The term “Cost of Living Crisis” has become commonplace. It’s very real. There are NHS nurses who are finding an increasing portion of their salary is eaten up by fuel costs; their wages have not kept pace. There are teachers who face similar concerns when going to teach our children.
Energy is just about everything. Unless this is addressed, it’s difficult to control costs and maintain living standards.
So far, it seems that this government is only capable of stealing one or two ideas from Labour - eg the Windfall Tax - and then trying to distract everyone by picking a fight with the European Union about Northern Ireland or by sending asylum seekers to Rwanda.
The Conservative Party has an energy crisis too. They are simply out of ideas.
They’ve been in power since 2010. In Peterborough, they’ve been there for two decades. What’s the point? Why are they there? What do they do for us as a city? How do they make things better?
When questioned on these points, they resort to tired old attacks on Labour, as if covering the entire political sphere with a bucket of bile achieves anything. It does not.
All it does is create an increasing sense of disenchantment with democracy’s ability to solve real problems. And then what happens?
What we do today plants seeds for tomorrow. Inflation and stagnant wages are widening divides in society.
There was a compact between government and society: people were expected to pay their taxes and play by the rules; in exchange, the government would create conditions for progress.
The most important form of progress is this: that one’s children have the opportunity for a better life than their parents. The present crisis shows us the compact is broken.
The government is unable to do much of anything except try to divert attention; Boris Johnson has shown signs of ignoring reality altogether and making proclamations that nothing will move him.
However, the distractions have consequences too. There could be a full-blown trade war with the European Union unless there is a change of heart regarding Northern Ireland and this is the last thing we need.
No matter what trade deals we strike with New Zealand or Australia, we will always find it easier to trade with our neighbours. Geography still matters. If someone in government is cynically calculating that they can use a trade war to blame our present woes on someone else, I would remind them that it’s not patriotic to drive your own country into a ditch just to stay in power.
Furthermore, illusions come undone. Cracks start to form. The Conservatives’ grip is starting to loosen, even here in Peterborough. They have hitherto avoided consequences; they may be at the beginning of facing them. This event could presage positive change for us all.