Saturday, 15th October, 2022

[Day 943]

It was a most beautiful autumn day today so Meg and I had no hesitation making for the park as soon as we had collected our newspaper. On our way down, we spotted Seasoned World Traveller also making for the park so we decided to alter our routine a little. We parked our car on the lower car park nearest to the park cafe and when we went in search of our friends, we found the two of them enjoying the beautiful autumn weather outside the park café. Needless to say, we were full of excitement about the political news of the last twenty four hours. For once, we shared the same view that Liz Truss had quite probably ‘blown it’ as conservative Prime Minister and her remaining period of office may well be measured in days. So the bar of chocolate which is our wager for the period of time that Liz Truss can remain in office is increasingly starting to look like a 50:50 bet. After we had had a fairly full discussion, Meg and I then made for for home so that we could start to prepare a lunch of mince and onions.

Saturday afternoons are always a little attenuated because it is part of our routine that we go to church in the late afternoon. But today is the start of the Rugby (League) World Cup being played in England so we thought we would tune in and watch one of the first matches in the competition. Incidentally, the competition is going to be interesting for viewers as the competiton will be a triple hander as there are male, female and wheelchair competitions being held in the same tournament. The game this afternoon is between Samoa (one of the pre-match favourites) and England and I am impressed by how fast and free flowing the game is compared with the Rugby Union counterpart. In the latter, a lot of time is spent scrummaging with scrums often collapsing and having to be reset, not to mention the lineouts when the ball goes out of touch. So not having watched Rugby League very much, I have quite grown into the game that I saw this afternoon.

We are in the most interesting political situation as of this morning. The new Chancellor of the Exchequeur, Jeremy Hunt, was interviewd on Radio 4 and gave a calm and reassuring performance. He indicated that two major errors had been made by the previous Chancellor, namely offering tax handouts to the already extremely wealthy on the one hand and not making the mini-budget available to the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) for scrutiny on the other. Of course, it is now widely appreciated that Jeremy Hunt is in an extremely powerful position as he can go ahead and dismantle some of the more noxious parts of the mini-budget within the next week or so. Liz Truss is not in a position to sack her newly appointed Chancellor in his first two weeks so he can, in effect, do whatever he thinks is sensible and which will reassure the markets. He has made a start by indicating that the public sector will have its budgets restrained (have we heard that before?) and that some of the planned income tax cuts may not go ahead and there may well be tax increases as well. What this means, politically, is the entire strategy upon which Liz Truss campaigned and was elected is now being comprehensively dismantled. For this reason, serious political commentators are now suggesting that Liz Truss is not only a ‘busted flush’ but also the mandate that political parties have with the electorate is well and truly broken and therefore there is a very strong case politically, if not constitutionally, for there to be a General Election. The only way for this to happen is for Liz Truss to resign and be replaced by a successor ‘by acclamation’ or for a vote of confidence to be lost in the House of Commons which is possible but not as likely. There are two particular time events in the next day or so. One of these is to see what the reactions (and opinion polls) reveal when the Sunday newspapers are published tomorrow. This might be enough to persuade several of the famed ‘men in suits’ to advance upon Liz Truss and tell her that the game is up. Probably, more crucial even than this, is the reaction of the markets when they reopen on Monday morning. I suspect that Jeremy Hunt has said enough and given enough signals to calm the markets which will give Liz Truss a few days of respite but it will not save her.

As a footnote to today’s Rugby League World Cup news, as I blog England are leading Samoa by 60 points to 6 and it looks, as though in the second half, the Samoans have just about given up the ghost. Needless to say, the commentators are going ecstatic about the England performance but one can well and truly understand why this is so given the scoreline.