THIS year’s Conservative Party Conference – the first in the flesh since the General Election triumph of December 2019 – should be a joyous, dance-in-the-fountains victory parade.
Tories have so many reasons to be cheerful — that stonking 80-seat majority, the amputation of the dead hand of Brussels, Labour in comic disarray, Covid on the wane and our world-beating vaccination programme that jabbed millions of British people while our neighbours in Europe were still getting their lederhosen on.
Yet when the Tories convene in Manchester next weekend, dark clouds will gather above the flaxen-haired head of the leader.
The existential crisis facing the Conservative and Unionist Party is this — it no longer does what it says on the tin.
Low taxes? Small state? Not these Tories. And after Brexit, the pro-Union Conservatives are even struggling to hold the UK together.
A perfect storm seems about to break, a brutal combination of the impact of the global health pandemic, post-Brexit realities and a Prime Minister who once declared, “Wind farms couldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding” but who is now slightly greener than Greta Thunberg.
This Government increasingly looks as if it is running on empty.
For all their virtuous blather about net zero carbon emissions, this Government increasingly looks as if it is running on empty. Petrol stations with no petrol. Soaring energy bills. Empty supermarket shelves. Punitive taxes. The longest waiting list in NHS history.
And compounding all the HGV tests cancelled because of the pandemic, a catastrophic shortage of lorry drivers. But beyond the multiple problems clogging Boris Johnson’s inbox, there remains a simple truth. The fundamental job of any Government is to keep its people fed, warm and hopeful for the future.
Is this Tory Government up to the task? Even before the real panic buying begins, there comes a dark warning from the distribution chief at Tesco that, “empty shelves will get ten times worse by Christmas”.
All of Boris Johnson’s green pieties and good intentions will mean nothing if we suffer a miserable winter where people have to choose between eating and heating. And the prospects look bleak.
For all the virtuous rabbit about “levelling up” and doing right by the working-class voters who abandoned Labour, there seems to be no will among these Tories to set our economy free.
They don’t even know how we keep the lights on.
Relying on fallible green energy, the whim of treacherous foreign powers and Boris Johnson’s hot air seems unlikely to provide a lasting solution.
A reckoning is surely coming.
Brexit was the revolution that the British people voted for in greater numbers than we have ever voted for anything.
But where are those sunny uplands? And where is the free-wheeling global Britain we were promised?
A trade deal with America was taken as a given.
It has been flushed away by one virulently anti-British American President. Boris will give a masterful speech in Manchester. He will have fun at the expense of Monsieur Macron and those sulky French.
All of Boris Johnson’s green pieties and good intentions will mean nothing if we suffer a miserable winter where people have to choose between eating and heating.
He will make Brexit sound like it’s all going splendidly — despite the bitter truth that British people don’t want to do many of the hard, dirty jobs that EU citizens were doing.
But this nation grows weary of hollow rhetoric. Winter is coming. Soundbites are not enough. And not even Teflon-coated Boris will survive empty shelves at Christmas.
- ACCORDING to the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, the UK is responsible for less than one per cent of global emissions. China and India combined emit 37 per cent of emissions. And are there eco-activists stopping the traffic on motorways in India and China? Don’t hold your breath.
Zoe has revealed big talent
THE controversy around Zoe Kravitz’s appearance at the Met Gala – she bowled up in this transparent frock – obscures the fact Lenny Kravitz will soon be most famous for being her dad.
Zoe is a terrific actress.
In HBO series Big Little Lies she shone even when surrounded by a cast of big-hitting Hollywood stars such as Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern.
Next year she will be Catwoman in the new Batman film.
The world is looking forward to seeing much more of Zoe Kravitz.
Although after that dress, you have to wonder how much more there is to be revealed.
NO TIME FOR 007 CRITICS
DANIEL CRAIG famously called Bond a “misogynist” – meaning a man who hates women.
And now Cary Fukunaga, director of the long-awaited 007 movie No Time To Die, declares that Bond is a rapist.
“Is it Thunderball or Goldfinger where, like, basically Sean Connery’s character rapes a woman?” asked Fukunaga, whose film is finally released this week. “She’s like, ‘No, no, no’, and he’s like, ‘Yes, yes, yes’. That wouldn’t fly today.”
It’s both films – sort of. In Thunderball, Connery’s 007 steals a kiss from health farm worker Patricia Fearing and later pursues her into a steam room.
While in Goldfinger, Sean Connery and Honor Blackman have a playful fight in a barn and then end up in the hay where her feisty Pussy Galore eventually melts under his hairy-armed charms.
It is undeniably old-fashioned fare. But rape? That’s like calling Benny Hill a serious sexual predator. A character named “Pussy Galore” is a clue that none of it is meant to be taken all that seriously.
In the latest Bond, Ana de Armas sprays automatic gun fire around a crowded bar. I assume Fukunaga is not advocating gun sprees.
I am still looking forward to No Time To Die. Despite the constant tut-tutting about Bond by the film’s director and leading man.
WITH three pro dancers defiantly unvaccinated, Strictly crosses its fingers and hopes it is not cursed by an outbreak of Covid.
How loony that the BBC did not require dancers and celebs to prove they had been double-jabbed before they ever pulled on their dancing shoes.
Declining to get jabbed then wanting to twerk for the camera on TV’s biggest show feels like having your cake and eating it. You can’t get on a London Tube train without wearing a face mask.
It is bonkers that the BBC will allow you to do a steamy tango without being double-jabbed.
IN 1993, Melvyn Bragg made a memorable speech when he collected the Literary Review’s Bad Sex Award for some raunchy, romping passages in one of his novels.
“Awards never go to the people who deserve them,” smirked Melvyn.
And I thought of Melvyn this week when Gillian Anderson picked up an Emmy for her jaw-dropping impersonation of Mrs Thatcher in The Crown, left.
It was an excruciating turn, the most mannered performance by any actress in recent memory.
Maggie’s puppet on Spitting Image was more convincing.
MOVED BY MICK TRIBUTE
BRIAN JONES died at the age of 27, two days before the Rolling Stones concert in Hyde Park.
There was a poetry reading by Mick in Brian’s memory, butterflies were released but yet there was no real sense of loss. Mick and Keith never even made it to Brian’s funeral.
It is different with Charlie Watts, who died at the age of 80. Ahead of their 13-date tour of America, the Rolling Stones played a private concert in front of 300 people in Foxborough, Massachusetts – their first show since the death of the drummer.
The Stones have always been the most resilient of bands. Members come and go – Brian Jones, Mick Taylor, Bill Wyman – but the band continues without missing a beat.
But losing Charlie feels different. Jagger said a few simple, understated words and if you love the Stones, it was deeply moving.
“It’s a bit of a poignant night for us because it’s the first tour we’ve done in 59 years without our lovely Charlie Watts,” said Mick.
“We all miss Charlie so much. We miss him as a band, we miss him as friends, on and off stage.
We all miss Charlie so much. We miss him as a band, we miss him as friends, on and off stage.
"We’ve got so many memories of Charlie and I’m sure some of you who have seen us before have memories of Charlie as well. I hope you will remember him like we do. We’d like to dedicate this show to Charlie.”
It has taken a lifetime but the Stones have finally learned how to mourn their dead.
TEACHER Sabina Nessa, 28, was killed as she took a five-minute stroll from her home last Friday night to what was meant to be a first date.
Greenwich Council has handed out 500 rape alarms to local women and girls since last weekend.
“The streets are safe for women,” insists Chief Supt Trevor Lawry, in charge of local policing.
How can that be true? When councils are handing out hundreds of rape alarms, the streets are the exact opposite of safe.
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