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Although the results of the Conservative Party leadership contest were not announced until Monday, September 5, 2022, it was widely believed that Liz Truss would emerge the victor.

So, on Sunday, September 4, the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg interviewed Truss on her morning current events show.

It was as much as a debut for Truss as it was for Kuenssberg. Although Kuenssberg has been on our television screens for several years, it was the first time in this format.

No longer much of a viewer of the regular BBC output outside of BBC Parliament, I only watched a short clip that Guido Fawkes posted:

Truss was polite and constructive. She explained that her policies were based on growth rather than redistribution:

Guido’s post says, in part (emphases his):

The goal of Liz Truss’s government should be to provide the framework for economic growth, growth that provides high paying jobs, not optimises universal credit. The Treasury has been trapped in the logic of Gordon Brown for too long, tinkering with taxes and benefits instead of turbo-charging the economy. We can’t tax or redistribute our way to prosperity, Liz Truss knows this and has the drive to reform government policy. It is a positive, optimistic agenda on which she needs to move fast, starting this week…

Kuenssberg acted like the cool girl from school. (How did her hair grow so much in such a short space of time, one wonders.) She asked Truss:

You will come and see us again, won’t you?

A Telegraph review of the new show mentioned that Kuenssberg couldn’t interview Truss in detail because she had to move on to an interview with Ukraine’s Olena Zelenska (emphases in purple mine):

One hopes … that the busy format can be slimmed down when the need arises, to allow for longer-form interviews and tougher interrogation. Kuenssberg did not, for example, have time to ask Truss about crime, immigration or education, because the programme also had to fit in an interview with Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska (unfortunately, interviews conducted via a translator rarely make for riveting TV), fleeting discussions of Nasa’s Artemis launch and the Taylor Hawkins tribute concert, plus some banter with the panel.

It is just like the BBC to give priority to foreign nations over our own citizens’ needs and concerns.

Another mistake might be the addition of notional comic Joe Lycett, who insulted the then-future Prime Minister and made the Mail‘s front page on Monday:

The British public received more insight from Mark Littlewood, the director of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA). Littlewood (H/T to Guido Fawkes) was up at Oxford with Truss in the early 1990s and said she would be:

the most radical British Prime Minister in over a century.

Excerpts from Littlewood’s article for The Sunday Telegraph follow:

The first myth that needs to be laid to the rest is that Liz Truss is some sort of wily, calculating chameleon who changes her political colours, depending on prevailing political circumstances, to suit her own narrow ends.

I first met Liz Truss over twenty-five years ago at Oxford University and have detected no shift in her underlying political philosophy in that time. She has not jumped from left to right or from radical to reactionary – she is, and has always been, a market liberal with a deep suspicion of entrenched, vested interests. She instinctively believes that the state has a greater propensity to do harm than to do good.

How then to reconcile her record as a pro-EU, Liberal Democrat at university with her Tory policy platform today? You only need to appreciate how politics have changed so markedly since the mid-1990s to understand that while the world itself might not be very consistent, Liz Truss very much is

I would argue that Liz Truss’s changing position on the EU reflects a consistent application of her underlying principles to changing circumstances. To go right back to the 1990s, the single market had just come into being. On the face of it, the European project was on an exciting, liberalising trajectory. It was about removing barriers erected by nation states in order to facilitate trade and free exchange. Over many years – and only incrementally – did the EU’s obsession with regulatory conformity oblige free market liberals to seriously question whether the European Union was now more of a socialist than a liberal enterprise

Although she was hostile to the EU’s heavy-handed intervention, she also recognised that many of the problems afflicting Britain were homegrown. Most of the policy reforms she craved could be carried out whether or not we were a member of the European Union.

In wishing to move Britain in a liberalising, more market-orientated direction, Liz Truss would have judged Brussels to have been bad, but probably Whitehall to be worse

Her approach to date on the energy crisis is a classic example of this. Whilst politicians of all stripes seem to want the government to take even more action to fix the price of energy, Truss’s starting position would be to allow the price mechanism to operate freely and then consider how one might mitigate the effects. She would rather offset the soaring price of utility bills through meaningful tax cuts, than appoint a central committee to pronounce on the exact price we should all be paying per kilowatt hour.

But it’s not merely the underlying instincts of Liz Truss that has led so many free marketeers to get excited about her upcoming premiership. We can also expect her to act decisively. This doesn’t mean she is a dogmatic individual although, for sure, she is guided by an underlying ideology in a way our last three Conservative Prime Ministers have not been …

I suspect we are about to bear witness to the most radical British Prime Minister in over a century.

We can expect to see a whirlwind of activity and announcements from the very first minutes of her entering Downing Street. Given the speed she is going to have to operate at, there inevitably will be missteps. But the overall direction of travel in the Truss administration will be crystal clear – to move power and money away from the state bureaucracy and into the hands of ordinary men and women.

It remains to be seen exactly how far she can move Britain in that direction in the limited time she has available to her, but I can’t wait to find out.

The Sunday Telegraph granted Truss an editorial that day which bear out what Littlewood wrote:

My plan for growth is built on Conservative ideas: tax cuts, supply-side reform and deregulation. I will grasp the nettle on the ambitious reforms needed to get our economy growing, including working with local communities to create low-tax, opportunity-rich investment zones and make Britain the home of innovation and start-ups …

We will break with the same old tax and spend approach by focusing on growth and investment. The heaviest tax burden in 70 years cannot go on. We will change the Treasury investment rules to drive opportunity across every part of our United Kingdom. As Prime Minister, I will terminate the technocratic excesses that have crept into government and our economy.

I will be on the side of the people who drive Britain forward: from our hard-working taxpayers to our dynamic businesses and the self-employed. In the same spirit, I will take on whatever holds us back.

Too often, people face a morass of bureaucracy to get things done. It cannot be right that the last reservoir or new nuclear power station was over a quarter of a century ago. It’s time to get Britain building and liberate our enterprising spirit.

At this critical moment, we can shape the future of our economy through the decisions we make. I am prepared to be bold in order to transform our economy into the powerhouse I know it can be. That is how we will deliver a better future for the British people and ensure together that our best days lie ahead.

On the morning of Monday, September 5, Red Wall MP Lee Anderson (see parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5) reacted to Laura Kuenssberg’s Sunday show.

Guido reported:

Speaking to Mike Graham on TalkTV this morning, he’s just called for the whole BBC to be shipped off to a desert island, because “they do not represent what this country wants.”

One minute before the leadership contest results were announced, Guido tweeted about an extravagant bet he made on a Truss victory:

Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of Conservative backbench MPs, announced the result promptly at 12:30 in the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre, not far from Parliament.

Guido could rest easy. Truss won and would become our new Prime Minister:

Sir Graham read out the results from the Party members’ ballots in full. Rishi Sunak did better than most pundits and pollsters predicted.

We also discovered the true number of Conservative Party members, heretofore unknown:

Rishi Sunak received 60,399 votes (42.4%)

Liz Truss received 81,326 votes (57.1%)

There were 172,437 eligible electors. Turnout was 82.6%.

There were 654 rejected ballots – probably mostly write ins for Boris. Which means 142,379 votes were returned.

58,378 electors voted by post and 84,001 electors voted online.

Before the result was announced, Conservative Home‘s Paul Goodman tweeted his expecations based on conversations with Party MPs and activists:

Guido agreed.

He found that Opinium was the most accurate polling company in the contest:

Look how far off the mark Conservative Home was.

Opinium readily acknowledged that doing party-specific polls were much more challenging than those from the general public:

Opinium has once again won the crown for most accurate poll during the Tory leadership election. After winning the same accolade at the 2019 election, Opinium were closest to the final result. They add the usual caveats that polling political parties is much trickier than the general public…

Truss and Sunak were seated next to each other as the votes were announced. Whe she got up to give her speech she rushed past Sunak without a glance or a handshake. Oh, well.

Her short speech didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know:

Guido has the video, in which she was emphatic about one thing:

I campaigned as a Conservative and I will govern as a Conservative.

She also paid tribute to Boris Johnson:

Guido reported that Boris quickly congratulated Truss and said that the two had met before the contest was over:

Boris has congratulated Liz Truss on a “decisive win” in the leadership race:

I know she has the right plan to tackle the cost of living crisis, unite our party and continue the great work of uniting and levelling up our country. Now is the time for all Conservatives to get behind her 100 per cent.

It’s not like Boris stayed neutral throughout the race. This morning the BBC’s Chris Mason reported that Liz visited Boris at Chequers to ask his advice on how to be PM. 

Rishi has tweeted, through obviously gritted teeth, “It’s right we now unite behind the new PM, Liz Truss, as she steers the country through difficult times.”

Meanwhile, Carrie took to Instagram to wish Liz and her family well, alongside a photo of her, Boris, Wilf and Romy stepping through the No. 10 door into Downing Street for the last time.

I expect Wilf and Romy won’t remember it but they’ve had an incredibly happy start to their lives growing up here.

Let’s hope the garish wallpaper didn’t leave a permanent imprint on their young minds.

Unfortunately for Truss and the Conservatives, the longstanding co-chairman of the Party, Ben Elliot, resigned that evening:

Ben Elliot is an entrepreneur, not an MP. He has incredible social connections and has raised a lot of money for the Conservatives.

Elliot is best known for his personal concierge subscription service which he started many years ago.

The Mail+‘s Glen Owen wrote:

Ben Elliot, a close ally of Boris Johnson, announced he was stepping down from the role – leaving Miss Truss with the headache of trying to find a powerful replacement.

Mr Elliot spearheaded the drive to amass a £56millon war chest in the run-up to the 2019 election, of which £23million was raised in the four weeks prior to polling day.

Controversially, Mr Elliot used donor clubs to generate funds – including the use of an ‘advisory board’ for £250,000-a-head contributors – which attracted allegations that he was deploying ‘cash-for-access’ techniques.

But it also allowed the party to comprehensively outgun Labour in the income stakes.

One of Mr Elliot’s friends said that ‘Ben’s own initiative and contacts’ had been responsible for more than one third of donor income.

The friend said:

He is going because he recognises that Liz will want the freedom to appoint her own chair, and wants to spend more time concentrating on his businesses.

Hmm.

Elliot thanked the groups he worked with in the Party, adding:

I would like to thank Boris Johnson for appointing me, and wish Liz Truss every success in leading our great country, particularly given the challenges of the winter ahead.

The article concludes with this:

Darren Mott, chief executive of the Conservative Party said: ‘The whole Conservative Party wants to thank Ben Elliot for his tireless service over the past three years. Without his incredible efforts, the 2019 landslide would not have been possible. We wish him all the best in his future endeavours.’

Moving on to Parliament, which resumed sitting on Monday afternoon, changes were afoot.

Boris loyalist Nadine Dorries’s Online Safety Bill was scheduled to be debated further that day, but was suddenly pulled from the Order Paper.

Mark Spencer, still in post at that point as Leader of the House, announced:

With permission, Mr Speaker, it may help if I inform the House that, following the election of the new leader of the Conservative party, the business managers have agreed that the Government will not move the Second Reading and other motions relating to the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill today to allow Ministers to consider the legislation further. The remainder of this week’s business is as I announced on 21 July.

That was one piece of good news, as it is draconian.

The other good news was that Home Secretary Priti Patel resigned that day, after giving her last Q&A session on Home Department progress over the summer. She had a lot to say but not much to report, which was typical of her performance since 2019:

I had such high hopes for her, but, between civil servants and lingering EU laws to which we are still subject, she couldn’t get anywhere, internationally with migration or domestically with policing.

Returning to Liz Truss, the Russians were not happy that she is now Prime Minister. One Russian broadcaster said:

Elizabeth Truss wants to achieve something entirely different — the end of the world.

Good. Truss is right over the target.

More flak came Truss’s way here in the UK from the usual suspects:

As for Boris, was he as bad a Prime Minister as all the Remainers said? No. Not at all.

