Monday, 11th July, 2022

[Day 847]

The heatwave continues today and there are warnings across the country that people should take the necessary steps to protect themselves. I think it is fair to say that Meg and I have not been unduly stressed by the heat so far but we are aware that as one ages, the body’s ability to cope with extreme heat diminishes. So we are taking the necessary steps to protect ourselves by not exposing ourelves to too much sun and keeping ourselves hydrated during the day. So we decided to take the car to collect our daily newspaper and then went off to the park by car. Having parked the car, we made for our usual set of benches but deliberately chose a seat that was in the shade rather than being in the full blast of the midday sun. We drank our coffee and ate our pieces of fruit and then made for home relatively early. We cooked ourselves our midday meal a little early because we knew that our chiropodist was due to pay us a visit in the early afternoon. Just after she had left and we had organised her fee payment over the internet we experienced a power cut. This only lasted for five minutes or so but there are always some appliances that need resetting after a power cut such as our bedside radio so this is one job for later.

Today is going to be quite an important day politically as the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs will choose a new executive committee today and will then determine the timetable for the election of a new party leader. The number of declared candidates stands at 11 at the moment and if Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, decides to stand then this will make 12. However, it seems to be a racing certainty that the 1922 committee will increase the number of MPs who have to sign the nomination papers for a candidate. At the moment, I believe this is 8 but it will probably be increased substantially to at least 20 and perhaps as many as 30. This will have the effect of cutting the number of candidates at a stroke as many will fail to attract enough signatures to stand. We expect the conditions for the election of a new leader to be announced some this evening but in any case, the Tory High Command, if I can put it that way, are determined to reduce the number of candidates to just two before parliament adjourns in about 10 days time. If one candidate does not withdraw (as happened when Andrea Leadsom withdraw from challenging Theresa May as she was so far behind) then the two candidates will be put forward to the Tory Party in the country and their votes will determine the outcome. There is a slight possibility that this last step might be truncated in view of the very special circumstances this time around and the fact that Boris Johnson is still the Prime Minister despite the wishes of most of the parliamentary Conservative party) but we shall have to wait and see. In any case, I am not sure that issues like this should be determined by members of the political parties in the wider country as this gave us Corbyn (on the left) and Johnson (on the right) and has the effect of pulling the parliamentary parties towards the extremes of left or right.

As we have mentioned in previous blogs, the issue of tax is tearing the Tory party apart at the moment. Most of the candidates (practically all of whom are from the right of the party) are in favour of tax reductions or reversing the rise in tax and NI contributions that the Johnson government had put in place to fund, inter alia, the costs of social care which is not a trivial problem. One the one hand, many older (and Conservative) voters are having to fund the entire cost of social care themselves by selling their houses and the arguments as to who will fund the social care costs of individuals who are ‘bed blocking’ within the NHS still needs to be resolved. If we have another wave of the COVID virus and already it is the case that hospital admissions are increasing, then in the autumn all of these pressure will become acute again. At the height of the pandemic, the care home owners were asked by the government to increase the supply of places available in the system to ensure that the acute wards could be cleared to make space for the wave of COVID cases. The government agreed some special payments to the bosses of the care home systems (dominated by a few large off-shore firms) who promptly took the money, paid themselves a massive bonus and most of the money disappeared into off shore tax havens and was not spent, as it should have been, on making that the care homes could hire enough staff and equip them with PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) upon which the lives of the caring staff may well depend.