Home News The Great British Government Circus – Gwynne Dyer

The Great British Government Circus – Gwynne Dyer

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The Great British Government Circus – Gwynne Dyer

October 18, 2022 12:03 pm

Italy is getting nervous. The Conservative Party of the United Kingdom (the so-called tory) expressed four premieres in just six years. Italy still holds the lead in the long run – a new government every thirteen months since 1945 – but the UK is now hot on its heels.

Even more impressive is the fact that the UK has had four chancellors of the exchequer (finance ministers) in the past four months. The country, and in particular the Conservative Party, now resemble a circus wagon in which clowns, locked in too narrow a space, continue to fall, to quarrel, to set off fireworks for no reason, to get back on board, and to start all over again.

The current Tory Prime Minister, Liz Truss, will likely fall by the end of the month due to the rebellion of her party MPs. Her first “mini-budget,” unveiled just last month, was successful in her faction, the conservative radical right, but her recklessness about uncovered tax cuts has horrified markets and banks. .

Straighten the course
Truss has avoided further slumps in the pound and interest rate hikes for the time being with the arrival of a new chancellor, Jeremy Hunt. He will effectively have the power to force her back to fiscal orthodoxy (by threatening to resign), and perhaps the state ship can be righted again. But for her this is probably an insufficient and belated move. Former Conservative leader William Hague says his political survival is “hanging by a thread”. There first minister Scotsman Nicola Sturgeon said Truss is “unfit to hold this office”. But getting rid of a prime minister who is clinging to her office is not easy, as Boris Johnson amply demonstrated last spring.

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On the morning of October 17, almost all of the changes Truss announced regarding tax cuts were canceled by his new chancellor and de facto head Jeremy Hunt. However, even if the markets seemed to have calmed down, they will not see the UK as a safe place to put their money in the coming years, and Truss has become “useless”, in the words of a former Conservative minister.

But what can the Tories do about it? If they organized elections now, they would be politically annihilated. Furthermore, the internal rule of the party currently prohibits taking the trust of the leader (and therefore also of the first minister) before a year has passed since her taking office.

This absurd situation will probably end at some point, because the economic “decline” is only relative

Of course, the Conservative party could change its rules if the majority of its deputies wanted to. But conservatives have few plausible alternative candidates and very few who would accept leadership in such catastrophic circumstances.

This show certainly offers some innocent fun to those who like to see once powerful and dignified entities perform in serial style falls. However, beyond the chaos and the schadenfreude (the enjoyment of the misfortunes of others) a curious political phenomenon is taking place: a once serious party has completely lost its mind.

Two examples of distorted perception
Everything that has happened politically in the UK since 2016, from the self-mutilation of Brexit to the British version of Mao’s “great leap forward” declined by the Tories of Liz Truss, is animated by the unspoken belief that the country has come to an end, and that only radical and risky methods can reverse the trend. I owe this observation to Patrick Cockburn, one of Britain’s sharpest journalists, who proposes Russia as another example of the same phenomenon.

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Of course, the two cases present differences. Russia’s great bet to reverse its geopolitical and strategic decline is expressed in military aggression. This is a typical initial response when there is a perceived decrease in power due to the loss of an empire.

The UK is way ahead of Russia on this curve, having eliminated most of the militarist impulses from its system with failed military campaigns against Egypt and some former colonies in the 1950s and 1960s. What is happening in the country today is an equally desperate, but less violent, attempt to reverse a long period of relative economic decline, moving from the rank of the world‘s second-largest economy in 1950 to today’s sixth (after India).


The simplest nationalists see it as a failure of the whole country. Brexit was the first radical but foolish attempt to reverse this perceived decline. Truss’s low-tax, high-debt panacea was a further attempt.

This absurd situation will probably end at some point, because the economic “decline” is only relative. The UK has lost ground to some “developing” countries – which are in a high growth phase of their economic path – and has made some serious internal mistakes, but it is still a rich country, much richer than it is. it wasn’t fifty years ago.

This is a phenomenon that affects only countries with an exaggerated view of their importance, generally because they were once great powers or at least possessed vast colonial empires. Britain is particularly affected, but that too will pass.

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In the meantime, let the clowns in!

(Translation by Federico Ferrone)

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