Labour’s Gordon Brown is still our most unpopular PM of living memory:

Guido wrote:

The usual blowhards like Alastair Campbell and James O’Brien like to claim that Boris was the worst Prime Minister of all time. That’s not a view reflected by the public. According to data compiled by Britain Elects and published by the New Statesman, during his premiership Boris never reached the depths of unpopularity reached by most of his recent predecessors as PM. Tony Blair was more unpopular before he left office, Gordon Brown was far more unpopular during his tenure and Theresa May sunk lower in popular esteem than ever Boris did. Of recent PMs only David Cameron was less negatively perceived at his lowest point. Dave didn’t have the almost universal and unforgiving disdain of the europhile chattering classes against him though…

Tuesday, September 6, was a busy day and, unfortunately, too much for the Queen, who, as I write on Thursday, is gravely unwell at Balmoral.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker of the House of Commons, interrrupted the energy debate to make a brief announcement, asking for thoughts and good wishes for the Queen and her family at this time.

Tomorrow’s post will discuss Boris’s and Liz’s respective trips to Balmoral to meet with the Queen.

In the meantime, my prayers go to our monarch for her recovery and to the Royal Family.

This is the final instalment of my series on Boris Johnson’s downfall.

Those who missed them can read parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.

Also of interest are:

Developing news: how long can Boris last as PM? (July 5-6)

Boris stays as PM for now but stands down as Conservative leader: ‘When the herd moves, it moves’ (July 6-7)

This post discusses two groups of people who are still wild about Boris: British voters and the Ukrainians.

British voters

On June 11, 2022, one week after Boris survived a vote of confidence by his fellow Conservative MPs, The Observer — the Sunday edition of The Guardian — posted the results of a poll they commissioned.

The findings were surprising for a left-wing newspaper (emphases mine):

Boris Johnson makes a better prime minister than Keir Starmer would despite Partygate, the cost of living crisis and the confidence vote in Johnson held by his MPs, according to the latest Observer poll.

Granted, the results were close, but Boris managed to come out on top, with the Conservatives two points behind Labour:

The Opinium figures, which will raise further concerns within Labour over the party leader’s performance, shows that the prime minister has a two-point lead over his opponent. It also reveals that Starmer’s party holds a narrow two-point lead, compared with a three-point lead in the last poll a fortnight ago. Labour are on 36% of the vote, with the Tories up one point on 34%. The Lib Dems are on 13% with the Greens on 6% …

While 28% think Johnson would make the best prime minister, 26% opted for Starmer.

On June 13, the i paper‘s Hugo Gye posted a few pages from the book Moonshot, by Pfizer’s chairman Albert Bourla:

Two excerpts follow. These pertain to late 2020 and early 2021:

From my perspective, the UK was doing an exceptional job under tremendous pressure.

At that time, the UK was the only vaccinating so quickly that demand surpassed supply. As a result, we worked on a plan to meet the UK’s needs

Yet, in the UK, it was only the Conservatives and conservatives remembering Boris’s efforts during that time period:

On June 14, the Mail‘s Alex Brummer wrote a positive article about the British economy, explaining why things weren’t as bad as the media and pundits portray them:

So, yes, we face serious challenges. And yet I simply do not believe there is any justification for the gloom-laden interpretation by large sections of the broadcast media and fierce critics of Boris Johnson’s government.

These Cassandras peddle a diet of relentless financial woe as they carelessly claim that the nation is in recession or heading for one.

But closer inspection shows not only that things are nowhere near as bad as they claim, but that there are serious grounds for hope in certain sectors, too.

Brummer explored the possibilities of what could happen either way:

True, the UK economy lost momentum recently, shrinking by 0.3 pc in April.

But what no one has mentioned is that this was largely down to a statistical quirk, and respected City forecasters are still actually predicting a 3.2 pc expansion of the UK economy this year, followed by 0.9 pc in 2023.

The big danger is that the constant barrage from the doom merchants could begin to influence events and destroy the resilience of consumers and enterprise — resilience which is still delivering for this country.

What is more, with a change of tack in the Government’s approach, I believe the economy could be recharged.

Of course, the country will struggle if it is required to contend with inflation, rising interest rates and a mountainous tax burden all at the same time. If consumers and businesses are doubly squeezed by higher interest rates and higher taxes, household incomes will be devastated

Brummer disagreed with Rishi’s tax hikes:

The truth is that, with the nation close to full employment and the City of London and services — comprising more than 70 pc of national output — performing well, there was absolutely no need to urgently hike taxes, if at all.

Income tax, national insurance receipts, VAT and corporation tax receipts have all been flowing into the exchequer in record volumes. All that future rises will do is stymie spending and the willingness of companies to invest.

And the main reason for that fall in output of 0.3 pc in April? It is because the Government suddenly ended the NHS’s Test and Trace operations — which had grown into a formidable industry, employing tens of thousands of people — as the country emerged from the pandemic.

In fact, April saw activity in consumer services jump by 2.6 pc. In spite of the £100-a-tank of petrol, the £8-a-pint of best IPA and rocketing food prices, a recession — defined as two quarters of negative growth — is unlikely.

Brummer did support Rishi’s help to the neediest families:

Even if Rishi Sunak does not cut taxes, his £15 billion package of targeted support to help poorer households with the rising cost of living means incomes should now rise in the second and third quarter of the year. It is equal to nearly 2 pc of their earnings and will boost the country’s spending power.

There were more reasons not to believe the doom-mongers, who, as I write in early September, are getting shriller and shriller:

What the doom-mongers fail to tell you is that investment bankers Goldman Sachs recently pointed out that consumer services are ‘robust’ and Britain’s economy is 0.9 pc larger now than it was before the nation went into lockdown.

Economic activity in the crucial services sector, meanwhile, is 2.6 pc higher.

But it is not just the consumer activity — along with the £370 bn plus of pandemic savings in the current and savings accounts of households — propping up the economy.

New data just released shows that the drive towards the UK becoming a high-tech, high-value nation continues to make Britain prosper.

So far this year, the country has sucked in £12.4 bn of investment into the tech industry, the highest level of any country other than the United States.

And let no one blame Brexit:

As for the argument that Brexit has done for Britain, it is comprehensively rubbished by the City consultancy firm EY, which argues that, when it comes to financial services, ‘six years since the EU referendum, we can be confident that Brexit has not damaged the UK’s fundamental appeal’.

Since the financial and professional services are the biggest generator of income for HMRC, and the UK’s most successful export to the rest of the world, this should surely be a source of national pride rather than Remoaner carping.

Indeed, wherever you look, the excellence of Britain’s life sciences sector — as evidenced by the rapid development and distribution of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine during the pandemic — continues to shine

Ultimately, taxes do need to be cut:

But more needs to be done. And by that I mean Rishi Sunak must put an end to the tax hikes — or even reverse them

… he froze personal tax allowances until 2025-6, along with the thresholds for capital gains tax.

… this will provide additional revenues to the Government of about £20.5 bn a year.

Sunak also opted to raise corporation tax from 19 pc to a whopping 25 pc next year. And to help pay for the NHS and social care, every employee and employer in the country is now paying a 1.25 pc surcharge on national insurance.

Together, all these measures (before inclusion of the windfall tax on oil production) mean that Boris Johnson’s government is raising more tax from the British people and commerce than any UK government since the 1940s.

Such a position, given the precarious economic circumstances we face, is completely unsustainable. If the Johnson government wants to fight the next election with a healthy economy, taxes have to be cut with a decisive policy shift.

And if that happens, it could just be the magic pill for a Tory revival.

Meanwhile, Boris took a brief staycation in Cornwall while he helped campaign for the Conservative candidate in Neil ‘Tractor Porn’ Parish’s constituency for the by-election, which, unfortunately, the Liberal Democrats won.

The Mail reported on Boris’s schedule:

Boris Johnson has been pictured walking on a Cornish beach with his son Wilfred as he chose a staycation amid weeks of chaos at Britain’s airports for millions desperate for a post-pandemic foreign break.

The Prime Minister has been in the West Country campaigning as he tries to win the Tiverton and Honiton by-election for the Tories on June 23, but is squeezing in a short family holiday.

And after a flying visit to the Devon constituency he headed to Cornwall to launch his food strategy at the wheel of a tractor before relaxing on the award-winning Porthminster beach, St Ives.

Unfortunately, on Wednesday, June 15, Lord Geidt quit as Boris’s ethical adviser, which made all of his opponents question whether he should still be in office. This came a day after Geidt had appeared before a parliamentary select committee. I saw parts of that session. Geidt did not exactly inspire me with confidence.

The Times reported:

Lord Geidt, a former private secretary to the Queen, announced his resignation in a 21-word statement the day after MPs accused him of “whitewashing” Johnson’s conduct and questioned whether there was “really any point” to him.

Geidt, 60, came close to quitting last month after concluding that there were “legitimate” questions about whether the prime minister breached the ministerial code. He said that Johnson’s fine for breaking coronavirus rules threatened to undermine his role and risked leaving the ministerial code open to ridicule.

He also received a “humble and sincere” apology from Johnson in January after the prime minister withheld critical messages from Geidt’s inquiry into the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat.

A statement from Geidt published on the government website this evening said simply: “With regret, I feel that it is right that I am resigning from my post as independent adviser on ministers’ interests.”

In a bruising encounter with the public administration and constitutional affairs select committee yesterday, Geidt admitted that he had been “frustrated” by the prime minister’s approach to the scandal.

William Wragg, the Conservative chairman of the committee, told The Times: “Lord Geidt is a person of great integrity, motivated by the highest ideals of public service. For the prime minister to lose one adviser on ministers’ interests may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose two looks like carelessness.”

Then again, William Wragg is not a fan of Boris’s, prompting his supporters to think there was a stitch up, especially as Tony Blair had just been installed as a new member of the Order of the Garter.

Geidt’s letter seems to be focused on Boris’s fixed penalty notice for Partygate, but Boris’s response, published in The Guardian, is about steel tariffs:

https://image.vuukle.com/ec8968d1-827d-4c2c-be0c-d7788eecf909-246cc61d-a889-436e-a38d-8a75e6feb480

GB News’s Patrick Christys explained this before going into Tony Blair’s offences during his time as Prime Minister, including the Iraq War and letting IRA terrorists walk free. It’s a shame the video isn’t clearer, but the audio is compelling. After Christys introduced the subject, a panel debate took place:

Christys ran a poll asking if Boris is more unethical than Blair. Seventy per cent said No:

Blair’s former adviser John McTernan said that, unlike Boris, Blair had been cleared of a fixed penalty notice (for an irregularity in paying London’s congestion charge). But was Blair actually cleared? The BBC article from the time suggests that he wasn’t:

On June 24, after the Conservatives lost Neil Parish’s seat to the Lib Dems and the Wakefield seat to Labour, The Telegraph reported that the co-Chairman of the Conservative Party, Oliver Dowden MP, resigned. He seemed to blame the loss on Boris, although mid-term by-election victories often go to an Opposition party, something Dowden should have known:

Oliver Dowden has resigned as chairman of the Conservative Party after it suffered two by-election defeats, saying in a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson that “someone must take responsibility”.

Mr Dowden’s resignation came at 5.35am, shortly after the announcement of the two defeats. He had been scheduled to appear on the morning media round before he decided to step down.

In Tiverton and Honiton the Liberal Democrats overturned a 24,000 Tory majority to win, while Labour reclaimed Wakefield.

The contests, triggered by the resignation of disgraced Tories, offered voters the chance to give their verdict on the Prime Minister just weeks after 41 per cent of his own MPs cast their ballots against him.

Guido Fawkes posted Boris’s generous letter of thanks to Dowden and his video explaining that mid-term by-election results often explain voters’ frustration with the direction of the Government:

As usual, Blair’s former spin doctor Alastair Campbell posted another inaccuracy, this time about Labour’s by-election results:

At the time, Boris was away in Kigali, Rwanda, for CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting). While there, he clarified sex and gender. The Times reported:

A woman cannot be born with a penis, Boris Johnson said last night, adding that there were “particular problems” around “issues of gender”, but he said it was important to be “as understanding of everybody else as possible”.

Asked whether a woman could be born with a penis, Johnson replied: “Not without being a man”.

This has been an ongoing controversy for the past year. Neither Rishi Sunak nor Keir Starmer have been willing to answer that question. Boris met that challenge.

By the time Boris resigned on Thursday, July 7, millions of voters thought it was a stitch up.

Dan Wootton expressed our thoughts magnificently in his editorial that evening on GB News:

Excerpts from his transcript follow:

They won, folks.

They got him in the end.

Let’s be honest for a moment, they were never going to stop until they’d secured Boris Johnson’s head.

