Hello again from the little read and much hated Social Review website!
You would be forgiven if you thought Boris Johnson would attend Conservative Party Conference this week as an embattled Prime Minister, facing a nation in the midst of a number of simultaneous crises. The cost of living crisis alone would be a grave enough issue without the government compounding it with a £1000 a year cut to Universal Credit and national insurance rise. There is a whiff of Jim Callaghan’s Winter of Discontent to procedures, though it’s hard to believe the Labour party would have seen articles exploring the idea that the media, rather than the government, could actually be to blame for the dead going unburied.
But we needn’t worry, multiple cabinet ministers have declared that there are currently no fuel shortages. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps called them a “Manufactured situation created by the road haulage association”. The government’s solution to this supposedly imagined crisis? Drafting in the army, not to break up the fights on forecourts, but to drive fuel tankers. It’s a strategy the government clearly sees as key to solving the HGV driver shortage with paramedics and firefighters both being urged to change careers under a plan named “Peter to pay Paul”.
The fact that Conservative Party Conference itself could be hampered by labour shortages will be presented as a good thing by many Tories. The logic being that the UK is now no longer reliant on low wage migrant workers, meaning any labour shortage is simply proof positive of the success of Brexit. Curiously, despite the government’s newfound “unchained interventionism”, any tangible solutions to solve labour shortages, such as increasing the minimum wage, have yet to be considered.
Yet Boris Johnson will have a spring in his step, not just because he is able to brush off the myriad crises facing the country as someone else’s problem, but because he goes into his party’s conference in his strongest position since becoming Prime Minister. After a reshuffle that was seen as a show of strength and unbothered by the opposition, Boris Johnson has said the Tories “Must take big, bold decisions”.
Away from the Conservatives’ foray into Manchester, around 15 million households will face dramatic increases in their energy bills as gas prices soar. This is where reality risks catching up with the Prime Minister – it is all very well and good to talk about what must be done, but if the public is greeted by images of a cheery Tory party lavishing on decadence as they struggle to choose between food and heating, it’s hard to believe the mood will continue to be quite so forgiven.
Through all of this and more, The Social Review will be with you. Enjoy this month of truly spooky ghouls!
The Social Review’s Monthly Catch Up
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Progressives Must Face Up To The Brutal Reality Of Globalisation by Rabbil Sikdar