Liz Truss is not going to die wondering. She’s only been prime minister for just over two weeks, most of which she’s spent traveling the country in mourning for Queen Elizabeth II, and she’s already ripped big chunks out of her predecessor’s agenda. It makes you wonder how she managed to agree with a word Boris Johnson said. I guess ambition takes you to dark places. No matter. Tax rules are for wimps! NICs must be deleted! She was surprisingly active for someone whose normal delivery tends towards coma.
The last U-turn concerns hydraulic fracturing. The 2019 Conservative manifesto committed the party to a moratorium on fracking until science indicates it could be done without earthquakes. But that was the case three years ago. Needless to say, the science hasn’t changed at all, but that’s not good enough for our Librium Liz.
She thinks it should have been done. So she took a look at the science and decided the science was wrong. What is needed is a new science. Whoever agrees with her. And guess what? It has now redefined science and we are all on the move. The power of magical thinking.
It was left to Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg to explain the change of heart in response to an urgent question from Shadow Climate Change Minister Ed Miliband. The Moggster was in his element. He is never happier than when he indulges his 19th century fantasies. If he could bring back coal mining, he would. Anything to escape reality.
There was a brief hiatus however, as Rees-Mogg could not find his script. No wonder, because he didn’t seem to have any. All he really had to say was that fracking was back on the agenda whether people liked it or not. Like Librium Liz, he seems to be under the illusion that all you have to do is drill a hole somewhere in an Area of Outstanding National Beauty and you get an unlimited supply of gas. Enough to bring the price down to pennies and end the world’s reliance on Russian gas.
Miliband treated Rees-Mogg like he was a fool. Most people do that these days. Long gone are the days when MPs were in awe of his faux politeness and smug self-confidence squeezed into an oversized undertaker suit. Now people see him for the needy fraudster that he is.
What was he trying to prove, Miliband asked. There was almost no chance of any of this happening. Most Tory councils will not grant planning permission for a garden shed, let alone a fracking site. And even if they did, it wouldn’t change anything. The price of gasoline would not drop and that would only alienate voters everywhere. It was nothing less than a charter for earthquakes. What happened to the Conservatives’ commitment to renewable energy?
Rees-Mogg simply shrugged. People were far too concerned about earthquakes. What was wrong with a little seismic activity? It never hurt San Francisco. Well, except in 1906. We should all get used to certain vibrations. How would we know it wasn’t safe unless a few people died?
Tory MPs Mark Menzies, Greg Knight, Scott Benton, Ruth Edwards and Paul Maynard were all furious at this flippant trashing of the manifesto and sought to ensure the government still kept its promise that nothing could go forward without local consent. Rees-Mogg did not answer this question. You can never trust local people to make sensible decisions. It would be much better if the drilling companies tried to bribe a few choice residents.
Give us a break, pleaded Rees-Mogg. “We’ve only been in government for two weeks.” Uh, do that 12 years. Also, he suggested, most of the anti-fracking protests had been funded by Putin. And that coming from someone who was part of a Brexit campaign tainted with Russian influence.
At least there was less revisionism in the Health Secretary’s statement on her plan for the NHS. Mainly because Librium Liz never had a plan for it in the first place. Other than to make it slightly better than it currently is. Either way. She will be furious when she finds out who pushed it into the ground.
But she at least chose her new health secretary wisely. Because when you have no ideas, who better than Thérèse Coffey? A woman with no imagination and no big brain. But someone you can count on to find nonsense on the back of a pack of cigars.
Indeed, Coffey did not disappoint, proposing – in the absence of a plan – a memory game. A was for Ambulance. B was for Backlog. It was for Care. D was for Doctor. And E was for total fucking Eejit. Poor Therese. She didn’t realize how crummy and half-stupid her ideas were.
She didn’t even seem to realize she had moved the goal posts from people being able to see a GP in 48 hours under Labor to two weeks crossed under Librium Liz. And, she said sternly, people could move on to another GP who also couldn’t see them if they were unlucky with the first one. Otherwise, they could do everyone a favor and die.
Did Coffey really imagine that setting other goals that would not be achieved was the answer? Therese looked unhappy. Because it turns out that’s precisely what she believed. We’re really screwed.