What a difference the years make

Friday, 7th January

• LEARNING to live with a virus (influenza, Covid-19) without wrecking the economy or removing people’s freedoms.

— “Levelling up” agenda by reducing regional inequalities, boosting left-behind regions, spreading opportunity beyond the south east via a new system of local government with directly-elected leaders taking responsibility for their own areas. Would this narrow the gap?

— Overhauling house-building system, in designated areas or focusing on social housing, or expanding access to credit, or homeowners voting whether their neighbourhood should be allowed to build more.

— Controlling the media output (BBC in 1920s; Online Harms Bill 2022); both protecting citizens from “harmful content”.

— Dealing with import complications from Britain to Northern Ireland. Growing trade friction with the rest of Europe as trade with the continent has slumped. Northern Ireland Protocol row threatens existence of the union; growth in support for Sinn Fein as most popular party (+ possible Scottish independence).

— Can there be a future Labour government, after local government elections as the first test of whether they translate into UK-wide results?

— Baldwin v MacDonald; Johnson v Starmer. Depends on backbenchers and what the Labour Party “stands for”, via a manifesto removing left-wing policies or risking a backlash from Labour activists.

— Liberals 1922 / Lib-Dems 2022 – desperate to keep in the spotlight with few MPs.

— Rising energy and fuel prices and cost of living, and worries about pensions.

— Anti-democratic populists exploiting patriotism. Authoritarians v moderates in Russia, China, USA etc.

— Immigration and border security issues for the UK.

— Is freedom to protest within the law a fundamental right? Is public order legislation out-of-date?

— The nation-state as the primary focus of communal loyalty; demands for self-determination or British exceptionalism?

— Government incompetence and inability to fulfil economic promises.

— Escape political follies by demonising minorities and cooking up “culture wars”.

St George’s Fields, W2

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