Since December, the campaign by the political establishment, the Remoaner elite, the civil service blob and – crucially – the country’s biased broadcast media, notably BBC News, ITV News and Sly News, has been fever pitch.

Eventually, the Conservative Party decided it was impossible to govern while also fighting such dark and powerful forces.

These are deeply depressing times for British democracy.

Boris is the third Tory Prime Minister brought down in six years.

The febrile and hostile establishment and the MSM knows the power they have to bring political paralysis to the country.

And why were they so determined to destroy Boris?

Think about it.

He was a transformational Prime Minister.

A Prime Minister who stared them all down to finally deliver Brexit.

A Prime Minister who had vowed to cut the size of the civil service and demanded they return to their damned desks.

A Prime Minister who was going to scrap the hated BBC licence fee and sell the far-left Channel 4 News.

It’s not hard to see why they would stop at nothing to discredit him.

I mean, last night the BBC quoted a source saying Boris Johnson “is now like Putin”.

That’s how deranged and determined his critics have become.

The celebration that broke out across the airwaves today – especially on the Boris Bashing Corporation once known as the BBC – blew up any final suggestion that we have an impartial broadcast media here in Britain

I wanted to share with you part of a conversation I had earlier today with a source close to the Prime Minister.

They told me: “People had no interest in talking about the quite historic leadership achievements be that dragging us through a pandemic, a world leading vaccine programme rollout and a quite uniquely special performance in regards to that European war.”

“Those people who wanted him gone never wanted to acknowledge that at any point. Never ever. It was always just the Westminster personality stuff. That was the only focus.”

“Labour has had not one policy or grown-up policy discussion. It has been an out and out campaign to remove Boris. And you always have to ask yourself why. Why did they want to get rid of Boris so much? Why did sections of the media do that? Ultimately, wounded or not, he is the Conservative’s best chance of winning an election” …

As the Daily Mail said today: The truth is, Mr Johnson stands head and shoulders above almost all his assassins. Compared with the mountains he has scaled, their combined achievements are little more than molehills

To Boris Johnson, it was a project not completed, largely down to external forces.

But thank you for delivering us Brexit; that is an achievement for the ages that will go down in the history books.

It was a sad evening, indeed.

However, in time, there might be an upside. Maybe he could appear on GB News now and again:

Boris won that night’s Greatest Briton accolade:

Wootton’s focus on Brexit was confirmed by The Telegraph‘s Sherelle Jacobs the following day. She fears that Boris’s resignation will give a lift to prominent Remainers:

With the implosion of Boris Johnson, the Brexit war threatens to start anew. Tory Leavers must accept their vulnerability. The Prime Minister who ended the last battle by getting a Brexit deal done has just fallen in ignominious circumstances. Meanwhile, Remainers – who will never give up the fight – scent weakness.

While Andrew Adonis rallies against a “revolution which devours its children”, Michael Heseltine has declared that “if Boris goes, Brexit goes”. It might be tempting to dismiss all this as the hopeful rantings of bitter men. After all, Sir Keir Starmer has been at pains to reassure voters in recent days that Labour will not take Britain back into the European Union.

But even if the leader of the Opposition – a Remainer who voted six times against a Brexit deal – is genuine, he is powerless to stop the rejuvenation of the Remainer campaign. As support for Brexit in the polls has seeped away in recent months, in part because of the chaos that has gripped the Government, ultra-Remainers have been on manoeuvres. With the fall of Johnson, they think their time has almost come.

Over the next two years, they will likely proceed with a calculated mixture of boldness and caution. Already the public is being relentlessly bombarded with misinformation, which erroneously links every ill facing Britain with the decision to leave the EU. As the Tory party is distracted by internal dramas, negative Brexit sentiment will mount. This is already starting to happen, as critics in the business world become blunter in their criticisms – from the aviation industry to the CBI.

Meanwhile, some Tory MPs have been discreetly arguing in favour of a softer Brexit. Indeed, while the removal of the PM was by no means a Remainer plot, some of his internal enemies were motivated by a desire for greater alignment with EU rules – or at least by their opposition to what they consider to be an excessively aggressive attitude towards fixing the Northern Ireland protocol …

In truth, Conservative fealty to the Brexit cause has been disintegrating even under Boris Johnson, as the Blob has sapped the Government’s will

The great fear is that the Tory party now elects a closet Remainer who does not have the conviction to take all this on. That Brexit dies with a whimper, smothered by bureaucratic inertia and then finally strangled after the next election. If Brexiteers want to avoid this fate, they must think like war strategists once again. That means confronting the extent of their current weakness, and taking their opponents seriously.

Boris also shares that same worry and said so in Parliament on July 19, the day of his final Prime Minister’s Questions:

Right after Boris’s resignation, an online petition appeared: ‘Reinstate Boris Johnson as PM’. It currently has over 23,000 signatures making it one of the top signed petitions on Change.org.

On Saturday, July 9, the i paper had an interesting report with several interviews:

The atmosphere sounded surreal:

“It was a bit weird”, a source said of the Cabinet meeting Boris Johnson convened on Thursday just two hours after he said he would step down, effectively putting Britain on pause.

The Prime Minister was flanked by senior ministers, some of whom, less than 24 hours, had earlier led a delegation of men and women in grey suits to No 10 to urge him to quit

Bill committees examining legislation line-by-line had to be cancelled, or they had newly resigned ministers sitting on them as backbenchers, while the whips who lacked the required specialist knowledge of the issues at stake were leading for the Government …

Contenders to take over as PM, when Mr Johnson does go, have been preparing for a contest months as the writing has slowly been scrawled on the wall of No 10.

Tom Tugendhat, Penny Mordaunt, and Jeremy Hunt were the most active hopefuls this week, contacting MPs and arranging meetings …

As the leadership contenders jostled, the Whitehall blame game began over Mr Johnson’s spectacular fall from grace. The Prime Minister entirely overhauled his inner circle in February, after the initial “Partygate” allegations broke, and it is largely this team that will shepherd the Government through the final few months of his premiership …

The arrival of Guto Harri, one of Mr Johnson’s oldest allies, as director of communications is seen by many as a contributor to the Prime Minister’s downfall

The spin chief had a habit of making up policies off the cuff, prompting advisers in other departments to joke about “the Guto special” when confronted with unexpected announcements from No 10. One Whitehall official concluded: “He is good for journalists, I’m not sure he’s good for HMG [Her Majesty’s Government]”

But others pin the ultimate blame firmly at Mr Johnson’s door.

One of Mr Johnson’s closest former advisers told i that it “all went wrong for the PM” when he stopped listening to those from Vote Leave

One of the former ministers who quit said on Thursday simply: “Everything is his fault. I spent months defending, or at least being generous about, his mistakes.

“Not after the last 24 hours. Appalling.”

On July 12, Guido reported that Boris loyalist Jacob Rees-Mogg thought that the Prime Minister’s name should be on the Conservative MPs’ ballot (emphases his):

… he affirmed it was “unjust” to deny the Prime Minister the opportunity to fight for his position amongst Tory members. This comes in the context of his previous arguments for the growing presence of personal mandates in British political leaders. Unfortunately, Guido doesn’t believe this strategy is quite in line with the contest rules…

I think this gave Boris’s supporters false hopes:

People in Conservative constituencies began emailing their MPs:

With no result, the question then turned to whether Boris’s name should be on the ballot for Conservative Party members.

On Saturday, July 16, The Times‘s Gabriel Pogrund and Harry Yorke posted an article: ‘How the Tories turned the heat on Rishi Sunak’. In it, they introduced Lord Cruddas, who would go on to campaign for Boris’s name to be on the members’ ballot:

Both men were Eurosceptics who had supported the Vote Leave campaign when it might have been politically advantageous not to do so. Both were the beneficiaries of Boris Johnson’s patronage. Cruddas had been given a peerage despite official objections. Sunak had been plucked from obscurity the previous year and made one of the youngest chancellors in history.

In 2021:

Sunak was the most popular politician in Britain and second only to Liz Truss in Conservative Home members’ polls, having overseen the furlough and Eat Out to Help Out schemes. In the chamber, Cruddas gave his own vote of confidence, saying Sunak’s budget “had established a clear path for the country to move from these difficult times”, praising his “thoughtful” approach and arguing it would “not just to reinvigorate the economy post Covid but to help propel the post-Brexit opportunities”.

By July 2022, everything had changed:

A week into the most toxic Tory leadership election in memory, the fact such comments were made feels inconceivable. Cruddas, 68, who remains close to Johnson, has shared posts on social media describing Sunak as a “rat”, “a snake”, a “little weasel”, a “backstabber”, “a slimy snake”, a “treacherous snake”, “Fishy Rishi”, “Hissy Rishi”, “Judas”, “the traitor”, “the Remainer’s choice”, a “sly assassin”, a “Tory wet” promoting high taxes and the leader of a “coup” who “must be removed at all costs”. Cruddas also retweeted claims about the financial affairs of Sunak’s wife, Akshata Murty.

Tonight the peer said there had indeed been a “coup”, adding: “I planned to donate a total of £500,000 this year but that is on hold and will not be paid unless the membership have a chance to vote on Boris being PM. I have no interest in Rishi who I deem to be not fit for high office due to his plotting and the orchestrated way he and others resigned to remove the PM.” He also accused Sunak, 42, of setting up his leadership “before Christmas” and choreographing his resignation to inflict maximum damage.

The problem for Sunak is that such sentiment — especially the notion that he behaved improperly and cannot be trusted on the economy — is not confined to a fringe on social media. He might be the frontrunner but “Anyone But Rishi” reflects the opinion of Johnson and a coalition within the party. This includes cabinet ministers, staff inside Downing Street and Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ), Johnson’s biggest donors, MPs opposed to higher taxes, and rivals for the leadership.

On July 22, The Telegraph‘s Christopher Hope added support for Boris’s return and, in the meantime, addition to the ballot:

Tim Montgomerie, a former aide to Mr Johnson who has since been critical of him, said he had been told by sources close to the Prime Minister that he was convinced he would be back.

In a well-sourced post on social media, Mr Montgomerie wrote: “Boris is telling aides that he’ll be PM again within a year” …

It comes as a row broke out among senior Conservatives about a campaign among party members to allow them a vote on whether Mr Johnson should continue as Prime Minister.

By Friday night, 7,600 members – all of whom have given their membership numbers – had signed a petition calling for the vote.

Lord Cruddas of Shoreditch, the former party treasurer who organised the petition, said “several MPs” had started to “make noises” about supporting his campaign

Conservative MPs panicked:

The next day, The Times stirred the pot even more with ‘Is Boris Johnson really planning another run at No 10?’

On Wednesday afternoon, moments after Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak were announced as the final two Conservative Party leadership contenders, a group of “red wall” MPs met on the House of Commons terrace to reflect on the result. “Is it too late to withdraw my resignation letter?” mused an MP, who held a junior ministerial role until the coup against Boris Johnson. “Shouldn’t we just bring back Boris?” she said, leaving the question to hang in the air …

… Much like the Roman republic after Caesar’s assassination, Whitehall is now riven by internecine warfare and a government paralysed by indecision …

For a man who just 18 days ago was brutally ousted from the job he has coveted his entire political life, Johnson appears to be living out his final days in Downing Street in a cheerful mood. Freed from the never-ending cycle of Westminster scandals, Johnson is relaxed and has spent the past few days hosting friends, relatives and other allies at Chequers and preparing a number of set-piece events leading up to his departure from No 10 in September …

Johnson, who allies claim remains furious with Sunak for his part in the coup, has sought to distract himself from the race to select his successor through media-friendly stunts …

Several MPs who helped oust Johnson have received a backlash from their constituents, stoking fears that they may face the same electoral retribution inflicted on Conservative MPs who ousted Margaret Thatcher. Backbenchers in red wall seats have been inundated with emails from voters who are furious at their role in ousting the prime minister.

They added that their postbag was filled with messages from newly converted Tory voters who have warned they will not vote for the party again now Johnson is gone. A colleague of Gary Sambrook, MP for Birmingham Northfield, claimed he had received hundreds of emails from constituents since he stood up in the Commons earlier this month and accused Johnson of refusing to accept responsibility for his mistakes …

Johnson leaves, aides say, with the air of someone with unfinished business. Whether this is the end of the Johnsonian project, or a precursor to his own Hollywood-esque sequel, remains to be seen.

