The Guardian’s Perspective on Boris Johnson’s Britain: Crisis to Crisis | Editorial
IIf the Tory party could be summed up in one word, it would be power. The Conservatives have dominated the 19th, 20th and – until now – 21st centuries. Their most successful leaders anticipated the national mood and shaped their party to capitalize on it. Boris Johnson won the last election betting the right way on Brexit. But there is a fundamental disagreement within the Conservative Party over what Britain’s future economy should look like outside the EU. This question urgently needs an answer, especially as the country looks beyond the pandemic.
Over the next six months Britain will almost certainly face a cost of living crisis. High inflation can go even higher before it ebbs. Mr Johnson denies this problem as people feel cold and hungry in their homes. Prices are being pushed up by global energy costs, set by cartels such as OPEC or gas producers such as Russia. However, the price at which electricity and gas is supplied to UK businesses and households could be capped and a one-off tax on oil companies used to reimburse suppliers. State intervention could help ordinary households – but ministers say it would be costs of “this country’s reputation as a hub for international capital and investment”.
The government could also sustainably reduce long-term bills by insulating homes. A bold move would be to rethink the electricity market so that gas no longer sets the price, and instead, as former government adviser Michael Grubb suggested, “Direct consumer access to cheaper, low-carbon electricity”. Yet nothing is done as the PM is surrounded by a growing bloc of anti-Green backbenchers determined to prevent a net zero transformation of the economy from taking place.
When the pandemic started, the competition watchdog has asked ministers for price-raising powers. Instead of being able to effectively sanction offenders, the regulator had to rely mainly on limit competition and consumer law. Many companies increase their prices because they can. Banks, home builders and the oil companies have all recorded windfall profits in recent months, while many voters have taken on debt. Despite all the rhetoric from a large governing faction in his party, Mr Johnson will not step in to help families in dire straits.
Britain is not experiencing an unemployment crisis but a participation crisis. There are a million fewer workers than there would have been if the previous trend of more people entering the workforce had continued. Part of this is due to Brexit, but it is mainly because workers, especially the lowest paid, give up – unable to access the jobs they want due to inadequate transport or a lack of childcare. affordable children. Collecting dust on government shelves is a report with a host of sensible suggestions for dealing with this purulent problem.
Mr Johnson appears unable to resolve the tensions he created to win the last election so convincingly. He seems indifferent to the fact that people cannot afford the basics of life. A decade of Conservative rule has reduced the infrastructure of people’s lives so that it can barely support them. Instead of solutions, Britain must endure the striped populism of Jacob Rees-Mogg, who disguises his agenda to keep wealth untaxed with a call for a tax cut to workers, a no-nonsense blow to his rival of cabinet Rishi Sunak. A tax hike that does not contribute to a cost of living crisis would equalize capital gains with income tax. But no one in Cabinet would agitate for it. Mr Johnson sold voters the idea that he was going to create a high-wage economy by using the market’s capacity to eliminate inefficiency. But he didn’t deliver. Meanwhile, the country is teetering from crisis to crisis with no plans to address the root cause of our problems.