If I had to choose just one article from last week’s issue for every reader (and Labour MP and prospective parliamentary candidate), it is Will Dunn’s review of Aeron Davis’s The Inside History of the Treasury (The Critics, 28 October).
The truth for Labour (now with an ex-Treasury insider, Rachel Reeves, as shadow chancellor) is that, after the monetarism dogma seized UK economic policymaking in the 1980s, it was Gordon Brown and Ed Balls who made monetarism the universal wisdom of our age. This was underpinned by Brown handing over monetary policy to the Bank of England (in the guise of the technocrats of the Monetary Policy Committee) and culminating in his self-proclaimed triumph of rescuing the vainglorious international financial system from the asset bubbles he (with the US) had presided over, and our domestic banks from any accountability.
We live still with this terrible legacy, including vast asset inflation through quantitative easing. There remains no sign of Labour ever facing up to and learning from its share in creating this inversion of social democracy.
John Crawley, Beverley, East Yorkshire
The multifaceted Mr Sunak
Andrew Marr’s piece (Politics, 28 October) was insightful but I was fascinated to read that the Prime Minister claims to have strong environmental views. His voting record in parliament suggests otherwise. And is this the same Rishi Sunak who, in the run-up to Cop26, removed air passenger duty from some domestic flights? The same Rishi Sunak who, in one of the Tory leadership debates, said that the solution to climate change was more recycling? It’s a great relief to know that his environmental views are so strong. Heaven only knows what he’d do, or not do, if they weren’t.
Margaret Lowndes, Askrigg, North Yorkshire
Rishi Sunak’s rise to the premiership (Politics, 28 October) is a significant moment for all minority communities. Sunak’s parents are of East African Indian origin, and while Britain has a wonderful record of welcoming migrant groups, their story was complicated. The arrival of migrant groups often prompted a backlash and episodes of discrimination. Typically, minority communities have valued education and encouraged their children to become entrepreneurs and professionals, or even aspire to the highest office in the land.
Dr Peter Chadha and Zaki Cooper, co-chairs of the British Indian-Jewish Association
Andrew Marr suggests that a “key question” about Sunak is: which has been “the bigger professional influence on him”, working for banks and hedge funds, or the apparent compassion shown during the pandemic? But there can be little doubt about the answer. Around the same time that Sunak was taking £20 a week from Universal Credit, he was also cutting banks’ corporation tax. Now, when banks are reporting record profits, almost entirely due to interest rate rises, it seems unlikely he will make them pay towards a proper funding of our public services, any more than he has made oil and gas companies contribute during the energy crisis.
Bernie Evans, Liverpool
The case for an election
I read your editorial (Leader, 28 October) with interest and agreement. There is a real case for a general election. I think that even Conservative MPs would welcome this cathartic event – even if it means many of them lose their jobs – if it stops this ongoing decline and decimation of trust among the general public.
Judith A Daniels, Cobholm, Norfolk
Less doom and gloom
Seeing the headline “The long road to pauperdom” (State of Disorder, 28 October) I was expecting John Gray’s usual negative commentary – what a delight to find him arguing in favour of proportional representation. Making every vote count would encourage many more citizens to participate, and transform British politics.
Keith Dugmore, London SW1
John Gray’s essay was the standout in an issue so good i read it twice. Nothing short of radical reform can save our country from decline. The Conservative government is tired, and is devoid of talent and ideas, while Labour doesn’t appear to have any radical plans for reform either, unless it is hiding them for fear of the media. This suggests we need a consensus government of differing ideas: liberal, green, socialist, and even libertarianism.
If Labour can’t be radical it should, at least, reform Westminster.
Peter Warwick, Carshalton, Greater London
John Gray couldn’t be more wrong when he dismisses the Green New Deal as “fashionable chatter” that will have no appeal to Red Wall or other constituencies. The Green New Deal group has detailed how a huge energy-saving programme could be organised for the UK’s 30 million buildings, providing long-term, well-paid jobs in every town. The funding would come from a new green quantitative easing programme, tax breaks for savers, pension funds investing in a nationwide infrastructure programme, and a fairer taxation system.
Colin Hines, convener, Green New Deal Group
Regarding Jonathan Liew’s piece on why so many of England’s “golden generation” have failed as managers (Left Field, 28 October): they all developed as players when the rewards for their profession went from substantial to incomprehensible. While they were gifted footballers, as a national team they weren’t very good and very definitely less than the sum of their parts.
The truly great British managers (Alex Ferguson, Jock Stein, Matt Busby, Bill Shankly, Brian Clough), were all good rather than exceptional players. They knew how to maximise contribution to the collective effort and puncture inflated egos: a totally different skill set to leading a team of disparate talents in what is now an increasingly tactically complex game.
Andy Leslie, Horsham, West Sussex
Front of the queue
As Sasha Swire’s appeal for sympathy for the long wait she and husband Hugo have had for a seat in the House of Lords (Diary, 28 October) was followed by the measured piece on Gary Lineker’s podcast empire (Encounter, 28 October), I found myself thinking that the celebrated footballer and son of a greengrocer should be fast-tracked – arise Lord Lineker of Leicester.
Les Bright, Exeter, Devon
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This article appears in the 02 Nov 2022 issue of the New Statesman, The Meaning of Rishi Sunak