There is a very good analysis by Clare Foges in “The Times” today about our current failures of government which rings true in every detail. We have teetered towards the cliff edge from time to time in my 74-year lifetime but nothing comes anywhere near the chaos of the past four plus years. There have been culpable military errors of judgment (Suez, Afghanistan…) and shameful betrayals (Hong Kong) . There have been abject failures to understand the divides in our society (Heath and Thatcher on the miners) and cowardly failures to reform our dysfunctionality (Wilson and Callaghan on the Unions). But nothing remotely compares with the “goatf***” of today.
Senior ex ministers and ex Prime Ministers seem united that the current Cabinet is the worst in living memory. Add in the extraordinary shallowness of the lobby fodder sitting on the benches behind our empty Prime Minister – fodder whose sole role seems to be to cheer when he bumbles inanities – and you have a recipe for chaos. And that’s what we’ve got.
Campaigning politicians with vision are rare in modern Britain. Thatcher perhaps the only one post war though Harold Wilson’s governments created genuine social change. But competence was generally to be relied upon. Economic crises happened all too frequently but from Healey to Jenkins, Major to Brown we had people at the top eventually to cope with them. Today Rishi Sunak is the only one who appears even marginally competent and when push comes to shove early in the New Year this may be sorely tested.
What is modern Britain ? Sadly a broken, divided nation doing the wrong thing at the wrong time for the wrong reasons. Is there nothing we can do well ? Sadly not. And part of that comes from appointing manifestly unsuitable people to important jobs. And then communicating in a way designed, it seems, to give offence. Is the Home Office really the cesspit it’s recent communications on our loss of Freedom of Movement suggest it is. Or is it just the malignancy of the Ministers running it ?
The Shakespearean inanities of the infighting in Johnson’s kitchen cabinet ought to be the source of a rip-roaring comedy or farce. But this isn’t a tale of the Emperor being entertained by his fool. No, the Emperor himself is the fool who cannot be taken seriously and his courtiers are sycophantic failures.