On July 25, Christopher Hope wrote that the Boris petition had garnered 10,000 signatures:

Insiders say he is obsessed with delivering for the 14 million voters who voted Conservative in 2019, many for the first time because of him.

There are already stirrings of a revolt among the members. By Saturday night, 10,000 Conservative members had signed a petition organised by Lord Cruddas of Shoreditch, former Party treasurer, and David Campbell-Bannerman, former Tory MEP, demanding a say over his future.

The members want a second ballot to confirm MPs’ decision to force his resignation, to run concurrently with the official leadership ballot between Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak.

That evening, Dan Wootton stated his belief that Boris’s name should be on the members’ ballot:

He asked his panel, which included Boris’s father Stanley about it:

You can see relevant portions in these shorter extracts: Stanley supporting his son, Stanley verbally sparring with a journalist for the i paper as well as the opinion of former Boris adviser, Tim Montgomerie.

In the end, nothing happened. There was no Boris ballot.

Early this week, I heard one of the campaigners tell GB News that CCHQ are asking the organisers to do a sanity check on the signatories, confirming their Party membership number and clearing out any duplicates. If the number is still sizeable, CCHQ will discuss a possible changing of the rules for any future contests.

This is good news, in a way, but it will not help the Conservatives in the next general election. Boris’s supporters are still angry.

Ukrainians

The Ukrainians will miss their biggest supporter.

They were saddened by his resignation:

Boris offered them his reassurance:

Volodymyr Zelenskyy even made a special announcement to the Ukrainian people about it:

Guido Fawkes wrote:

After leaving office Guido suspects Boris may end up reflecting more proudly on his work supporting Ukraine than even his Brexit legacy. Since the announcement of his resignation, Ukrainians have come out en masse to voice their sadness about his impending departure … Taking to Telegram late last night, Zelenksyy posted a touching video saying “Today, the main topic in our country has become the British topic – Boris Johnson’s decision to resign as party leader and Prime Minister”

Boris’s hair has become a bit of an icon there (just as Trump’s had in the United States). Guido has the images:

Boris’s popularity among Ukrainians has already been well-reported since the outbreak of war. Streets have been named after him, as have cakes in a Kyiv patisserie. Yesterday Ukraine’s national railways redesigned their logo to include an unmistakable mop of blonde hair, as did major supermarket Сільпо…

Boris once joked that the reason he’d left journalism for politics was because “no one puts up statues to journalists”. It seems that, thanks to his efforts in Ukraine, he did manage achieved his wish for public deification – just not in the country in which he was elected…

On July 8, Ukraine’s youngest MP made a video praising Boris:

Boris Johnson took a clear stand when so many others looked the other way.

In August, someone was inspired to paint a mural of Boris:

On August 24, Boris made his farewell — and surprise — visit to Ukraine on the nation’s Independence Day:

Guido wrote:

Boris has made yet another surprise visit to Ukraine on its independence day — and the sixth month anniversary of its invasion. He used the visit, his last as PM, to announce a £54 million aid package to the country of 2000 state-of-the-art drones and loitering munitions …

Slava Ukraini…

Guido also posted this video:

GB News had more on the story:

Mr Johnson’s visit came as Ukraine marked 31 years since its independence from Moscow’s rule.

And it also came six months on from Russia’s invasion of Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s nation …

He said in Kyiv today: “What happens in Ukraine matters to us all.

“That is why I am in Kyiv today. That is why the UK will continue to stand with our Ukrainian friends. I believe Ukraine can and will win this war” …

The Prime Minister used his meeting with Mr Zelenskyy to set out a further package of military aid, including 2,000 drones and loitering munitions.

He also received the Order of Liberty, the highest award that can be bestowed on foreign nationals, for the UK’s support for Ukraine.

Mr Johnson said: “For the past six months, the United Kingdom has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukraine, supporting this sovereign country to defend itself from this barbaric and illegal invader.

“Today’s package of support will give the brave and resilient Ukrainian armed forces another boost in capability, allowing them to continue to push back Russian forces and fight for their freedom.”

The package includes 850 hand-launched Black Hornet micro-drones – smaller than a mobile phone – which can be used to provide live feeds and still images to troops, particularly important in urban warfare.

The support also includes larger drones and loitering weapons, which can be used to target Russian vehicles and installations.

The UK is also preparing to give mine-hunting vehicles to operate off the coast, with Ukrainian personnel being trained in their use in UK waters in the coming weeks.

Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK Vadym Prystaiko marked the occasion by urging UK citizens to be “patient” as the war-torn country “cannot afford to lose your support”.

He said: “You are playing a very important part in this fight. Ukraine will do what it takes to claim victory.”

But will Britons continue to love Ukraine as much when the winter and higher fuel bills kick in?

Boris told us that we must do it, we must suffer, for Ukraine:

He has a point, but I do wonder how well this will play by the end of the year.

At least Boris got his Churchillian international claim to fame.

What next?

This week, Boris made a farewell tour of the UK, topped off with a dawn police raid of a house:

Guido has the video and explains the greeting:

This morning Boris accompanied the police on a home raid. Given we’re now comfortably into the 21st century, it didn’t take long for one of the occupants to realise the PM was in his home and film the experience, asking Boris ‘wagwan‘. Boris politely asked the filming resident “how you doing?”. The Snapchatter could have at least offered Boris a cuppa…

It’s rumoured that Michael Gove might be off to edit a newspaper:

Guido has the story and the audio of Gove’s plans:

This morning Michael Gove laughed off the suggestion he’s planning an imminent return to Fleet Street, insisting on the Today Programme he’s “definitely planning to stay in Parliament” and won’t be stepping down any time soon. Rumours have been building in SW1 that Gove had his eye on the editorship of, erm, one particular Murdoch-owned broadsheet, should a vacancy become available …

No, no. I think my first responsibility and duty is to my constituents in Surrey Heath. I’m going to stay on as MP, argue for them, and also argue for some of the causes in which I believe. I think it’s vitally important that we continue to make the case for levelling up. I think Boris Johnson is absolutely right to focus on the need to provide additional support for overlooked and undervalued communities…

Gove added he still has “a reservoir” of affection for Boris despite being the only Minister the PM actually sacked in July. Boris is also rumoured to be sticking around until the next election. Could make for awkward small talk on the backbenches.

I predict they will stay on as MPs until the next election, just show up less often in the Commons.

As for Rishi, The Guardian said on Friday, September 2, that he was being compared with Michael Heseltine, one of the MPs who brought down Margaret Thatcher:

One of the most familiar refrains of the Conservative leadership contest was candidates earnestly inviting comparisons to Margaret Thatcher.

But after his resignation as chancellor brought down Boris Johnson’s wobbling house of cards, a Tory insider said Rishi Sunak found himself with “the curse of Heseltine hanging round his neck”.

Despite long having been talked of as a likely future prime minister, Sunak struggled to shed the parallel with the man who helped bring down Thatcher but failed in his own tilt at the top job – before coining the famous political cliche: “He who wields the knife never wears the crown.”

I’ll leave the final word to The Spectator‘s political editor James Forsyth, who muses on what politics will look like after Boris leaves:

His absence will reshape the political landscape because his presence defined it.

We will find out who Boris’s successor is on Monday. The Guardian has a report on what we should expect:

The candidate who receives the most votes will be revealed on Monday by Sir Graham Brady, the chair of the 1922 Committee, a gathering of Conservative backbench MPs (not named after the average year of birth of its members but the year in which it was founded) …

The formal handover will take place on Tuesday. The Queen is recovering from the outgoing prime minister’s tenure in her Scottish pile Balmoral and will appoint the new PM there, which will be a challenge as it requires the winner to leave Westminster.

Johnson is expected to make a farewell address outside 10 Downing Street at about 9am on Tuesday. It is not known whether he has written two versions of the speech, one based on staying, one based on leaving.

More next week as a new chapter in Conservative politics begins.

End of series

On Thursday, July 28, 2022, LBC’s morning host Nick Ferrari presented a hustings in Leeds for Conservative Party members:

Ferrari interviewed the candidates separately, and each had a chance to deliver a message alone to the audience.

The audience also asked questions.

Liz Truss

This year’s burning question for any politician has been, ‘What is a woman?’ Very few have defined a woman, including Rishi Sunak.

Liz played on that theme:

This hustings took place on the same day that it was announced the Tavistock clinic was to close. This next video has an excellent interview with Dr David Bell, a whistleblower who used to work for the clinic:

Liz discussed sexual identity:

A member of the audience expressed her concern that school loos were changed to unisex during the pandemic when students were at home. Liz came out in favour of separate boys and girls facilities:

LBC’s article, which has a video of the hustings in full, says:

The foreign secretary was quizzed about same-sex toilets being introduced in schools during the pandemic while speaking at LBC’s Tory hustings.

When asked about returning to single-sex toilets, Ms Truss said: “I completely agree with you – I have sought to clarify that as women’s minister.

“I’ve been very clear that single-sex spaces should be protected, particularly for young people as well as vulnerable people – vulnerable women in domestic violence shelters, for example – and I can assure you, as Prime Minister, I would direct that to happen.

“It’s a difficult time being a teenager – being a young girl – and you should be able to have the privacy you need in your own loo, so I 100% agree with you and I would make that happen.

In a follow up question from LBC’s Nick Ferrari about pupils who are transitioning, Ms Truss added: “First of all, I do not believe that under-18s should be able to make irreversible decisions about their own bodies that they might come to regret later.

“It’s very important to note that.

“And of course, schools should be sensitive – they can provide additional facilities – but it should not be at the expense of protecting young girls.”

On the subject of schools and the pandemic, Liz said it was a mistake to close schools in early 2021 and allow the pubs to stay open. She would not have closed schools but said that hindsight is a wonderful thing and no one knew at the time what to do. She did give Boris credit for doing ‘his absolute best’:

In response to Peter from Tadcaster, Liz said that she supports fracking but said it must have residents’ consent. She also supports the smaller nuclear plants, ‘like we have in Derbyshire’. She also thinks that we need to continue to use more of our own gas as an immediate response to energy demand:

There was a light hearted moment when Ferrari asked her about her university days. She admitted she was something of ‘a teenage controversialist’. She said she regretted saying that the monarchy should be abolished as soon as she said it years ago. And she has since met the Queen. She also said that she had been a member of the Liberal Democrats but left when she realised ‘the error of their ways’:

A reality show, Love Island, has been this summer’s must-watch for a proportion of the British population. Liz said she could watch only ten minutes with her teenage daughter before she turned off the television. She thinks her daughter went to watch it in another room:

Liz repeated her stance on tax, saying that the rise in National Insurance not only broke the 2019 Party manifesto but is also unnecessary as it limits growth:

Liz, who grew up in Leeds, says that the public transport there is as bad now as it was when she was a girl. She promised to improve the situation. She also pledged to cut red tape for farmers:

Ferrari asked Liz for her opinion of Theresa May and Boris Johnson, as she served in both their Cabinets. She said that she always liked Boris and supported him in the 2016 leadership contest, which Theresa May ultimately won. She gave Boris much credit during his time as Party leader and Prime Minister:

Ferrari asked her whether she would lead us into World War Three, which she dismissed as Russian propaganda and sabre-rattling. She added that the UK should have been better prepared in the past, because we did not do enough for Ukraine over Crimea and the Donbass:

On that topic, Liz said that she would raise defence spending to three per cent of GDP by 2030:

More on that below.

An audience member asked about post-pandemic staff shortages. Liz said she would tighten benefits rules to get the workshy back into paid employment. She also said she would have a training programme so that Britons had the available skillsets that we need:

Contrast her response with Rishi’s below. He wants to bring more foreigners into the country and forget about our own people.

Someone from the Bury Conservative Association asked whether Liz would give Jeremy Hunt a Cabinet position. She replied that she was not thinking about a possible Cabinet at the moment but that she would appoint a broad range of Conservative talent, should she become Prime Minister:

Please, Liz, no Jeremy Hunt. He would deploy all of Beijing’s coronavirus policies and have us masked up and in lockdown in perpetuity. He also said in Parliament that he wanted to make the annual flu jab mandatory. No, no and no!

Rishi Sunak

Last week, Rishi was adamant that tax cuts were ‘immoral’, then he did a U-turn.

