The Queen is dead, boys,
And it’s so lonely on a limb.
— The Smiths
Meet the new boss.
Same as the old boss.
— The Who
I suppose the odds of the United Kingdom having a deceased monarch and an incoming Prime Minister in the same week, and their having the same Christian name, must be rather long. If we are in a gambling mood, however, this might be an epoch-defining moment to assess Great Britain’s future. To help us lay our bets, as always we should look at the form of the runners and riders — in this case Britain’s two defining institutions: parliamentary government and constitutional monarchy.
The Crown may lie on an uneasy head as we move from the Elizabethan to the Carolingian age. Charles is, I would hope, not egotistical enough to be too concerned about filling the void in the nation left by his mother. Theoretically, he should rule from a position of ideological neutrality as she did, keeping his counsel about his rather zealous and star-struck environmental concerns. Charles should not seek to revolutionize the monarchy and should dismiss any thoughts — and courtiers — that might be termed “progressive.”. It is not the point of a monarchy to progress; quite the opposite. Part of its purpose, in its constitutional and non-autocratic form, is to preserve a chain of connection with the past, to be fundamentally conservative.
On a related subject, what of the Conservative Party? Liz Truss’ tenure at 10 Downing Street may be fairly short if she loses the next General Election and is then forced to resign. The Tories can’t afford to keep going through leaders as though they were football managers after a few poor results. Much was made of the fact that Queen Elizabeth’s final constitutional act as monarch was to grant Liz Truss permission to form a government, thereby sanctioning the fifteenth Prime Minister to serve during Her Majesty’s 70-year reign (the first having been Churchill). Worryingly for the Conservatives, Larry the cat, 10 Downing Street’s much-loved mouser since 2011, has scratched the furniture of four of those PMs.
Truss’ premiership will at least answer a question asked by keen-eyed political observers of the British Isles: Will she act like a conservative or just talk like one? Despite the impression given by the media, the public sector, and government itself, the British people are — or were — naturally quite a conservative people. Truss could feather her political nest by being a Tory in fact rather than in name only.
Sir Cecil Rhodes famously said that to be born an Englishman was to win first prize in God’s lottery, and despite that being fanciful today, the British have instinctively hung on to their lottery ticket, never quite letting go of the past in such a way that they can’t call it back when needed, unlike Yeats’ falcon. There is wisdom too in Auden’s poem “September 1939,” in which children “hold on to nurse/For fear of finding something worse.” Someone who undoubtedly had both nurse and nanny, King Charles III, should try to draw as little attention as possible to the monarchy, while Liz Truss should turn the media into critics, not courtiers.
On the subject of nannies and nurses, the British nanny-state is not a nurse who meant only to protect and improve what she saw as the children in her care. But nanny is becoming malevolent in her dotage: Scary Poppins, no longer content to nag and wheedle her charges into good behavior but increasingly authoritarian and clearly aligned against the people she was contracted to serve, not to make servile. British journalist Peter Hitchens quoted a letter he had read in one of the newspapers, and which concerned the obviously massive police presence at the royal funeral. At Churchill’s funeral, the correspondent noted, film footage shows police lining the route of the cortege, just as they did at Queen Elizabeth’s funeral procession. The difference is that in 1965 the police officers were looking forward, facing the procession. This year they were facing the other way, watching the people rather than the pageant.
And this is where Truss is a litmus test for which way the United Kingdom might tread the thorny path which unquestionably lies ahead. She could, with the application of a handful of initiatives carried out rather than just hinted at, become the most popular Conservative Prime Minister in a century by putting the state on a leash and throwing in some behavioral training for good measure. The police, the education system, the National Health Service (NHS), the civil service — all of these are redoubts held by the Left, and a genuine Conservative would know exactly how to reform them as non-ideological, non-technocratic, functional bodies and systems rather than partisan indoctrinaires. Fit for purpose, as they call it in the corridors of power.
So the police, Truss might suggest, can lose the rainbow-colored cars (they really have these; see above), get out of the office, stop looking for hate speech on Twitter, and go back on the beat. And, she could add, if I see another officer dancing at a pride festival, kneeling in front of neo-Marxist agitators, or failing to investigate gross crimes against minors on the grounds of ethnicity or religion, those officers will need another line of work.
Ah, educators of young, and therefore vulnerable, children. Do come in. I’ve been expecting you. No more shenanigans, I’m afraid. You will teach a proper, traditional education with no drag queen story hour, slavery fact-packs, or teaching your white students to hate the color of their skin. And so on and so forth. You get the picture.
