You know something is up for a dying government when the Head Honcho begs the United Kingdom, in each of three nations the Tories have representatives, to judge his government on the effort put in and results achieved. Given they have been in power for nearly 13 (unlucky for some) years you would imagine that CCHQ would not want to confirm to the general populous that their record is exactly what it is – abject failure based on a lack of talent and paucity of ambition. Rishi Sunak said recently: “I voted for Brexit. I believe in Brexit.”This is enough to confirm where we are as a country: yesterday’s battles for yesterday’s responses to yesterday’s policies.
Sunak’s five promises
The five promises Rishi Sunak made are:
- Halve inflation
- Grow the economy
- Reduce debt
- Cut waiting lists
- Stop the boats
Apparently these are “the people’s priorities”, and while laudable I fail to see what kind of policy programme a Prime Minister, who’s main achievement is staying office longer than Liz Truss, can deliver to put into effect these pledges given that he as at the top of an incredibly wobbly House of Cards.
So, taking each in turn let’s have look at their record since Sunak became Prime Minister:
According to The Office for National Statistics (ONS) the CPIH Annual rate of inflation stood at its second highest rate (of 9.3%), the highest record being October 2022 at a rate of 9.6%, in its end of year 2022 report. As you can see from the graph below, taken from this report, Sunak’s entire time as PM has seen inflationary pressures increase on those who can least afford it – who now include not just those on low pay, but those in the healthcare system, railway workers and drivers, and so many more besides.
Boris Johnson might seem like lightyears ago, but Sunak is just as heavy on the boosterism and slogans and just as light on the detail. Every policy his government has put into effect ignores the impact of inflation on the basic needs of people in work: food, heating, and fuel costs continue to rise. Can he halve inflation single-handed?
Grow the Economy
For someone who believes so strongly in Brexit, it will surely come as a shock to Rishi Sunak that of the G7 nations the United Kingdom has the lowest growth by comparison to pre-pandemic levels.
Equally, it will come as an even bigger shock to him that the UK is predicted to have the lowest GDP Growth forecast of any G7 nation. Why? Well, the combination of the pandemic and – elephant in the room – Brexit!
Given we are cut off from our nearest trading partners, our single largest market and unable to move freely as European citizens can Sunak grow the economy?
Outlook: Doubtful at best
Currently, the United Kingdom’s Debt to GDP ratio (at least according to the most recent ONS Dataset – 28/10/2022) has fallen slightly to 101.9% which is equivalent to £2,436.7 billion. While it is welcome that this is a slight fall (of 4.7%) from the previous year’s quarter 2 data, nevertheless this figure leaves the UK at 15.5% points above the EU average.
Like with growing the economy, because we are cut off from – thanks to the hard Brexit Sunak trumpets – the levers which could help us to work multilaterally to cut debt we are in a unilaterally imposed straitjacket of being able to do nothing.
The only measures I have seen which Sunak seems to think can help reduce debt are – cutting public spending and, erm, cutting public spending. Just at a time when local authorities are on their knees (with more cuts, equalling 2010’s, on the way), schools are going bankrupt and the NHS is facing down the barrel of a potentially catastrophic winter.
Without real increases in spending on infrastructure, the Health Service, social care and education the economy will not grow, nor will the UK’s GDP/debt ratio fall. To take just one example, public confidence and wages were so low at Christmas that in the run-up to the day itself, normally the high street’s busiest time of year, the streets of the City of Durham were hardly filled at best or at worst (for example on Christmas Eve morning) completely empty with some shops not opening due to the complete lack of footfall.
Cut waiting lists
Perhaps the only initial response to this pledge is the video of Steve Barclay, late of DExEU and now Health Secretary, being heckled by a member of the public in London:
Then, as now, the member of the public was spot on – the Tories have had 12 years to sort out the NHS and they have done nothing. It is difficult to see how NHS waiting lists will change, beyond going up, given that the Health Secretary now refuses to actively engage with the Royal College of Nursing, which in England went out on strike for the first time in its 100-year history ahead of Christmas, and other trades unions to resolve pay disputes and also ensure that ambulance crews, nurses and doctors are paid a fair wage.
Of course, there are plenty of examples you could use to illustrate the problem, but working backwards from lack of social care beds to enable discharge from hospital to A&E we can see a common pattern from this government – say a lot, do nothing. If ambulances are on stand outside an A&E for over 13 hours then they cannot pick up new patients and without the beds needed for these new patients the Waiting Lists will grow and the problem will only get worse.
Outlook: Absolutely miserable
Stop the boats
The surest sign of failure of the government is that they could not deliver any of the golden eggs of Brexit promises, let alone taking control of our borders. Why? Well, without cooperation with the European Union, and being part of its migration/immigration systems, we cannot know where any of the people crossing the Channel have been nor their reason for claiming asylum in the UK. The standard response is “more Rwanda”, “deport them”, or “send our officers to France” the list goes on. But, without genuine engagement with our nearest neighbours, Border Force (who also went out on strike) being paid a fair wage and information being delivered in real-time nothing will change. Indeed, as Statista reported under the government which Sunak has been a prominent member of there has been a year-on-year increase of the numbers of people crossing the Channel in small boats since 2018:
The Tories’ record on actioning promises, providing a safe/secure welcome to those in need and largely lacking in action which could help them. Dog whistle politics has infested the debate and has led to the dehumanisation of those who are in need of the UK’s normally welcoming arms.
Outlook: Absolutely grim
Overall Outlook: A record of failure, a promise of more!
Perhaps the government should put the same effort into actually engaging with the UK’s problems as they do into thinking up staged press conferences? That might just be the way forward. We shall see what happens, but the results will speak for themselves.
I for one am not holding my breath as the Tories quite clearly care more about what they will move on to once this zombie government leaves Westminster than anything else, it is depressing to say the very least!