He tried to convince everyone that he didn’t do a U-turn on his tax policy. Hmm:

Ferrari then gave the UK’s most recent statistics on our poor economic performance this year, but Rishi reminded him about 2021 figures, which were far higher than any other Western nation. Rishi also said that visas needed to be revisited to make sure we attract the ‘best and brightest’ into Britain. Notice how he has no plans to train young Britons for British jobs. Why am I thinking of his father-in-law’s Infosys? Hmm:

Ferrari brought up the petition to the Conservative Party to put Boris’s name on the members’ ballots. By last Thursday, more than 14,000 people had signed the petition. Rishi said that Boris had lost the confidence of his MPs, 60 of whom resigned from various Government posts. Rishi said that a Prime Minister must have the confidence of his MPs, hence the present leadership contest:

Ferrari told Rishi that he was the first Chancellor since Labour’s Denis Healey to raise corporation tax. Healey did that in 1974.

Rishi gave an incoherent answer. He said that Margaret Thatcher raised taxes in the early part of her premiership which lowered inflation. (Mmm. Actually, Margaret Thatcher got different advisers who told her to lower tax, which brought about growth.) He said that lower corporation tax has not worked over the past decade. So, he would cut tax on business investment instead.

I’ll leave this to the Rishi fans to ponder and tell me why he is correct:

Ferrari said that President Zelenskyy said that he would like for Boris to remain front and centre for Ukraine and not disappear into the background. Rishi said that Boris is ‘very talented’ but that he would not give him a post in his Cabinet, were he to become Prime Minister:

A lady in the audience asked Rishi how he viewed our current asylum system. He said that it needs to be changed, by pulling out of the ECHR and using the international Refugee Convention instead. He said that we reject far fewer asylum claims than other European countries and that needs to be changed:

Another member of the audience asked Rishi how committed he would be to supporting Ukraine. Rishi said that he ‘absolutely’ would be. In elaborating, he said that sanctions towards Russia need to be changed, because, so far, they are having little effect on Putin:

Matthew from West Yorkshire asked Rishi whether he had stabbed Boris Johnson in the back and how the former Chancellor planned to reunite the Party. Rishi said that he had to resign because he and Boris differed too much in the end on economic policy (?!). He pledged to bring the best Conservatives into his Cabinet if elected leader and thinks that would reunite the Party. Watch his leg bob up and down as he answers Ferrari near the end of the video:

Verdict

Afterwards, LBC took calls and interviewed experts about what they thought of the hustings.

LBC’s Ben Kentish asked his fellow presenter Iain Dale, a Conservative, for his views. Dale said that not every topic can be covered in one of these events. Therefore, topics such as child care and the NHS are discussed at other local meetings.

Dale thought that Liz ‘smashed it’. She did not use any notes this time. She gave ‘interesting’ and ‘entertaining’ solo speeches, which surprised him. He said that Rishi did a good job, too, but didn’t quite come up to Liz’s standard that evening. He said that Rishi has a lot of catching up to do and that ‘he’s in a real bind now’.

He concluded that it was a ‘really good evening for Liz Truss’. He gives her a 75 per cent chance of becoming the next Party leader and, by extension, Prime Minister:

Ferrari took more reactions on his Friday morning show:

Body language expert Dr Harry Witchell said that Liz was more relaxed in both her presentation and gestures than she had been previously. Rishi, he said, was much less aggressive, which was an improvement over last week’s performances:

Patrick Hennessy from London Communications Agency said that Liz is likely to have won over the Telegraph‘s readers. the Leeds audience seemed to warm more to Liz than to Rishi. He reminded Ferrari of Matthew from West Yorkshire’s aforementioned question asking Rishi if he’d stabbed Boris Johnson in the back. Indeed:

Former Conservative MP Michael Portillo said that Rishi’s campaign is slipping away. He pointed out that, after the Leeds hustings, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace came out in favour of Liz Truss and, also crucially, Simon Clarke, who worked closely with Rishi, has come out in favour of Liz:

Ferrari then interviewed Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, who described Liz as ‘feisty’:

Ben Wallace discussed Liz’s varied experience, reminding Ferrari and listeners that she had been Chief Secretary to the Treasury. The person in that post is the one who tells another Secretary of State whether they can increase their budget. Liz later worked in trade and is the current Foreign Secretary. Wallace said that he has been in meetings with her representing Britain around the world, so she has a lot of experience on the world stage:

Wallace told Ferrari that he ‘didn’t have the luxury’ of resigning … unlike some ministers. He meant Rishi, among others. He said that he, like the Home Secretary Priti Patel, needed to stay in place for national security reasons. The Home Secretary, he explains, has warrants to sign. He, as Defence Secretary, has military operations to authorise. He also said that he did not want Boris to stand down as Party leader:

Wallace said that, in 2019, Rishi wanted to give Defence a one-year monetary settlement. Wallace said that Boris overrode that decision and gave the department a multi-year settlement instead, which is what is necessary:

LBC has more on Wallace’s interview here.

All being well, tomorrow’s post will be about Andrew Neil’s grilling of Rishi Sunak last Friday evening on Channel 4.

What follows is a short, subtitled video interview of a retired Russian military officer Mikhail Khodaryonok, who discusses the reality of the battles in Ukraine.

The news show hosts, particularly anchor Olga Skabeyeva, were not best pleased to hear that things are not going well for Mother Russia:

He is a reliable analyst:

Olga Skabeyeva tried to push the motherland’s line throughout the interview, but Khodaryonok was undaunted.

He said that Russia’s performance was not ‘normal’, which means ‘okay’ in their language. He added that no country is supporting Russia in this conflict. He pointed out that 42 nations adamantly oppose Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Skabeyeva asked if Putin could ‘make friends with London’, to which he replied, ‘No’.

Furthermore, he added that China’s and India’s support is ‘not unconditional’.

Khodaryonok said that old Soviet tactics, such as invading Finland, would look silly:

He suggested that morale on the Russian side is not very good, whereas the Ukrainian troops are ready to fight to the death. Quoting Lenin and Marx, he said that, in order to win, an army must have strong resolve:

Replies to the tweet with the video questioned what Khodaryonok‘s interview is meant to signal to the Russian people.

Nothing like this would be broadcast, people say, without some sort of authorisation from the Kremlin:

Perhaps it signals an upcoming admission of Russian defeat:

Or perhaps there will be a temporary Russian withdrawal in order for them to regroup and invade again:

This is not the first time Khodaryonok has spoken out about Russia’s attacks on Ukraine. In the second video below, he says how difficult it would be to amass air, naval and land power. To get new planes would take until 2023. A new naval fleet would take two years. As for land power, he says that Russian materiel is simply too old and that NATO has 21st century equipment. As for boots on the ground? See the first video:

Those are great videos worth watching in under five minutes.

I pray this conflict ends sooner rather than later.

On the first Thursday in May 2022, the UK will hold local elections.

It is unclear how well the Conservative Party will do, given sudden cost of living increases across the board, all of which occurred on April 1. Oh, were that this an April Fool joke. Sadly, it is all too real.

On April 3, Tim Stanley recapped the Conservatives’ self-inflicted wounds for The Telegraph: ‘The nannying Tories face oblivion if they refuse to get their priorities straight’.

Excerpts follow, emphases mine, except for Guido Fawkes’s posts below:

The same day the gas bill doubled, it snowed. Oh, and restaurants were mandated to list calorie counts on menus. After 12 years in office, the Tories have gone from trying to fix the state to trying to fix us, so we’ll be less of a shivery, fat burden on the bureaucrats. Don’t eat, they advise; don’t fly, don’t drive, avoid using the heating. In fact, it would be helpful if we could stop existing altogether. The NHS would look good on paper if no one used it, and we’d have a zero per cent failure rate in schools if no one ever sat an exam.

As MPs take a break from Parliament this week, the Tories need to dwell on what they have actually done and what there is to do. This all hinges upon the question of who they truly represent. Considering they were elected to clear up the economic mess left by Labour, it’s a bummer to note that debt is higher than under Gordon Brown, the tax burden rising and living standards crashing. We cannot blame ministers for a pandemic or a war, it’s true, but the Conservative Party’s solutions are near-indistinguishable from New Labour’s, and the alternatives rarely aired. Last week, I sat in on the Treasury Committee’s “grilling” of Rishi Sunak and the two points I never heard made were “you are spending too much” and “how dare you take my constituents’ money to do it”. The anger is not there. No party in Westminster stands for the consumer.

It was heartening to see that Stanley shares my impressions of parliamentary debate — virtue signalling, for the most part, including from Conservative benches:

This is not merely a crisis of philosophy, it is undemocratic. MPs are supposedly elected to do what their constituents want, but too many of them, as soon as they arrive in Westminster, are absorbed into a culture that has a uniform idea of what voters need, a total plan for life that runs from reducing carbon to dropping enough weight to fit into a size six dress (even better if you’re a fella!). Half the debates are toe-curlingly pious nonsense that does the electorate no benefit except to reassure them that their MP is spectacularly compassionate – and the more laws you pass, goes the logic, the more money we splash, the more compassionate they appear to be. Ergo, the most important metric for success in 2022 is how much the Treasury is spending, not the results.

It’s maddening to contemplate that nothing is ever done about situations past and present that affect many Britons:

Where to begin? The Ockenden report has stated that more than 200 babies and nine mothers might have survived were it not for failings at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust. During the lockdown, the Government allocated around £37 billion for the deeply inefficient Test and Trace project. It lost £4.9 billion in loan fraud. Not one police officer has been sacked in relation to the Rotherham child abuse scandal. And the same Home Office that struggles to kick out foreign-born criminals finds it strangely difficult to let in Ukrainian women and children.

And we’re paying for this incompetence, while an independent body that Labour created years ago just gave all MPs a 2.7% pay rise:

You are paying for all this, and likely paying more thanks, despite [Rishi] Sunak’s tinkering, to a combination of National Insurance changes and inflation dragging people into ever higher tax bands. The Chancellor, in his munificence, says he plans to cut income tax in 2024, which means the British government is now handing out IOUs. At the same time, he is also bunging us £200 to help with the electricity bills, a sum that the state will reclaim at a later date, which means it’s also entered the habit of writing “UOMes”. MPs are getting a wee grant of their own. Their salaries will rise by 2.7 per cent, or £2,212.

The Government has become more intrusive and we have less money in our pockets:

… thanks to Covid, the public sector has been calling the shots since 2020, while the burden of wealth and power has shifted decisively away from the individual. Does this feel like a freer society than 12 years ago? Or a happier one? Paranoia and suspicion are not only widespread but encouraged (adverts on the London Underground now warn against “staring”), and privacy is dead. I can remember when we were told to protect our data. Now, just to take a train to Belgium, I have to prove my vaccine status by downloading the NHS app, send it a photo of my driving licence and record a video of my face reciting a series of numbers. Do I trust the NHS will delete all this information once used? Bless you. I’d sooner invite a rabid fox to babysit the chickens

Voters, in the eyes of far too many, are spreaders of disease or pollution (in the opinion of some of the old ladies who glue themselves to roads, we ought even to stop breeding), and pockets of money waiting to be tapped.

What is a truly conservative concept of government?

the old-fashioned principle of offering us the best possible service at the lowest possible price

Small government doesn’t mean “no government” but more efficient government – more effective precisely because it limits itself to a narrower range of tasks at which it can excel. Drawing a line under the Trimalchio’s feast of a Spring Statement, the Tories must spend the time they have before the next election peeling back the bureaucracy where it is not needed, passing the benefits on to the people who have been robbed to pay for it, and coming up with creative ways to encourage the private sphere to revive. I don’t just mean conjuring up new markets in insurance or energy, but also unleashing culture and technology, faith and family, the very things that make life worth living.

Bravo!

Ultimately, Stanley says:

The paradoxical goal of conservative politics is to make politics less important in everyday life, and while it might sound hopelessly idealistic to expect powerful people to surrender power, unless the Tories try to reduce the state, they will eventually lose office altogether. The time will come when voters finally snap, and take it away.

Let us look at a few more news items on this subject.

A week or two ago, someone sent in a letter to The Telegraph illustrating how much the Government is taking in tax. This is an alarming practical example:

https://image.vuukle.com/0fb1f625-47b3-4788-9031-5fe43d5ad981-f54455a1-3822-4557-8d9f-fd2fa4d2fe43

Now let’s look at Net Zero, the Government’s pet project, initiated by then-Prime Minister Theresa May.

