DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Flailing Tories must find their purpose after another depressing week for the Conservative Party
It barely needs saying, but this has been another depressing week for the Conservative Party.
More catastrophic economic news, more policy bloopers, more self-inflicted wounds… all conveying a distinct impression that the regime is running out of both ideas and steam.
True, the Bank of England’s ineptitude in controlling inflation is entirely to blame for the brutal hike in interest rates which will cause financial pain for millions, including homebuyers and struggling businesses.
Unfortunately, the incompetents in Threadneedle Street will not feel the public’s rage; squarely in their crosshairs will be the occupants of Downing Street.
With the Bank independent, there is little the Government can do in the short term to rein in inflation. Still, it’s a feather in the Chancellor’s cap that he has persuaded mortgage lenders to do more to assist homeowners in trouble with repayments.
Convincing the public the Tories deserve another term in office will be immensely difficult after a string of scandals and turmoil
He will also tell supermarkets and energy firms to bring prices down as quickly as possible to ease the crippling cost of living.
Yet while welcome, this is tinkering around the edges. And mere tinkering will not win the Tories a fresh term in power.
As the clock ticks down to the next election, there’s no doubt the party is in urgent need of a reset. That begins with asking itself hard questions. What does it hope to achieve? What are its values? In short, what is its political purpose?
If the Tories believe in property ownership, they must ignore the Nimbys and build more homes. If they are genuine about energy security, they should invest in nuclear and start fracking. If they are the champions of aspiration, entrepreneurialism and growth, why do we groan under the highest tax burden since the 1940s?
And if the Government truly believes in Brexit, it should ruthlessly exploit the enormous opportunities. Yet it couldn’t even send a minister on to the BBC to defend it.
Convincing the public the Tories deserve another term in office will be immensely difficult after a string of scandals and turmoil. But if the economy bounces back and the small boats are stopped, all is to play for.
Labour will soon have to set out its own detailed policies, instead of just carping about the Government’s. Voters may quickly realise that Sir Keir Starmer is just hot air.
After the choppy waters of the Johnson and Truss premierships, Mr Sunak may not want to rock the boat. But as things stand, the boat is already capsizing.
High Street heroes
The Treasury disdainfully dismisses calls to reverse the damaging ‘tourist tax’ by claiming it would benefit only fabulously wealthy foreigners and luxury stores.
Yet by glibly advancing that argument, officials miss the point completely.
If restoring VAT-free shopping for overseas visitors was simply about expensive handbags, why are countless High Street giants clamouring for it? It’s because they know anything that attracts high-spending visitors here ultimately boosts business in every sector and region of the UK.
Scrapping this ill-judged tax would not in itself be a panacea to Britain’s stuttering economy. But it would at least give it an energising shot in the arm.
Bitter pill to swallow
Junior doctors have announced they will stage a five-day strike next month in protest over pay – the longest in NHS history.
This militancy by the Marxists at the BMA, demanding an unaffordable and unfeasible 49 per cent salary rise, is simply reckless. Patients will certainly suffer. The thought of doctors behaving like postal workers or train drivers will horrify people – including, we are sure, many doctors.
A delayed letter or train is annoying. A delayed operation or emergency care can be a matter of life or death.
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