“O Bachchoo, why not help the destitute
— Add to your karma, that’s beyond dispute.
We hear the loud cries of both Faith and Hope
The voice of Charity is somehow mute…”
— From OK Jahn Ali, by Bachchoo
Mourning the death of Queen Elizabeth II, events and political decisions have come to a halt. Apart from tributes to the Queen and gathering to listen to the platitudinous and predictable speeches from King Charles III who sincerely vows to carry on in the noble traditions of his gentle mother, the House of Commons and the House of Lords have been at a standstill. Business has to wait.
Undoubtedly, the new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, while performing the duties of a dutiful mourning leader of government, has been thinking about and contemplating the solutions to the massive problems and dilemmas that she has inherited from the Boris Johnson government.
The first huge problem she will face as the new occupant of 10 Downing Street is what to do with the horrible kitsch wallpaper, designed by someone called Lulu Little that has been plastered on the walls of the Prime Minister’s residential space at No. 10 and in the connected top flat of No. 11 Downing Street. This wallpaper was, if you remember, gentle reader, commissioned by Mrs BoJo, otherwise known as Carrie Antoinette, who articulated her contempt for the taste of the previous PM, Theresa May, calling it “John Lewis crap”, or words to that effect.
(Carrie Antoinette actually “let them eat cake” at BoJo’s birthday in an illegal gathering in Downing Street at the occasion labelled “Partygate”!).
Forgive me, gentle reader, I am absolutely aware that though this may occupy a sector of Liz Truss’s intellect, for what that may be, she has very many more pressing problems to address. Let me count the frays. Where shall I start?
There is the cost-of-living-crisis which means, in the statistical calculation of the media, that 40 per cent of the population of Britain will feel the pinch of poverty immediately and in the months to come.
Then there is the price-of-energy crisis, which will affect the poor who won’t be able to simultaneously afford food and heating their homes all through the coming winter. Liz and her chamcha chancellor of the exchequer, Kwasi Kwarteng, of Ghanian parentage but rich enough to go to school in Eton and then to Cambridge, have announced that they will “cap” the price of energy to households at something in excess of £2,500 a year. This is double the price that most people pay and this “cap” will cost the UK Treasury £100 billion, which Ms Truss and her chamcha KK will borrow, adding to the national debt which future years and generations will have to bear.
Their argument, and this seems to be the answer to everything that Liz and chamchoo have proposed, is that they will cut taxes and that will stimulate growth in the economy and that will tackle the debt. As we used to say in the Peeping Tom’s Society of Poona (PTSP) — “dekha jayega” — roughly translated as “we shall see”.
Right! I’ve only hit on one of poor Liz’s problematic inheritances. There’s the absolute collapse of the National Health Service, the free medical treatment to which every citizen has been entitled since the 1945 Labour government of Clement Attlee brought it in after the Second World War. It’s something generations of the British rely upon and its survival and progress has to be embraced and guaranteed by any party wishing to win an election. The NHS is today, in the way of true situational allegory, waiting to be admitted to A&E — Accident and Emergency — hanging about, perhaps fatally, for hours in an ambulance at the gates of an over-populated hospital with a shortage of 50,000 nurses and 10,000 doctors, to be admitted and not given a bed.
Will cutting taxes to boost the economy solve that? Discuss!
Then there is the Northern Ireland Protocol. This part of the UK doesn’t have a functioning government because the Protestant Party, the DUP, who have the second largest elected representation in the Northern Ireland parliament, refuses to enter it until the Westminster government reneges on and reverses the part of the international treaty that BoJo signed called the Northern Ireland Protocol. I won’t bore you with the details but Suella Braverman, now the home secretary (under Liz-how-long-will-she-last?), was the attorney-general under BoJo and said she would defy international law and the European Union’s justifiable wrath to reverse the agreement her principal signed. Perhaps “principle” is not the appropriate word in this context. (You idiot, the spelling is different! — Ed)
And then there is Rwanda — to which place the previous home secretary Priti “Clueless” and the present one Suella Cowardman want to send asylum seekers who come across the English Channel in risky boats to seek refuge and a new life. The prevalent opinion, even among right-wing commentators, is that this policy is legally doomed as even the British courts will be presented with evidence that the refugees sent to Rwanda are being coerced into military formations and sent to fight in neighbouring African countries as Rwanda’s government has undertaken the role of ideological watchfulness.
So that’s a dead duck. My advice to Liz, in the face of these dilemmas and a myriad more, is forget all that and simply concentrate on getting rid of the Lulu Little kitsch (kitsch defined as a lot of effort without any artistic vision.)