Sometimes politics can be a binary matter, and utterly predictable: as in, either the government will break its manifesto pledge not to raise taxes or it will renege on the promise, solemnly delivered by Boris Johnson in Downing Street, to fix the social care crisis “once and for all”.
Of course, because of this prime minister’s extraordinary administrative capabilities, it is possible that he will engineer a third way, and actually contrive to break both his promises, by grudgingly raising the wrong taxes by the wrong amount, and thus diverting insufficient resources to fix long-term care “once and for all”. Indeed there are even some ominous noises about the £10bn or so likely to be raised being partially used to fix the “other” crisis – in the NHS. It’s a mess.
What is certainly clear is that, one way or another, the government will let people down again, and it cannot continue to use Covid as an excuse, devastating as that has been for the public finances. The broken promises and the U-turns are amassing faster than the pages of Dominic Cummings’s blog. To take a few examples: the commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of national income on overseas aid; the reverses on school meals forced by Marcus Rashford; protecting Northern Ireland in the Brexit deal; a post-Brexit deal for Scottish fisheries; adequate progress on reaching carbon net zero by 2050; and of course all the missed targets and reversals over lockdowns, test and trace and the exams fiasco.
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