After Tories’ turbulent year, we need new leaders with Queen Elizabeth's work ethic – Christine Jardine

The country is still suffering the effects of Liz Truss’s short but disastrous spell as Prime Minister

Harold Wilson once said that a week is a long time in politics, so he would undoubtedly have shared the widespread fascination at the significance of the past year in British politics and society. A year ago, what would be the shortest term in office of any British Prime Minister had just begun, while the nation came to terms with the loss of the longest-serving and, for many, most admired, monarch in our history.

While the first, indeed most, moments of Liz Truss’s tenure are not ones I shall cherish, the realisation we were entering the last few hours of the Elizabethan Age are etched on my mind. Just thinking of them evokes all the emotion of remembering those we have lost.

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Sitting on the Commons’ green benches, it gradually became clear to those of us in the chamber what was happening. The snatched conversations with an increasingly concerned-looking speaker, the notes passed across the despatch box and hushed conversation swirling around us all clarified a thought we did not want to have. The news from Balmoral was not good.

Twelve months on, that day’s massive significance in British history, and the popular swelling of emotion for the only monarch most of us had known has now largely given way to admiration for the seamless passing of the baton to King Charles. It is the other event of that week, the installation of HM Queen Elizabeth’s final Prime Minister which has left an indelible stain on so many lives.

Much has been written about the mistaken policies, the crashed economy, the long-term effect on interest rates and the mortgage pain for which those 49 days in office are largely held responsible. Then there is the damage that has been done to the Conservatives’ reputation.

Returning to parliament last week, they were again top of the agenda and centre of every debate, of course. Sitting in almost exactly the same spot that I had been a year earlier, I could not help but wonder if perhaps it’s time to move on.

We had before us on Tuesday, an Energy Bill which sought to set us further down the path towards a greener more sustainable and carbon-free economy. I don’t support a lot of this government’s vision but there were two moments which I feel should give us all hope.

An amendment I had signed calling for support for Sustainable Aviation Fuel had persuaded the government to include measures in the bill. It is not as quick as we wanted but the move towards removing highly polluting fuels from the air above my constituency, Edinburgh West, is encouraging.

So too was the commitment I secured from energy minister Andrew Bowie that he is considering reform of the unfair electricity standing charges which currently mean that Edinburgh pays more than many other parts of the country. There’s a job to be done repairing the damage of the past few years, and sometime in the next 12 months, the public will have the chance to decide which politicians will carry that responsibility.

In the meantime, we should look to the example of our most recently passed and our current monarch. Get on with the job, fulfil our duty and serve the country.

Christine Jardine is the Scottish Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West



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