Constituent’s plea to Mel Stride on the climate and cost of living crises: “Please do not respond with placatory words”

Mel Stride, MP for Central Devon

Dear Mr Stride,

Ukraine takes much of our attention these days, but I am sure that you share my conviction – without being uncaring about Ukrainian suffering – that two other issues should concern us even more deeply. They are the coming starvation and institutional collapse that we will experience here, and the global climate crisis that will make our children’s lives intolerable on occasion, and our grandchildren’s lives unrecognisable.

Please do not respond with placatory words.

I have to accept that a true picture of this horrendous future cannot come from the party in power. The disease in our political system necessitates that evasiveness is the fundamental principle for incumbent politicians motivated apparently by one factor above all else: to retain power, no matter how tired, debased or hollowed-out those politicians are. As we cannot expect ‘power’ to speak truth to citizens, we need Martin Lewis and Gordon Brown, among others, to clarify what our senses and understanding tell us – that as far as the domestic situation goes, we are declining into the most shocking financial and social collapse that has existed within the UK since the worst period of Victorian Britain.

You know far more starkly than I the relevant statistics. One facet of what is coming tops the nightmare scenario: poverty-induced deaths of the old and young in freezing squalor will mean that the NHS (short of 100,000 staff and buildings literally collapsing) faces unimaginably difficult choices of who to cure and who to let die. The crisis in mental health and the care system will be of the same order.

Your party and the entrails of this ‘government’ apparently care not. As you are part of the support team for Mr Sunak, it must be possible at least to suggest to him that presenting to the public a little more of the reality of what awaits us this winter will, in the medium term, stand his leadership bid in better stead.

I am assuming that, should she win, Ms Truss’s ‘boosterism’ will produce a governmental collapse, in late autumn, of the same order that we are experiencing under the ‘leadership’ of Mr Johnson. A government ‘of all talents’ will be necessary (or, wonder of wonders, something as sensible as a coalition) in which Mr Sunak could play the leading role.

Gordon Brown’s insistence that Johnson, Sunak and Truss should co-operate now to create the most suitable safety net is the only adult way in which to stave off the worst. The current system of replacing a leader within the ‘natural party of government’ involves an adolescent slanging match continuing, while fuel poverty for up to half our population lies a few months away. Will Mr Johnson initiate the proposed scheme for cooperative leadership? Am I wrong to doubt?                          

The complete absence of leadership over the domestic shambles becomes even more disastrous in relation to the climate crisis, where the responsibility placed on UK shoulders by our hosting of COP 26 has, in fact, led to wilful avoidance of the climate topic in this ‘leadership’ competition. You are fully aware of the recent IPCC reports and speeches by the UN leadership that describe the nature of the environmental turning points that await us. We cannot expect the leadership candidates to make detailed reference to this knowledge in their campaigns, but I have heard nothing on this issue from either side. How are we to find the courage, as a nation, to attempt a constructive response if our leaders are infantile in their flight from any limited mention of what lies in store?

In summary, could you please attempt to get the true nature of these issues, at least in outline, on to the agenda of the candidates. To let the 160,000 party members who are deciding our future make their selection with apparently no real discussion of these existential matters will be to deprive the nation, yet again, of realistic consideration of the most fundamental issues of our time.  Are we thought by the Tory Party to be too child-like to debate knowledge of what awaits us, or is it a tacit admission that the twelve years of divisive and self-serving ‘rule’ by your Party has left this nation in such a state that Peppa Pig escapism is your lasting achievement?

Yours sincerely,

Jeremy Hall