Tory leadership contest: Boris Johnson's replacement must engage with reality, not simply rely on rhetoric – Scotsman comment
It found that 75 per cent of the British public were trusting of most other people, higher than the average for the OECD countries who took part in the study. However, just 35 per cent were prepared to say the same about the UK Government, a figure lower than the OECD average of 41 per cent.
So it is probably fair to say that many of those outside the Conservative party looking at the contest to find a replacement Prime Minister will wish a plague on all their houses.
With the country facing a cost-of-living crisis that is already unprecedented in modern times and is set to get dramatically worse when energy bills rise again in the autumn, the over-riding theme has been tax cuts.
As economist John McLaren points out in The Scotsman today, the Office for Budget Responsibility has warned that while tax cuts might boost growth, they would not do so by enough to pay for themselves. So reducing taxation would necessarily mean public spending cuts – or even more borrowing – at a time when helping the poorest people through what is shaping up to be a terrible winter is a moral imperative.
The fight against climate change, meanwhile, has largely been absent from the debate, mentioned mostly by misguided candidates who appear to think it can be ditched.
While the leadership contest involves Tory candidates talking to a Tory audience about Tory things, failing to stress the importance of the greatest issues facing the country is a mistake for anyone thinking seriously about real leadership.
To their credit, Rishi Sunak has sensibly warned tax cuts can only happen after public finances improve and Penny Mordaunt has promised a “relentless focus on cost-of-living issues”. In this battle of rhetoric, their words seem to closer reflect the reality facing the UK.
If trust in our government, so damaged by Johnson, is to be restored, the next Prime Minister needs to be someone prepared to meet the growing crisis head on and work hard to combat it, rather than seeking refuge in glib remarks, self-congratulation and partisan bluster.
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