame. After all, shame is the reason that ‘Pride’ has taken on the meaning it has in recent years. If gay people were once made to feel shame for their sexuality then the counterbalance was apparently to encourage them to feel pride in it. A preferable countermove for some of us would have been simple equality, making sexual preference morally neutral: neither worse nor better.
One is not usually surprised by opinions volunteered to parliamentary hopefuls by voters on whose doors the candidate has knocked; but last week, dropping in on the Tiverton and Honiton by-election, I was taken aback by a subject that came up a number of times. It seemed so relatively unimportant.
The door-knocker in this case was Richard Foord, the Liberal Democrat candidate in a safe Conservative seat that looked in imminent danger of falling to his party.
Check out these hyperventilating headlines from last week: ‘What the Fed’s largest interest rate hike in decades means for you’ (PBS.org). ‘Federal Reserve interest rate hike opens new era for economy’ (Washington Post). ‘The Fed delivers biggest rate hike in decades to fight inflation’ (National Public Radio). ‘Fed goes for inflation’s jugular with 75bps rate hike’ (Schwab).
While it’s true that the US Federal Reserve has not hiked its funds rate by 0.
If anyone was suitable to be the Prime Minister’s adviser on ministerial interests, it was Lord Geidt. Self-effacing, professional, unself-righteous but thoroughly proper, he could be relied on to do his job without an eye to attracting headlines, gaining Remainer revenge and similar modern temptations to which some officials succumb. Yet last week he resigned. It seems a good moment to ask whether the job is doable. Many will say that it isn’t, and blame Boris Johnson.
Here I go again, in my occasional role as your intrepid transport correspondent. Last week I reported on airport chaos, last month on the opening of the Elizabeth line. Now here I am boldly defying the rail strike on a Grand Central train from York to King’s Cross.
To be honest, on a perfect sunny morning, it feels less stressful than my regular journeys on this crowded and often disrupted line. The RMT pickets at the station entrance were less aggressive than the pigeons on the platform trying to steal a bite of my bacon roll.