This is a practical illustration of the folly of electric cars, written by conservative columnist and broadcaster Iain Dale for The Telegraph:

Back in November, I acquired an electric car, something I never thought I would do … I calculated it would save me thousands of pounds every year … 

On Friday night, I was invited to speak to Beverley and Holderness Conservatives. The main difference when you drive an electric car on a long journey is that you have to plan. In my old car, I could drive 600 miles without filling the tank, but if I ever nearly ran out of diesel there was always a petrol station around the corner.

The equivalent is not true if you have an electric car. You have to plan your journey using apps such as Zap-Map, which tell you where the charging points are, and whether they’re being used, or working. I got to Beverley OK, having recharged the car at Donington Park services on the M1, which has a few charging points. Some motorway services don’t have any.

The return journey proved to be a disaster. I left Beverley at 9am and arrived home in Kent at 7.45pm. A journey that should have taken four hours lasted an astonishing 10¾. It was a day completely wasted. The problem was that the three fast chargers in Beverley were either in use or didn’t work. So I had to use slow chargers to get to the next fast charger, which was 50 miles away. Range anxiety is a real phenomenon. The whole time you’re looking at the screen in front of you, wondering if you will run out of charge before you reach the next charger. And then what?

This week, [Transport Secretary] Grant Shapps announced a target of 300,000 more chargers across the country by 2030, the year when the Government says it will ban the sale of new petrol and diesel powered cars. Fatally, he’s left it to local authorities to make sure the roll-out happens. Mark my words, it won’t. Not without national direction.

My advice is this. If you only do relatively short journeys, then buying an electric car is a good decision. If you regularly travel more than 150 miles, it isn’t. In my experience, the car manufacturers lie about the expected range. My electric car is supposed to do 298 miles. The reality is that it does 206, or 215 if the weather is warm. Caveat emptor.

In other news, the price of milk is set to rise by 50%. The Telegraph reports that crisis talks with EU and British dairy farmers took place in Brussels last week:

Rocketing costs from feed, fertiliser and fuel have stoked fears in the industry of a surge in milk prices not seen in decades.

The cost of four pints of milk will jump from around £1.15 to between £1.60 and £1.70, an increase of up to 50pc, according to Kite Consulting, the UK’s leading adviser to dairy farmers.

Michael Oakes, the dairy board chair of the National Farmers’ Union, agreed that milk prices will likely rise by as much as 50pc.

John Allen at Kite said a 30-year period of low milk price rises is “coming to an end now” as costs surge on multiple fronts. He expects a typical pack of butter to rise from £1.55 to more than £2.

He said: “What is of concern at present is processors are getting inflationary costs as well and also we are short of milk around the world.”

Dairy industry bosses from the UK and elsewhere in Europe flew into Brussels at the end of last week with talks led by Eucolait, the continent’s leading dairy industry group. Dairy processors, which act as a link between farmers and shops, are said to be deeply concerned about soaring costs both at farm level and further up the supply chain, as the war in Ukraine lifts key input costs

UK dairy industry bosses have raised concerns over their costs to the Government, but officials at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) are said to be merely in “listening mode”

Mr Oakes, who is also a farmer, said: “I was paying about £7,000 for an artic [articulated lorry] load of fertiliser, and this year it’s £28,000. It would have been a little bit less before Ukraine happened, but it made another big jump because we’d already seen higher gas prices, which have implications for fertiliser costs …

He added that feed costs have risen 60pc.

As if all that isn’t enough to worry voters, we have the Online Safety Bill passing through Parliament. Guido Fawkes tells us what is happening as Ofcom, the communications regulator, prepares for the not-so-distant future:

Scary.

Guido’s accompanying post says, in part:

According to Melanie Dawes, the newly-appointed CEO of Ofcom, the quango will increase headcount by 400 staff ahead of new powers to police the internet in the Online Safety Bill, which will be voted on in Parliament after Easter. That’s a lot of censors…

Ofcom will have Putin-style powers to block websites from being seen in the UK if those sites fail to uphold their new legal duty of care to remove “harmful content”. The definition of “harmful content”, of course, will be a political question. Will questioning hurtling towards net-zero whilst millions are in energy poverty be deemed harmful content? …

Ofcom’s Melanie Dawes told Times Radio:

We’ve got some tough and strong tools in our toolkit as a result of this legislation. And I think we need those. These very strict and somewhat draconian kinds of sanctions are really only the sort of thing that you would expect to use as a serious last resort.

If you don’t accept self-censorship and comply, your website will be blocked. Chilling.

Then we found out at the weekend that the civil servant in charge of ethics was at a lockdown party.

The Times‘s Patrick Maguire reported:

Were this a plot point in a satire, it would feel much too lazy for any self-respecting reader to get behind. But here we are: the official who was then in charge of ethics on Whitehall has been fined for her attendance at a lockdown-busting karaoke party.

As the first major name to have been revealed to have received a fixed penalty notice, Helen Macnamara — then the government’s head of propriety and ethics, now in the business of neither as director of policy and corporate affairs at the Premier League — is surely a sign of things to come.

For confirmation of her attendance at a leaving do in the Cabinet Office in June 2020 — at a cost of £50 — is a sign that it wasn’t just the junior, nameless and faceless who breached Covid restrictions at the heart of government over that fateful period, as Boris Johnson would much prefer to be the case.

Meanwhile, Scotland Yard is also said to have told people who attended a No 10 party on April 16 last year, the day before Philip’s funeral, that they would be given fixed penalty notices: conclusive proof at last that the law was broken in Downing Street itself.

The PM did not attend either do, but the slow burn of revelations from the Met’s investigation is hardly ideal, particularly with elections just over a month away.

“I have 65,000 constituents in west Wales, where I represent, and they are not shy in coming forward and expressing a view about this and a number of other subjects,” Simon Hart, the Welsh secretary, told Sky News this morning.

“And throughout all of this saga of the Downing Street parties they have said one thing very clearly, and in a vast majority they say they want contrition and they want an apology, but they don’t want a resignation.”

The bigger risk, looking at the polls, is that they don’t want to vote Tory

However, there are two bright rays of sunlight in an otherwise cloudy day.

The first is that London’s position as the second most important financial centre in the world is holding steady, as The Telegraph reported on Monday, April 4:

London remains Europe’s dominant financial centre based on factors such as (relative) political stability, labour market flexibility, quality of life, infrastructure and innovation, a ranking by think tank Z/Yen Group found last week. It was ranked second only to New York globally, while Paris came in at 11th place.

The second is that Volodymyr Zelenskyy still appreciates all of Boris Johnson’s efforts for Ukraine. He is contemptuous of Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel, as Guido reports:

Guido has the video of Zelenskyy praising Boris:

Zelenskyy’s said the UK has “agreed on new defensive support for Ukraine. New package. Very, very tangible support,” addingThank you Boris for the leadership! Historical leadership. I’m sure of it”. 

It’s too bad that Zelenskyy cannot campaign for Boris’s Conservatives. They could use his help.

It happened, but it happened two years too late.

A third Telegraph journalist has come out against Joe Biden.

Earlier this month, Tim Stanley declared that Trump made the right assessment about Russia.

This week, Nile Gardiner asked whether Europe has finally awakened to the truth about Joe Biden.

Two days later, on March 30, 2022, Allister Heath wrote ‘Joe Biden is president in name only but the US establishment refuses to admit it’.

Heath details the chaos of the White House at home and abroad. Emphases mine below.

First, there were his pronouncements about Putin and Russia from last month to the present:

His embarrassingly downgraded role became obvious last week when he suddenly veered off-script during his keynote address in Poland, ad-libbing of Vladimir Putin that “for God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power”. It was a dramatic escalation, a clear and simple message that no reasonable person could possibly misinterpret, and yet the White House appeared not even to ask him for permission before “clarifying” his statement. Biden’s people – who are supposed to work for him, rather than the other way around – immediately denied that he was calling for regime change. They claimed, within seconds of his speech, that the words he uttered didn’t actually mean what he obviously intended them to signify.

They were undoubtedly seeking to protect Biden from himself, and to look after US interests, by cancelling an intervention that could have provoked a furious Russian reaction. But it was an astonishing moment none the less, demonstrating that Biden’s role is now largely ceremonial: this is a collegiate administration, with an all-powerful Democratic Cabinet and federal bureaucracy. What Biden says should not be taken too seriously. He is not the fount of power, and has a habit of blurting out what colleagues might have been discussing in private.

Time and again in recent days, the President’s pronouncements have been “walked back” by those really in charge. Most notably, he wrongly told members of the 82nd Airborne Division that they would be “going to” Ukraine soon; he said America would respond “in kind” were the Russians to use chemical weapons.

His worst blunder came when he claimed prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that “it’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and then we end up having a fight about what to do and not do”. He was then asked whether he was “effectively giving Putin permission to make a small incursion into the country”. Biden’s answer sent an even more catastrophic message to the Russians: “Good question. That’s how it did sound like, didn’t it?”

Heath notes that the American media are, unsurprisingly, giving Biden a pass:

the president isn’t really presiding andAmerica’s constitution is once again in deep crisis. It is a scandal.

Mainstream commentators were grumpy at the White House denials, but refused to ask the obvious questions about the president’s series of gaffes or to demand an investigation into why this may be happening. Had this been Trump, there would have been calls for the Cabinet to at least consider invoking the 25th amendment to the US constitution relating to whether a president could be considered unfit to remain in office

There is no excuse for failing to scrutinise and hold to account any president, regardless of party.

Then there are Biden’s Afghanistan disaster as well as his intent to turn back the clock with Iran:

On foreign policy, he is seeking to turn the clock back to the time when he was vice president. Biden is proposing a disastrous surrender to Iran on the nuclear issue, and even to remove the Revolutionary Guards’ terrorist designation. His withdrawal from Afghanistan was right in theory but catastrophically executed, and helped signal to rogue regimes that the US had gone soft.

Biden has done no better domestically. He began rolling back Trump’s successes as soon as he was sworn in.

Now he is considering a radically left tax plan for Americans — taxing unrealised capital gains. Scary. This would affect many middle class taxpayers:

Biden’s shocking weakness also helps to explain the disastrous drift of US policy in all other respects. He was supposedly elected as a reasonable centrist, a liberal rather than a woke activist, a traditional Democrat rather than a neo-socialist.

Yet on economics, his latest tax proposal is far worse than anything Jeremy Corbyn dreamt up. Biden wants to tax unrealised capital gains, something that has never been attempted before in this way. He wants to tax wealthy Americans – in reality, not just billionaires but many other entrepreneurs and investors without whose contributions the US economy would collapseon the basis of the paper increase in their fortunes. This would be a recipe for economic meltdown, a brain drain, capital flight and a massive recession.

Heath concludes that radical advisers behind the scenes are running the show:

The fact that Biden is in office, but not in power, has given his party’s hardliners free rein to wreak havoc. His presidency is turning out to be a catastrophe for America, and a calamity for the rest of the world. For how much longer will we have to put up with this travesty?

There’s no way back for the time being.

It is hard to imagine that voters preferred Joe Biden to Trump and his ‘mean tweets’ in 2020, but there we are.

Mid-term elections cannot come soon enough. All being well, Republican control will pave the way for further victory in 2024.

Over the past month, Neil Oliver has had some exceptionally good Saturday night programmes on GB News.

While his shows are a must in my household, for those who haven’t been tuning in, his shows over the past month have contained even more insight than usual.

This video is from February 26, 2022, the week when Russia invaded Ukraine:

Oliver’s editorial begins at the 5:00 point. He rightly wonders what the invasion is really about. He says that he cannot rely on mainstream media to tell the truth.

However, he also discusses the situation in the West and says that we do not realise how exceptional our era of individual liberty and freedom over the past few decades has been.

He points out that we are taking it for granted.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has seen Western governments become authoritarian. He points to Justin Trudeau, who condemns Putin when he himself has had the bank accounts of protesting truckers frozen because they protested against mandatory vaccinations. Oliver says that the sheer hypocrisy of it all is stunning.

He also lambastes the leaders in New Zealand and Australia for authoritarian measures during the pandemic, making the point that, given mankind’s natural inclination towards dictatorial policies, Western leaders are happily following along. Therefore, we need to keep an eye on what they are doing and call them out accordingly.

