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Missing in Action: The British Public is Being Asked to Bail Out its Own Government

From climate change to the cost of living, ordinary people are being forced to compensate for an administration in paralysis, says Lisa Young

Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaving Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Photo: Andrew Parsons / 10 Downing Street

Missing in ActionThe British Public is Being Asked to Bail Out its Own Government

From climate change to the cost of living, ordinary people are being forced to compensate for an administration in paralysis, says Lisa Young

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Where is this man who professes to have “got all the big calls right”? The country is in a cost of living crisis, energy bills are rising to stratospheric new heights, inflation is surging, the NHS is terminally sick, housing is unaffordable for many, the country is in drought and sewage is flooding rivers and gushing into seas. The country is desperately in need of some ‘big calls’. 

Alas, no. The erstwhile Prime Minister has been partying and holidaying his summer away. Like a toddler who’s lost the tussle for a toy so breaks it out of rage, Boris Johnson appears to believe that if he can’t be the head of a functioning government, then none of us can have one.

Parliament is enjoying its two-and-a-half-month recess, but the country does not empty of the public when MPs desert Westminster. 

People are having to deal daily with a relentless onslaught of threats to their health, work and families while both Parliament and Number 10 are vacant.

The ‘big calls’ have been left to the small people to make. Regular folk across the country are doing more than their leaders to address the seismic issues that they face. The real action is coming from the ruled, not the rulers.

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As the cost of living crisis bites, leaving families hungry, people are creating and manning food banks, while well-off shoppers are donating spare items to this last line of defence – helping families they don’t know.

Others are paring down their shopping bills with desperate precision and many are forgoing meals to allow their children to eat better. Or at all.

On Friday, the rise in the UK energy cap is expected to be confirmed at £3,533 a year, an 80% increase. Shareholders of big energy companies have been awarded billions of pounds in dividends, businesses are going bust, yet the Government has not acted for months. 

It is left to the public to make what small changes they can to reduce the amount of power used, in a doomed attempt to reduce bills. Food banks are now refusing donations of jacket potatoes. A filling, healthy 20p staple has become too expensive to cook. 

AWOL Administration

It is government ministers who receive the glory of set-piece climate summits, yet it’s ordinary people who are judiciously washing the very last smears of mayonnaise from their bottles, dutifully flat-packing cardboard boxes and heaving their glass bottles to the kerb for recycling. 

We’re accepting of paper straws even as they seal themselves on first contact with liquid and we are developing squints from reading the small print to check that ingredients are sustainable. In the global scheme of things, these are tiny and necessary actions – that are currently a substitute for meaningful administrative reform.

Teenagers are camping in their garden, not to raise money for new goalposts for their football club, but for the National Health Service. After sentencing the health service to a thousand cuts, the billions of pounds wasted on crony contracts represents bitter salt in our collective wounds. Our Government has now carried out a hit and run, leaving the NHS on life support.

This Septic Isle

Brexit is compounding, not relieving, the UK’s slurry of economic and environmental problems, says Rachel Morris

So what next? Vying to be the new prime minister, we have Rishi Sunak who proposes strict measures for people ‘vilifying’ the UK. He who retained his green card even while chancellor and neglected to say so. It seems Liz Truss could be accused of such vilification since she’s pronounced British workers to lack “graft”.

Similarly, the likely winner has trained her sights on civil servants, branding them ‘woke’. The public is staring down the barrel of financial disaster; people really don’t care about woke-back mountain, the hill that Truss appears to be willing to die on.

As members of society, we can only effect small change with our actions in the face of immense, national (and even international) problems, but our leaders can make enormous differences. It’s not that they are fiddling while Rome burns; they’re not even lifting a finger. 

What the country desperately and urgently needs is an effective government. It needs action and it needs it now.

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