As the Conservative Party leadership contest rumbles on through August, and the two remaining candidates seek to outdo each other by promising different tax cuts, the eventual winner will quickly find out that winning the support of Conservative Party members is easy compared to the challenges awaiting them as Prime Minster.
With inflation rapidly spiralling out of control and the national debt increasing by over £18 million per hour, the only scope for tax cuts or additional spending is by even more borrowing, which will ultimately have to be repaid. Whilst the rise in gas and electricity prices is largely due to the conflict in Ukraine, (and I acknowledge that the Government has taken some measures to reduce the impact), with another large hike expected in October, more action is needed to protect people on low incomes.
Other key issues that must be addressed are:
- the levels of crime, which is much higher than it was 10 years ago
- the urgent need to address climate change. As average temperatures increase, we hear reports of extreme weather on a regular basis
- the crises in the NHS. As part of his 2019 election pledge, Boris Johnson promised 50,000 more nurses and 50 million more GP appointments every year. Yet, almost three years on, there are tens of thousands of nursing vacancies, around 11% of the total workforce. There are long delays for those waiting for operations, leading many who can afford to, to go to private hospitals. Large numbers of people are finding it difficult to register with a GP or dentist, and we hear horrific stories of people, who are waiting for hours, if not days on hospital trollies in corridors due to the lack of hospital beds. I do not believe that it is an exaggeration to say that the NHS is at breaking point, and this is in the summer. If the new occupant of 10 Downing Street fails to take immediate action to address this situation, I really fear for the winter ahead.