It was only ever a matter of time. Alongside his efforts at strangling Ukraine, the Kremlin crackpot’s been choking off the West’s energy supplies. Upshot, for us, a very nasty kick in the pockets. But, as our Political Correspondent Peter Spencer reports, Tory leadership contender Liz Truss may yet turn it to her advantage.
‘Never let a good crisis go to waste.’ So said Winston Churchill as he set about getting the United Nations up and running after World War Two.
And Truss seems to be having her own little crack at the same thing, just as the Bank of England’s telling us we’re in deep doodoo.
They’ve bunged up the cost of borrowing money to a level not seen for fourteen years, to try and hold back price rises, now heading for the highest for almost half a century.
Talk about a double whammy. Can’t someone do something? Like shaving a bit off our tax bills? Every little helps, as the slogan goes.
Step forward fizz-with-Liz Truss, with an overflowing spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down.
As well as trimming taxes, she’s promising to splash out on loads of goodies. Shaking eighty billion smackers out of the magic money tree.
According to a great many experts this defies the laws of economic gravity.
Her rival, former Chancellor Rishi Sunak couldn’t agree more. Which is why his Christmas stocking’s little over a third as big.
This Mr Sensible pitch won over a majority of Tory party members in the audience at a joint grilling staged by Sky News last week.
But her Mrs What-The-Hell approach clearly appeals far more to the wider pool of this contest’s tiny electorate, as almost all polls put her a good thirty points ahead.
It seems they rather get off on her Boris Johnson-style boosterism. In fact a large slice of them clearly wish he was in a position to give them more of the same.
The small print of the surveys that put Truss so far in front reveals that more than half of those asked think Sunak shouldn’t have ratted on his one-time boss.
And as his star’s waned from winner to wannabe, it’s looking like those vying for top jobs in September’s new look government are taking the hint.
People like Sajid Javid, who deserted Johnson’s sinking ship at almost the same instant as Sunak, and who’s always been absolutely on his side about not overspending.
Suddenly … he’s morphed into a true Trussite. Calls to mind a damning line about a ruthless cabinet cull by one-time Tory PM Harold Macmillan.
‘Greater love hath no man than this: that he lay down his friends for his life.’
Still, it’s just possible the Sky News session might have changed a few minds. And at least Tory members have, perforce, a bit more time to think about it.
This thanks to fears raised by spooks that not very nice people could skew the result by tampering with the process of online voting.
It’s meant delays to sending out the ballot papers. Giving Truss more time to truss herself up in gung-ho promises that don’t bear closer scrutiny.
Case in point, her regional pay boards whoops-a-daisy wheeze. Abandoned after someone spotted it would leave loads of teachers and nurses out of pocket.
But what the hell? The new PM will have a lot of say in our lives. But hardly any of us have any say in who that person will be.
It’s a weird old world.
Also, rather a scary one, judging by what’s been happening in China’s neck of the woods.
Ever since the losing side in that country’s civil war of seventy years ago took off to the nearby island of Taiwan, the commies have wanted it back.
And the Beijing government really really didn’t like it when top American lawmaker Nancy Pelosi dropped by there last week.
Though they didn’t actually blow the woman sky-high they did let off loads of whiz-bangs in the waters all around the place.
These so-called ‘naval exercises’ felt like a disturbing echo of Putin’s ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine.
For sure the Pelosi presence was a predictably red rag to the red bull. But the incident did smack of yet more muscle-flexing by horrid people who don’t like us.
The question that’s exercising commentators of every stripe is – should we just keep out of their way? Or should we square up to them, like in the three billy-goats gruff.
‘Well, come along! I’ve got two spears, and I’ll poke your eyeballs out at your ears. I’ve got besides two curling-stones, and I’ll crush you to bits, body and bones.’
All that certainly wowed generations of kids. A bit more complicated when the stinky troll happens to have loads of nukes.
But, as this column has no wish to get everyone jumping off a cliff, here’s a reminder: We are in the holiday season.
At such times not all that much happens, but newspapers and media websites don’t shrink accordingly. So they all resort to the old hacks’ axiom.
‘If it bleeds, it leads.’
And, proof that the silly season is well upon us, the Loch Ness Monster’s put in an appearance.
There’s plenty of well documented evidence that some kind of extremely rare animal’s flipping about the place, but none really to suggest it actually could be a plesiosaur.
None, that is, until now.
The ancient anomaly theory’s always been comprehensively debunked on the grounds that they only ever lived in sea water.
But boffins at Bath uni have stumbled upon fossils of the creatures in a hundred-million-year-old river system in the Sahara, suggesting they did live in freshwater.
Bad news for their human contemporaries, according to the report’s co-author Prof Dave Martill. As he put it:
‘This was no place to go for a swim.’
There’s no disputing that staying alive, preferably for a nice long time, is a Good Thing. But how to do it? For expert guidance, cue a couple of helpfully loquacious ladies.
Thelma and Elma, Barratt and Harris respectively, are believed to be Britain’s oldest twins. And they’ve just enjoyed their hundred-and-third birthday bash.
On such occasions the question of how they’ve managed such long lives is predictable enough. Less so their answers.
A love of food, says Thelma. But that’s not all, adds Elma. You need a bedtime tipple to tip the balance.
Brandy and lemonade, natch. Oh, and btw, it must be served in a proper brandy balloon. And, please, no ice, thank you very much.
Details? You have to get them right.
Watch Peter’s report HERE.
Peter Spencer has 40 years experience as a Political Correspondent in Westminster, working with London Broadcasting and Sky News. For more of his fascinating musings on the turbulent political landscape, follow him on Facebook & Twitter.
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