We won’t forget 2022 in a hurry. When we look back to what we were doing this time last Christmas and New Year it is hard to imagine that everything we remember about the year was packed into such a short timespan.
I struggled to find one image for the cover of this blog that summed up UK politics. But perhaps the Truss premiership does sum up everything that was wrong with Britain in 2022. What photo would sum up your year?
The End of Johnson Finally (or is it?)
We finally saw the humiliating end for Johnson. It was how I would have wished to see him go. Forced out by his own MPs. He still couldn’t go gracefully or even recognise why he was forced out (as we saw by his attempt to come back in the Leadership election). So I am not sure we have quite seen the last of him. He will be trouble for Sunak during the rest of of this parliament. He still has his supporters in the parliamentary party in amongst the 160,000 members. Sadly our own Loughborough MP Jane Hunt is amongst those. Anybody still left supporting Johnson for PM lacks any integrity. Not just my words but those of sensible Tory MPs I speak to. I truly hope that we see less or nothing of Johnson in 2023 and that he slips off the political scene. His ego has already done enough damage to the UK.
The Truss Experiment
What on earth happened in the Summer. Most of outside the 160,000 Tory party membership just had to sit and watch as this slow motion car crash happened. I told as many Tory members and MPs as I could that whilst a Truss premiership would be good new for Labour, it would be disaster for the country. In the national interest I pleaded for them to avert this disaster. Looking back can you now find anybody who voted for her and thinks it wasn’t a mistake? But as Polly Toynbee put it – Don’t forgive and don’t forget too easily
The end of Covid (Not quite)
Most people have moved on from even talking about Covid. We haven’t. Our son has Long Covid and after 6 months is only just about ready to return to working part time. He is not alone. There are millions like him at various stages of LC. There are also millions who are still vulnerable who now seem long forgotten. Not one for today but certainly a theme for VFM and our work at SajeImpact.
Labour Poll leads
Labour is currently enjoying the sort of Poll leads opposition parties can only dream of. First, we are a long way from a General Election (GE) and these leads won’t last at this level on polling day. Second, much of the lead is dissatisfaction with the Tories rather than enthusiasm for Labour. But the time between now and the GE is the test for Labour. Can it keep the Tories non the rope (seem the Tory MPs will continue to be helpful with this) and can Starmer build a vision for the voters of what voting Labour will mean? That is the task over the next 12-18 months. The fact that we ae even talking about a possible Labour victory is a miracle in itself. Starmer had a plan and has stuck to it regardless. Fortunately for him Johnson and Tory MPs have given Labour an opportunity that felt impossible in 2019 when even Johnson thought he would be King forever!
Will the Tories Recover in 2023
Who knows and frankly I hope not. Many of the Tory MPs and former parliamentarians I speak to believe it’s time for them to try opposition. They are fractious, and tired. They have no interest in the country and put themselves and their party first. For everybody’s sake it is time for a General Election and fresh start.
Why nothing seems to work – Britain is broken
One of the most depressing aspects of the last 12 years of Tory government is just how broken Britain feels. Nothing seems to work anymore. Our cost of living crisis is compounded by the Tories dismantling of the state and the destruction of the public realm. From transport to housing. From adult to child social care it all feels rotten. The inequalities have grown so millions suffer some of the worst poverty in western democracies whilst others enjoy a bonanza at their expense. We all know people and friends who are struggling like never before. It may be feeling worse because it’s winter but we need to rescue our country before it is too late. Massive investment is needed in people, place and infrastructure. I want to talk about wellbeing, but it feels we have such a long way to go even to let people have the basics of a decent fulfilled life.
Can we talk about Brexit please?
Towards the end of 2022 the polls were showing what had been evident for some time. Voters are also seeing that #Brexit isn’t working and never will. There has been a politicla conspiracy of silence amongst our political leaders for obvious but very different reasons. The Tories can’t admit it was a massive mistake and Labour fears opening up the debate about honouring the ‘mandate of the referendum’. I just hope in 2023 we can start to talk in detail about what making Brexit work means. We all know we need to work really hard with our European friends to build trust and hopefully a way for closer alignment and eventually entry to the Customs Union and Single Market? The question is more about how and when not if.
And can we talk about Republicanism?
I have been a lifelong republican. But I have recognised that whilst the Queen was on the throne any realistic national debate about the absurdity of a head of state being selected by accident of birth centuries ago was impossible. There have of course been wobbles in the popularity of the Queen and Monarchy, but somehow the Royal Family have steadied the ship. But now with King Charles, that level of affection is nowhere near as strong. With the Harry and Meghan story on top of the Prince Andrew scandal we can finally see the Royal Family in a different light. It is still a step too far for politicians to talk about Britain as a Republic. I never raised it as a priority but would always tell people my opinion when asked. I feel as part of a bigger plan to modernise our country, through abolition of the House of Lords, Regional Government, a constitution for for the 21st Century a new settlement with the monarch should be drawn up.
What is the point of Sunak.
We know we got rid of Johnson and the Truss experiment was a disaster for the country and Tories – an experiment that we will pay for over the coming years. But Sunak arrived into the role of PM having been rejected by his own party when they had the chance and still polls lowly in the internal Tory party. He has made a very quiet start. But after this disastrous year for Tory PMs that may be a sensible thing to do. Perhaps Brits are ready for a little bit of boring? This piece by Henry Hill may help? What does he want for Britain. Don’t get conned by his gentle demeanour. He is an out of touch hard right tory. Just because his party call him a socialist and hate him – don’t be fooled!
What are your hopes and dreams for 2023
Given that 2022 was such a disaster there is a feeling that “Thing Can Only Get Better”. From affording to paying your heating bill, to just getting public transport to work for your daily commute or getting a date for a long awaited NHS operation – what is top of your wish list for 2023?