We are governed by a grim bunch of numpties, a whole wheelbarrow full of them. It is hard to think of a less competent government in Britain in the last 300 years – and we have had plenty of awful ones.
We’ll each have our own list of least favourites – mine is Lord Liverpool’s. But this lot! A Tory party that completely lives up to its original 17th century definition of being no better than a bunch of unwashed pirates sheltering on Tory Island off the coast of Donegal and raiding any ship that passed.
We are unlucky enough to be living in an age that requires calm, analytical thinking about colossal challenges: scientific, economic, democratic, cultural and political. All of them require government based on principles of kindness, compassion, global inclusion and decisiveness. Instead we have a country – by no means an exception – mired in irrational national vanity and impervious to inspiration.
Government is supported by a lame and unimaginative bureaucracy, the result of fifty (perhaps a hundred and fifty) years of educational inadequacy that has largely mirrored the idiocy of ministers with ill-drafted legislation, badly costed programmes and plainly holed policy options.
We have a failing government in which banal and brutish rhetoric is matched by vindictive and unworkable legislation.
Cabinet Secretary Simon Case’s verdict on Johnson’s regime – “I’ve never seen a bunch of people less well-equipped to run a country” – is true of every government since the late and rightly lamented Alistair Darling left office; the last sensible person in charge of the Treasury.
All the Prime Ministers in my life-time (69 years) have been undesirable, though I can forgive Macmillan, Wilson, Heath and Callaghan more than I can those since 1980 – sorry, Blair, you proved to be authoritarian by inclination, far too comfy with the Bush II/Rumsfeld/Cheney gang, and you even sold off the Post Office so that it is now too expensive for most people to send Christmas cards.
As for the last six – and their deputies – if any of them had been football managers, their teams would have been relegated in every one of the last 15 seasons. The league would have to invent a new division for the irredeemably dismal.
That’s my offering of custard pies to the lot of them in panto season but what do I want instead in 2024, alongside the removal of Putin, Xi, Orban, Erdoyan, Netanyahu, Sunak, Wilders, le Pen and Trump from public life?
The answer is a political system that puts care for the individual first on its set of measurements of success – not just in institutional terms (good hospitals and social services, non-punitive welfare regulations and exam systems that don’t make every teenager’s life a stressed-out misery) but as a basic philosophy.
The first rule of government is to provide as best it can the safety, well-being and reasonable prosperity of all who live in its territory.
The second rule is to work hard at helping the global governance system deliver the same for everyone else.
As a species we have been bedevilled by our inability to evolve away from the animal instinct not to get on with the neighbours. We love our tribes and resist and resent others at almost every level. Sadly, the world and society cannot operate beneficially on tribalism.
Those of exclusivist thinking regard human rights as only applying to themselves and their friends: their tribe. Such rights, though, only function when they are universally adhered to. They are there to protect individuals from over-reaching governments and, at the moment, most governments are either over-reaching or want to be.
The only reasons to demand forcefully that kindness, freedom, democracy, family life, peace and individual respect should be set down as rights is because governments continually act in ways that undermine all of those things.
The current British regime is being exhorted by its fundamentalists to remove rights from a whole index of the population: those who are non-English, poor, out of work, vulnerable, desperate, homeless and (worst of all in its lexicon) those coming from the rest of the European land mass.
I am not sure I have much faith in the man currently leading the opposition either. I am with John Mortimer’s splendid Rumpole in never trusting prosecutors and Keir Starmer is a prosecutor to his finger tips.
He is so worried about challenging the status quo (represented in Rumpole by Judge ‘Common Sense’ Bullingham and ‘Soapy Sam’ Ballard) that he is prepared to propose almost no remedy that might upset the right-wing portion of the volatile electorate.
In fact there is only one thing that unites the electorates of all free democracies at the moment and that it is distrust of those in established governments. If you are going to be a good leader you have to mean it when you say you will change bad and cruel management.
It is time to dump this barrow of Tory numpties onto the compost heap. Can we please find a new crop of politicians to replant; ones who are able to make the garden harmonious. There are some in all parties but I won’t scupper their chances by naming them.
A dull, competent, wise and caring government is all most of us ask for. Governments are best when life is good enough that we don’t notice them.