He says that we need to get serious: stop worrying about identity politics and pronouns. Instead, we have our freedoms to defend.

At the 21:00 point, he interviews a journalist to discuss what is really happening in Ukraine. The journalist said that China is also a player in this situation. Although it looks to most people as if Russia and China are enemies, they have a common goal: to bring down the West.

At the 23:00 mark, welcomes Sebastian Gorka to give his views.

Gorka says that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine would not have happened had Joe Biden not pulled out of Afghanistan last year. He says that President Trump would have managed Afghanistan much differently and that, consequently, the Ukraine invasion would not have happened.

Gorka also brings up energy independence, which Trump initiated in the United States and warned Europe about in 2017. (Everyone laughed. They’re not laughing now.) Gorka said that it was ‘moronic’ for Biden to reverse Trump’s energy policy in the US.

On Biden, I was heartened to see another article in The Telegraph which has been critical of him.

On March 28, the paper’s Nile Gardiner asked, ‘Will Europe finally wake up to the truth about Joe Biden now?’

He writes (emphases mine):

It is amateur hour on the world stage from the Biden Presidency. His visit last week to Europe was a train wreck, from his bizarre press conference in Brussels to the ad-libbed final words of his speech in Warsaw. 

At times Mr. Biden looked dazed and confused, struggling to command his sentences, and drifting into incoherence. The messaging was muddled, forcing even the president’s top officials to disown their own leader’s comments.

In 20 years in Washington, I have not seen a White House more disorganised, incompetent or mismanaged, in both the president’s and vice president’s office. It has a distinctly Monty Python-esque feel to it. Having visited the Trump White House on multiple occasions, and met with the former president several times, I can attest it was a model of efficiency compared to what we’re seeing now.

On no fewer than three separate occasions, Biden’s own staff had to clarify or even refute the words of their commander in chief. Biden officials had to explain to the world’s media that he was not calling for US troops to go into Ukraine, that the United States would not respond to Russia with chemical weapons if Moscow used them, and that the Biden administration was not seeking regime change in Moscow. These are big misstatements, not minor gaffes, with major global ramifications, and a direct impact on the war in Ukraine

There is a major lack of discipline in messaging from the Biden administration, and clearly deep-seated divisions as well among policy staff. Biden himself has been stung by the charge from political opponents that he has been weak over Ukraine, as well as by sinking poll numbers, and is trying to overcompensate with tough rhetoric on Putin. His own aides are trying to rein him in. As a result, confusion reigns

By contrast:

Donald Trump used to come under heavy fire from the French, Germans and European elites at Nato summits, and his message was not always popular. But he was far more effective than Joe Biden at getting results, increasing defence spending, and shaking up the complacent status quo in Europe

True!

As Neil Oliver says, our leaders are not up to scratch.

Furthermore, we, the general public, must also stop being complacent about civil liberties and our Western freedoms. As we saw in the pandemic, our leaders can take them away instantly, without any qualms. Restoring them will take much longer.

Twitter users have posted fantastic videos about the situation in Ukraine, a selection of which follows.

On Tuesday, March 15, 2022, Oleksiy Goncharenko, a member of the Ukrainian parliament posted a short, upbeat video showing a nearly full house. Parliament was very much in session:

It is sad to see history repeat itself. Here are two photos of the opera house in Odessa. The one on the left was taken during the Nazi occupation. They put up the fortifications:

The Scottish Conservatives welcomed a Ukrainian student to their Spring conference in Aberdeen at the end of last week. Her speech (split between the two tweets below) is really inspiring. She certainly loves the United Kingdom:

She also had the opportunity of meeting Boris Johnson and meet with him privately. Well done, Boris:

Speaking of the UK, hats off to a group of London black taxi drivers who took supplies to Warsaw to help the refugee effort. All being well, they will bring back refugees to Britain:

Here they are in Warsaw:

In Slovakia, border guards took time out to play with child refugees:

Back in Ukraine, there has been time for entertainment, whether it’s comedy in Sumy or music in Lviv:

As for Putin, no one wants to shake his hand. This is a short, must-see video:

Prayers continue for Ukraine. Their upbeat attitude is unparalleled in modern times and is truly exemplary.

This week, Mark Steyn visited Ukraine for GB News.

Before we get to those videos, however, here is his broadcast from Thursday, March 10, 2022:

Halfway through is his interview with Harry Kazianis, a defence specialist, who explains why retaliative air strikes are a huge mistake that would lead to World War III. Kazianis said that even if Ukrainian pilots know how to fly certain types of aircraft, that the controls may be laid out differently and the descriptors will be in a foreign language, e.g. Polish. He said that it would take much longer than a day to train Ukrainian pilots to fly them competently. Kazianis ended by pointing out that, in order to be successful, retaliative air strikes would be dependent on Ukrainians destroying Russian combat infrastructure first, which is unlikely, hence his warning about triggering World War III. He concluded:

This is not a video game.

At 47:11, Steyn discusses the oil and gas situation with Thane Gustafson from Georgetown University. He wrote a book called The Bridge, which has an entire chapter devoted to Ukraine. Ukraine was the original supplier of gas in the Soviet Union until it was tapped out. The pipelines are still there. Gustafson says that this has been an underlying source of tension between Ukraine and Russia ever since: ‘a messy divorce’. Russia and some of the ‘stans’ are now members of OPEC, which has decided not to produce more oil in order to keep the price up. Steyn asked about the ‘majors’ pulling out of Russia. Gustafson said that the only company that would be significantly affected would be the French company, Total, which has invested heavily in LNG development in a private sector startup, Novatec. The French do not want to give up this partnership. (Perhaps that’s why Emmanuel Macron has been to see Putin?) Gustafson agreed with Kazianis in that the situation is dangerous and unstable.

Incredibly, Mark Steyn began broadcasting from Ukraine on Tuesday, March 15, Day 20 of the conflict. One side of his family, long gone, came from Odessa on the south coast. Steyn went to a border town near Hungary — in the region of Trans-Carpathia — where he stayed for three days. In this video he explains from his hotel how many people from Kyiv are there. One woman from Kyiv is actually cooking at the establishment. It’s pretty mind blowing:

He tells us about Trans-Carpathia, which he says is the crossroads of history. He shows a beer tap of a Ukrainian beer which is no longer available because Chernihiv, the city where it’s made, has been reduced to rubble. He then goes out on the streets to speak with two Ukrainian men, one of whom translates for Steyn. They tell him that some men in rural districts have been taking home-brewed alcoholic drinks out to the Russian troops. When the troops get drunk and fall asleep, the Ukrainians steal their weapons.

Back at the hotel, Steyn introduces us to Janos, who runs the hotel bar. He shows Steyn a local wine. Janos describes it as ‘vinegar’ and Steyn says ‘wine’. This is significant because the Ukrainian government had banned alcohol consumption at the beginning of the conflict. March 15, the day of the broadcast, was the first day alcohol became legal again. Janos probably didn’t want any trouble with the law, hence his use of the word ‘vinegar’.

After the commercial break, John O’Sullivan, one of Margaret Thatcher’s speechwriters goes on air to give a geopolitical view of what is happening between Ukraine and Russia. At one point he says that Putin is:

a nasty son of a bitch.

In the next segment Steyn discusses the exodus that Ukrainians have made from cities under attack. He says that he has met people from all over Ukraine just in the hotel itself. He tells us about the lady who is running the hotel. Amazingly, she has just escaped from Lviv. The cook has just come in from another city in Ukraine. From that, it would seem that the men who had those roles previously must have gone off to war, and these newcomers are temporary replacements.

After that, Steyn talks with a Polish man who is an authority on the Donbas region. The man is speaking from Norway. Steyn asked him how well the Russians were doing in Donbas. He thinks that the Russian strategy is to surround cities in the east and the south coast. He also said that it is likely that Putin will send in more troops, but probably not right away. It could be in two weeks or even two months:

I’m afraid that this war is going to continue. 

The man had been in Odessa two days before. The port city has always had close links with Russia. However, from what he heard from people there is that they want to stay in Ukraine. He said that he had also travelled elsewhere in the country. Each town has its own defence force, so they are prepared to fight. He said that people have told him they have a duty to stay put and fight for their freedom. He said that he had also heard many anecdotes in the past few days about the cruelty of Russian soldiers.

In the final segment, a Ukrainian journalist from Odessa tells Steyn that if Putin ‘loses it’, he will unleash a massacre on the city, which will serve only to strengthen Ukrainian resolve. Odessa’s port, Steyn says, is still operating. Its exports go to the Middle East and North Africa. The journalist said that those cities that have been taken over thus far were not prepared for the invasion. Therefore, everyone else is prepared now, so the Russians will have less success.

Steyn’s broadcasts from Ukraine continued on March 16:

He said that in Chernihiv, where the aforementioned beer used to be made until Russians destroyed it, troops massacred ten people who were in a queue for bread. This was the day when the theatre in Mariupol was destroyed, with children inside. (When you see aerial photos of the theatre, you see a word painted on the pavement in front and at the rear of the theatre. That word is ‘children’.)

Steyn then introduces us to the woman from Lviv who is running the hotel where he is staying. Before leaving Lviv, the lady told her 13-year-old son to make his way to Poland, then get to Germany where he would find refuge. Understandably, he cried. In the end, he did what his mother asked. She put him in touch with people along the way so that he could communicate by phone with them for the next stage of his journey. He did end up in Germany and Steyn showed us a clip of him on television there.

How did this happen? The woman’s sister is a television presenter in Ukraine. She got in touch with contacts in Germany, hence the boy’s appearance on a German channel. Thanks to his aunt, he has also been on Ukrainian television. That was a few years ago, when he conducted an interview of his own at the age of nine. He had taken a broadcasting course for children. We see a clip of the interview. The child has a future in broadcasting for sure. He was incredibly professional and poised.

Britain’s Lt Gen Jonathon Riley was the next interviewee, speaking from his home. There is a large Russian naval presence off Odessa at present. So far, Riley said, it has not been used. He said that there are other military formations that we have not yet seen. He said that destroying Odessa and Kyiv would be important for Russia. Riley said that it was unusual for Russian generals to be killed; four had met their death at that point. He said they have had to go to the front line in order to get their troops to fight. Morale is bad. Ukrainian troops currently outnumber the Russians.

Steyn then talked with an English teacher from Kyiv. It took her three days to reach the town Steyn was in. She has no plans to leave Ukraine and is looking forward to returning to Kyiv, where her friends are taking care of her cat. Pets figure hugely in Steyn’s interviews with Ukrainians; the mother of the 13-year-old said that she made arrangements for her pets to be cared for in her absence. More of these stories followed on Thursday.

Steyn then spoke with Dennis, who is also from Kyiv. He got a call from his mother early in the morning when the conflict started. He didn’t believe her, so checked online for confirmation. He did not expect the conflict because:

this is 2022.

Dennis is in the quarrying business and exports Ukrainian granite to Asia. His quarry is in one of the hot spots. He tried work in the early days of the conflict but got too distracted.

Lord Black — Conrad Black — was the last guest. He said that the Americans might send sophisticated drones to Ukraine, which he thinks would be most helpful in attacking Russian vehicles. Black does not foresee nuclear war.

The last video is from Thursday, March 17, day 22 of the conflict:

Steyn opened with thoughts on the four — possibly five — Russian generals who have been killed so far. That is either 20 per cent or 25 per cent of all of Russia’s generals:

That is extraordinary.

He talks about the thousands of troops killed so far, which also struck him as extraordinary.

Putin is out to terrorise Ukrainians, but it isn’t working. Steyn says that these attacks are only causing people to display more

cold hard contempt

for Putin.

Steyn then went out on the streets of the town where he is staying. One couple who live near Kyiv were on holiday when the conflict started. How inconvenient! Their children are staying with family. Her father is at home with four dogs. She says that it is important to stay in Ukraine. She does not know how long the conflict will last.

While the woman is talking, the street is abuzz with people. One woman nonchalantly carries a pastry box back home. Everyone is walking around, shopping, chatting. Then again, that part of Ukraine is not under attack, but one must admire their sang froid nonetheless.