That won’t happen, of course, but what of the more achievable aims Truss has already outlined? She is to be commended, incidentally, for making announcements clearly and without resorting to leak and rumor, the natural habitat of political wildlife. New Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who made an impression during the leadership contest, has stated her intention to take Britain out of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR, also referred to as the European Court of Human Rights). This is significant when you compare Braverman’s earlier career with that of outgoing Home Secretary Priti Patel. Patel worked for a public relations consultancy, while Braverman was a barrister who served on immigration law reviews. I have written elsewhere that it stretched credibility that a cabinet stuffed with lawyers didn’t see the legal challenges to Patel’s “Rwanda scheme” coming down the pike. Perhaps Braverman might provide some clarity of vision. That said, Truss met with that impudent Dollar Store Bonaparte, Emmanuel Macron, at the United Nations and not a word passed between them concerning the illegal migrants crossing the English Channel.
The energy price cap is an easy bone to throw both business and households this winter, particularly if it is a cold one, although the media should be doing a better job of explaining that this is not windfall fruit from the magic money orchard, but will have to be paid back. I guess that when you already have a debt-to-GDP (Gross Domestic Product) ratio of around 85% (it’s not supposed to go much above 40%), what’s another few billion while you can still borrow it? Smoke ’em while you got ‘em.
The financial aid package earmarked for the NHS is misleadingly named. All money given to the NHS is financial aid. That’s what tax money becomes once it has left the stewardship of the people who actually earned it. I have written about my role in the NHS here, and I have no more to say on that ill-run behemoth.
So, is this Britain’s chance for a Great Reset all of its own, or will it continue its slow decline, like an old, stately home gradually crumbling from the inside while the facade still attracts the tourists? The so-called “Great Reset” itself is a bit too stage-managed for my liking. The World Economic Forum seems like a slick advert, a realtor’s hi-res movie of a property which doesn’t exist, Klaus Schwab in his leather coat on his underwater island. “You will own nothing but you will be happy.” This translates as, “We will own everything and explain to you the terms of what you may consider your happiness.” The Great Reset has been underway for some time, and your happiness is not a priority for these strangely autistic-seeming people.
As for Britain experiencing some sort of glorious dawn, that glorious glow you see on the horizon is bush-fire, and you live in a wooden house and it is getting closer. You will own nothing and you will be happy to accept anything the state’s largesse is prepared to give you, or to give you back. If what is happening now is incompetence, then there is hope, as shoddy work can always be put right by an improver. But if what is about to happen is by design, then things are about to get a lot worse for a lot of the good people of Albion.
Whereas King Charles has inherited a largely mythical kingdom, in which his range of effects are limited to the functions he attends and the media response to those events, Liz Truss has been bequeathed an economic and social tinderbox. She will be pleased to have gained the premiership with winter approaching, as it will allow her to gauge her response to the energy crisis as the seasons shade into one another, and there will be less chance of rioting in cold weather, as rioting is very much fancied on the form card.
The recent clashes between Muslims and Hindus in Leicester and Birmingham could be the aria to a full-blown beggar’s opera in the next few months. Once Muslims realize they can surround Hindu places of worship, desecrate and vandalize them, and the police will not interfere, they will soon look for other targets, just as blacks are now realizing they have the run of the stores of London any time they are bored. Arrests at soccer matches were up 59% last season, and when the footie lads get annoyed, things tend to change on the streets. Welcome to the premiership, Ms. Truss. We hope you will be happy here.
And if things weren’t precarious enough at home, there is still the threat of Europe. I say “threat,” as the United Kingdom is still the destination of choice, with Germany and Sweden as the next choices. Schengen never went away with Brexit any more than pockmarks go away when you have got over chicken pox. And Truss should look to Germany and Sweden. The preferred destination of migrants may be about to change. Germany is, if reports are to be believed, on the brink of a severe economic downturn which may partially deindustrialize the country that lost two world wars and thought it had won the peace. As for Sweden, the usually stoical Swedes have just voted in a Right-wing coalition government who will want to address the immigration problem as a priority.
So that leaves the UK as the most enticing benefits system. But what’s a few more when there is a tide of immigrants arriving on the tides of the Kent coast every day? It’s not quite as simple as that. If the so-called “Caravan of Light,” about to set off from Turkey and possibly comprising 100,000 Syrians, reaches the UK, what will Liz Truss do then? Request that King Charles summon the Yeomanry and ready their pikes?
Charles doesn’t know what he wants as long as it’s not what his namesake Charles I had to put up with: the English Civil War, followed by his head being cut off. He may get his civil war yet, although he is friendly enough with the Muslim community to keep the head that wears the crown firmly on those royal shoulders. Liz Truss, on the other hand, wants to be Thatcher but may end up being Churchill after all, if only in the sense that she will serve as a wartime Prime Minister, although what kind of war remains to be seen. So, another long-shot event may have come to pass in September; two poisoned chalices in the same week.
* * *
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