What you need to know:
- Truss has inherited a country in crisis. Key issues in her in-tray include huge increases in the cost of living and soaring energy bills.
- With everyone’s annual energy bill set to rise by 80 per cent next month, there are fears that non-payment could result in vulnerable people being admitted to hospitals.
- With inflation set to reach 13 per cent, the mood of workers is one of anger and aggression.
The inevitable duly happened last week and the Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, was proclaimed leader of the ruling Conservative party and thus Prime Minister in succession to Boris Johnson, who resigned after a series of scandals.
Truss won the votes of 57 per cent of party members against 42 per cent for the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak. In doing so, she inherited a country in crisis.
Key issues in her in-tray include huge increases in the cost of living and soaring energy bills, the war in Ukraine and the uncertainty of gas supplies, the parlous state of the National Health Service and ever-rising immigration figures.
In many cases, these problems are linked. With everyone’s annual energy bill set to rise by 80 per cent next month, there are fears that non-payment could result in vulnerable people being admitted to hospitals, which are already backlogged by waiting patients.
Ms Samantha Allen, a senior North East NHS executive, said, “We are starting to see examples where clinically vulnerable people who are reliant on electrical devices for their survival have been disconnected from their home energy supply, which has then led to hospital admission.”
One example of this, she said, was the reliance of some sick people on oxygen at home. There was a similar concern for people with mental health problems.
Ms Allen called for measures to ensure vulnerable people did not have their energy supplies disconnected.
With inflation set to reach 13 per cent, according to the Bank of England, and wages failing to keep pace, according to the labour unions, the mood of workers is one of anger and aggression.
Strikes have recently taken place by railway workers, postmen, council workers who refused to empty garbage bins, airport baggage handlers, dock workers, and even barristers.
One problem simmering in the background for Prime Minister Truss is that of asylum-seekers, refugees and people seeking stability and safety in the UK.
The number crossing the English Channel in small boats from France is rising steeply. The total last year was triple the figure for 2020, that is, 28,431 against 8,417. That record figure seems likely to be overtaken in 2022, with a figure of 25,146 by mid-August.
Britain’s problems may seem trivial to Kenyans suffering from four failed rainy seasons, or to Pakistanis, whose country is drowning in water. But when it comes to putting food on the table and providing warmth for the home, the pain has no boundaries.
* * *
When small children don’t want to hear something, they put their hands over their ears and go “naa, naa, naa.”
The adult equivalent, it seems, is to send abusive messages online to whoever has upset them.
According to leading figures in the broadcast industry, weather forecasters on TV and radio received unprecedented levels of trolling during the UK’s recent bout of extreme heat.
Meteorologist Matt Taylor said the BBC’s team received hundreds of abusive tweets or emails, far worse than he had experienced in 25 years.
Most of the abuse came when forecasters linked extreme weather to climate change. Messages accused the weathermen of lying or being blackmailed or simply being “snowflakes” (softies).
Many said about the July heatwave, “It’s just summer,” and claimed 2022 was “no different” to a famous heatwave in 1976.
This was one area where the climate-change deniers certainly got it wrong. The peak temperature in the UK in1976 was 35.9C, more than four degrees lower than the 40.3C recorded on July 19 this year.
Maybe like the kiddies, these people believe if they say “naa, naa, naa” often enough and loud enough, there will be no such thing as melting glaciers, rising sea levels or drowning villages.
* * *
The business of business…
Employer to job-seeker: “I’ll give you £10 an hour and in three months, I’ll raise it to £13. So when would you like to start?” Job-seeker: “In three months.”
The boss arrived at work in a brand new Lamborghini. I said, “Wow, that’s an amazing car.” He said, “It is, and if you work hard, put in all your hours, and maybe a few extra, and strive for excellence, I’ll get another one next year.”
I fly often on business. At the airport yesterday, I had three bags to check in. I said, “This one is to go to Exeter, this one to Birmingham and this one to Glasgow.”
The airport worker said, “Sir, we cannot do that.” “Why not?” I asked. “You did it last week.”
Worried about bad relations between management and workers, the founder of a company brought the two sides together and asked them to state their concerns on a flip chart.
A worker concerned about constant interference by staff took the pen and wrote “nitpicking.” An office manager got to his feet immediately: “Shouldn’t there be a hyphen between nit and picking?” he demanded.