Inna Sovsun, a former Ukrainian education minister talks to Steyn from her home. She is positive about the conflict so far, except for the air strikes, such as the one over the theatre in Mariupol. They discussed how unusual it is for so many civilian targets to be attacked. She said there is a big morale problem. Russian soldiers take all the alcohol they can find off supermarket shelves so that they can drink. Steyn said that he heard Russian soldiers are literally shooting themselves in the foot so they can be sent home injured. Inna Sovsun confirmed that story.

Steyn returned to the street where he was before and pointed out how normal everything seemed. However, he said that most of the people were not from that town, rather it was the place they are living in for the time being, having left their homes elsewhere. He talked to a man from Kyiv who is there with his family. They arrived two weeks ago. Incredibly upbeat, he said he is looking forward to returning to Kyiv to restore their house once the conflict is over. He thinks that Russia will be finished by the time this is over. He ended with this:

We are freedom country. We can live without Putin and Russia. 

From his hotel, Steyn told us about the Ukrainian who was driving down an isolated street when he saw a Russian armoured vehicle. He stopped the car, got out and put his hands up. The Russians shot him dead.

Steyn then interviewed an Orthodox priest, Joel Sterling Brown, an American who was assigned to a parish in Ukraine and married a local girl. He has been married and living the Ukrainian life for several years now. He loves it. He is currently aiding in the refugee effort. It seems he has turned his church hall into a refugee centre. He takes in 300 to 500 people a day. He said they spend the night and leave the next day to go to their final destination. They come from all over Ukraine. They tell him they’ll return home one day:

We’ll be back when we win.

He said he will stay, because, if he leaves, what message would it send about his faith?

Back on the street, Steyn interviewed a young woman who was with her mother and sister. She said that relatives are minding her flat in another city — along with her cat, even though they have brought their dogs with them. She and her sister said that they were not Russian and wanted Ukraine to stay as it is. She said:

Okay, Crimea is gone, but just leave the rest of us alive.

Mark Steyn said on Tuesday that he hoped to be able to see more of the country, because it might be his only opportunity to do so. Even if he didn’t get to Odessa, where his ancestors were from, at least he got to see Ukraine and meet a lot of the people there.

I admire the Ukrainians. The West has a lot to learn from watching these displaced persons who are acting so normally.

They are handling their plight perfectly.

No one is crying.

Everyone is upbeat.

May God continue to watch over them.

On Tuesday, March 8, 2022, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made British history by becoming the first world leader to address Britain’s Parliament in the House of Commons, with members of the House of Lords in the public gallery.

Zelenskyy’s video address was remote. He ran through a brief daily diary of what happened on each day of the conflict thus far. He also quoted Shakespeare and Churchill. He also appeared to ask for a no-fly zone, which Britain rightly opposes.

Not surprisingly, the former actor earned a standing ovation and a huge round of applause. Applause is normally taboo in Parliament, but extraordinary times call for extraordinary gestures.

Guido Fawkes was quick to direct readers to The Sun‘s live link to the address, which took place at 5:05 p.m. that day:

Here is the full address:

Speaker of the House Sir Lindsay Hoyle posted the address on Twitter:

GB News has the highlights (emphases mine throughout, except for Guido Fawkes’s post):

Addressing the House of Commons via video link, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said “we do not want to lose what we have, what is ours, our country Ukraine”.

According to the English language translation on Parliament TV, Mr Zelensky said: “Mr Speaker, all the Members of Parliament, ladies and gentlemen, I am addressing all the people of the United Kingdom and all the people from the country with a big history.

“I am addressing you as a citizen, as a president, of also a big country, with a dream and big effort.

“I would like to tell you about the 13 days of war, the war that we didn’t start and we didn’t want. However we have to conduct this war, we do not want to lose what we have, what is ours, our country Ukraine.”

Invoking Britain’s wartime leader Winston Chruchill, Mr Zelenskyy told MPs: “We will not give up and we will not lose. We will fight to the end, at sea, in the air, we will continue fighting for our land whatever the cost.

“We will fight in the forest, in the field, in the shores, in the streets.

“I would like to add that we will fight on the banks of different rivers… and we are looking for the help of the civilised countries.”

Concluding his speech to the Commons, Volodymyr Zelensky thanked Boris Johnson by name and called on the UK for more support.

Speaking through a translator provided by Parliament TV, he said: “We are looking for your help, for the help of Western counties.

“We are thankful for this help and I am grateful to you, Boris.

“Please increase the pressure of sanctions against this country (Russia) and please recognise this country as a terrorist country.

“Please make sure sure that our Ukrainian skies are safe.

“Please make sure that you do what needs to be done and what is stipulated by the greatness of your country.

“Glory to Ukraine and glory to the United Kingdom.”

The Times‘s Quentin Letts wrote a parliamentary sketch, complete with photos, about the atmosphere in the Commons when ‘the Honourable Member for Kyiv’ spoke:

Not all of us were given earphones to listen to the simultaneous translation of President Zelensky’s speech to the Commons. Didn’t matter. Instead of following what he said, one could see how he said it and the impact it had on a hushed house. There would be time afterwards to read the content. Some words, anyway, need no translation. “Bombe”. He kept saying it. “Bombe, bombe, bombe”, metronomic and deadly. And we all surely now had enough Ukrainian to comprehend Zelensky’s husky, closing words, “glory to Ukraine, glory to Britain”.

This dispatch from the jaws of hell, in the gathering gloaming of a March afternoon, knocked his audience for six.

One Labour MP afterwards reckoned Zelensky was the leader of the western world. At what a cost. The applause when his unshaven, weary face first appeared on the two overhead television screens (erected for the occasion) was almost martial in its ferocity. The chamber’s galleries were packed with members of the House of Lords. Hundreds of ’em!

Never before in our long parliamentary history, noted Boris Johnson, had there been a moment like it. Foreign leaders sometimes get to speak to assembled parliamentarians in Westminster Hall or in a gallery at the Lords. Never do their words smack home like those of the Hon Member for Kyiv Central. He had been given a chance to enter the very cockpit of our legislature. The fact that he was doing so live from a capital city under mortal threat from Russian rockets lent the moment extraordinary force.

“You have the floor, president,” said Speaker Hoyle. Thus it began: a worn, almost croaky delivery, delivered from behind a desk with his flag at his side, its silks a contrast to the drabness of his khaki T-shirt. In Ukraine, an exhausted but defiant statesman was fighting for his people. In Moscow his enemy was no doubt cackling in scorn.

Johnson frowned sombrely on the front bench as he listened through his headset to the urgent words. Occasionally the PM growled and nodded in agreement with what Zelensky was saying. There was a ripple of approval when he invoked Shakespeare. Ukrainians faced a question: to be or not to be. They were opting for the former …

there was something tremendously affirming about this short occasion. “I want to express the solidarity of the House of Commons with you,” said Hoyle afterwards, and there was a unified shout of agreement from the chamber and its galleries.

The Mail‘s Jan Moir was equally effusive. Admittedly, it was a moving, short address:

What an incredible, historic, electrifying moment of unity inside the House of Commons. 

No foreign leader has ever addressed MPs in the chamber before, yet here was President Volodymyr Zelensky being punched in from Kyiv straight into the heart of Parliament on specially installed screens.

A full house of MPs, many of them wearing Ukrainian ribbons, gave him a standing ovation before he uttered a single word.

Speaker Lindsay Hoyle, who welcomed the president, was even wearing a striped blue and yellow tie of solidarity; neatly knotted, deeply touching …

Mr Zelensky seized Churchill’s soaring rhetoric of wartime defiance to illustrate the resolve of his country and his people …

Who could have imagined that here in the seat of our democracy, where those very words were first spoken just over 80 years ago, that a European leader would be using them again in deadly seriousness?

Two weeks ago it seemed inconceivable, now here we are …

The president’s manner and voice were forthright and composed as he detailed the evil that has befallen Ukraine, but his briskness was not intended to dilute the horror, quite the opposite.

No MP could have been left unmoved when he talked of ‘the children who have been killed, the children who could have lived, but were taken away from us’.

Mr Zelensky gave his address sitting behind a desk. As usual he was simply dressed in an olive green T-shirt; perhaps part of a combat outfit, perhaps not.

He wears no insignia, no medals, none of the terrible pomp of war.

‘I’m one of you,’ is what these clothes say to his countrymen, to our MPs – and to us.

‘We are looking for your help, the help of civilised countries,’ was his simple, powerful entreaty to the Commons yesterday.

Let us hope we do not let him down. 

Interestingly, Ukranians are very pro-Boris. After their own leader, Prime Minister Boris Johnson comes second in popularity:

Guido’s post says that the UK is also Ukraine’s most popular ally. Excellent news:

The poll conducted by US outlet Cyngnal finds Boris’s net approval rating in Ukraine is second only to that of Zelenskyys, and is well ahead of Biden and Sholtz.

    1. Zelenskyy: +79%
    2. Boris: +49.6%
    3. Biden: +25.8%
    4. Scholz: +23.4%
    5. Xi Jinping: -19.4%
    6. Putin: -86.7%

The UK also stands as the most popular ally in all this, 14 points ahead of the EU and 23 points ahead of the US:

    1. 🇬🇧: 56%
    2. 🇪🇺: 42.2%
    3. 🇺🇸: 33.3%
    4. Nato: -16.8%

Guido asks:

will Boris be the new baby name de jour of Ukraine when all this is over?

The day before Zelenskyy’s address, his brave men managed to halt a Russian takeover of Kyiv. However, the day after, March 9, Russians destroyed a maternity hospital in Mariupol, on the south coast. The ports there are Putin’s focus.

Last week, I heard a commentator on television say that Putin might adopt Stalin’s practice of using cannon fodder for the opening days of the conflict before bringing in specialist troops and armaments. That sounds about right.

When Zelenskyy was elected to Ukraine’s top job in 2019, we all thought he was going to root out endemic corruption in his homeland.

This thread from April 23, 2019, two days after his election, has more on the man and his mission. It also lists the Democrats who were involved with the corruption of Zelenskyy’s predecessor. It’s an interesting read, albeit a bit optimistic at the time.

Readers living in the UK and Ireland might wish to view the enormously popular television series that Zelenskyy starred in: Servant of the People, which is on Channel 4’s All 4. The first three episodes are available now.

Incidentally, Zelenskyy named his political party after the show.

The Times has a review of the series, noting how life imitates art. They gave it four stars:

It feels grotesquely surreal writing a review of Volodymyr Zelensky’s sitcom Servant of the People at the very moment he is fighting for the survival of his country and fending off Vladimir Putin’s assassination attempts (three so far and counting).

It makes it almost unbearable to watch this personable, talented, charismatic man, whose very facial expressions and posture are comedic, knowing the hell he and his people are enduring. Just as it is heartbreakingly poignant to see his character Vasyl Petrovych Holoborodko, a history teacher, cycling around sunny, bustling Kyiv, its people going freely about their business, with Ukraine’s buildings still intact.

No less surreal is watching how life spectacularly imitates art. Servant of the People is about an ordinary man who accidentally becomes president of Ukraine when one of his history pupils secretly videos his rant about corrupt politicians, their pay, “their corteges and their summer homes” (anyone in particular this might relate to?) becomes so popular it goes viral. “We’re choosing between two bastards!” he rails …

it is good that Channel 4 has decided to broadcast the series, with subtitles, from Sunday, partly because it will increase Zelensky’s popularity even further, which will annoy Putin, and partly because it is very good. Zelensky has, as they say, funny bones and the premise is a droll way to satirise the absurdity and degeneracy of politics.

As a humble teacher still living with his parents in a flat, wearing a white vest and struggling to pay his loans, Vasyl had little respect from anyone. He faces the sack for his rant. But the second he becomes president the entire country fawns, the bank mysteriously writes off his debts and his adviser offers him a watch “like Putin wears”.

The second episode also features a rather good Putin lookalike, so the surreal moments just keep rolling in. You may not feel much in the mood for comedy but it really is worth watching. Not least because it reminds, in fiction and fact, that “non-politicians” can make great leaders.

I could not agree more.

We had another ‘non-politician’ who was a great leader on the world stage not so long ago; unfortunately, The Times didn’t seem too taken with him.

I haven’t watched Servant of the People yet but intend to do so soon.

Meanwhile, let’s keep Ukraine in our thoughts and prayers. Our Lord said that faith the size of a mustard seed can move a mountain and that nothing is impossible (Matthew 17:20). Who are we to doubt Him?

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