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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The good is the possible turning of the tide in Putin’s war, which could ease our own cost of living crisis as well as saving sovereign Ukraine. The bad is the terrible damage already inflicted everywhere. And, as our Political Correspondent Peter Spencer reports, the ugly is the blue on blue nastiness we’ll witness in Westminster in coming days.

Alison McGovern, who does the talking for Labour about jobs, likes to tell the story as it is.

Hence her reaction to the news that the British economy just got smaller. Again. It is, she said: ‘A statement of the bleeding obvious.’

Her point being that for quite a while now everyone’s been feeling the pinch.

Which is why so many have finally reached the up-with-this-we-won’t-put point. Winter of discontent? And the rest.

After walkouts by rail and mail workers, we’re looking at Border Force officials, passport workers Job Centre staff and many others downing tools.

Also, both emotive and symbolic, the nation’s nurses have voted to hold their first ever strike. Just as NHS waiting times have broken all records.

But, with the bills flooding in for the Covid epidemic and the sanctions against Russia, the Chancellor will not play the kindly dentist this week.

Forget this won’t hurt a bit. He’s making no bones about his financial upsum. It’s going to hurt. A lot. And that’s everyone.

Roughly two-thirds of the clawback will pinch the bottoms of public sector workers, who’ll see their pay cut in real terms.

Likewise almost everyone who uses pretty much any of the services provided by the government, or who relies on state benefits.

The other third will come from taxes in various shapes and forms. Which is where the nastiness comes in.

Our new Prime Minister has managed to call a truce between the warring factions of the Tory Party. But it’s fragile.

Those on the hard right are already dusting off their knuckledusters and gearing up for the punch-up. Tax ‘grabs?’ Not on our watch.

You can see why Sunak didn’t want to sack his party’s Mr Nasty, alias former Chief Whip Sir Gavin Williamson.

It became inevitable after allegations emerged that he’d told a top civil servant to slit his throat or jump out of a window.

Or both. In which order we’ll probably never know.

It is matter of record, however, that he kept a tarantula on his desk, named after some Greek geezer who liked eat his own offspring.

It’s also a matter of political fact that leaders do have a use for thumbscrew operatives to keep the troops in line. Especially when times is ’ard.

Could be then that while Sir Gavin Ghastly’s no longer Sunak’s cabinet hitman, he may yet be sharing torture tips.

Ever so discreetly, mind, as the motto at Sunak’s posh school was ‘manners maketh man’. Something he clearly has taken on board.

Witness the progress he appears to be making in getting Northern Ireland out of its Brexit-inflicted protocol pickle.

Likewise potential ways through the moral morass of migrants making it across The Channel. In both cases just talking to people. Nicely. It works sometimes.

Not always, mind. Sunak’s much too polite to say so publicly, but in regard to a chunk of his own party a line from Shakespeare may have struck him.

‘A nest of traitors.’

Quite the fashion just now. Given the Truss turbulence of the scarily recent past it’s little wonder the blame game’s already so well under way.

Her old squeeze Kwasi Kwarteng has pushed her out of bed, so to speak, saying nearly taking the British economy down was down to her. Not him.

Likewise, in what’s fast turning into the evil empire, Putin’s dishing the dirt on his failing and flailing military chiefs.

Instead of going on telly to announce his chaps are having to give up on the strategically important area of Kherson he made his generals do it.

That cynical bit of window dressing, however, can’t disguise the fact that this huge reverse could signal a turning point in the war.

It’s also the mother of humiliations for Big Chief Motherland.

Only a few weeks ago Putin was publicly patting himself and his cronies on the back for taking over the place.

Now his placeman for the region, Kirill Stremousov, has died in mysterious circumstances. Which brings the blame game to a whole new level.

All this comes as Russian military casualties in less than a year top their losses in the entire decade they struggled on in Afghanistan.

Also, their conscripts, who’ve been having to shell out (sic) for their own armour and clothing, have lost around ten tanks a day since September.

So much for the springtime lightning attack which was supposed to be over in days. Now it won’t even be over by Christmas.

Or will it? With such clear signs that the Ukrainians might actually be the winners, the Americans are taking a leaf out of Winston Churchill’s book.

‘Jaw-jaw is better than war-war.’ Civilised fingers the world over are crossed.

At the same time, in the jolly old U.S. of A, there’s a sliver of optimism that their own democracy may be safer than it’s been looking of late.

Instead of hoisting The Donald onto his return-to-the-White-House platform, their mid-term elections have left him hoist on his own pétard.

Voters roundly rejected those consiglieres who trumpeted Trump’s nonsense about the presidency having been stolen from him.

And his former media outliers have taken the hint, with the New York Post, his favourite newspaper, now dubbing him ‘Trumpty Dumpty’.

One of its columnists went so far as to call him: ‘Perhaps the most profound vote repellent in modern American history.’

In his place, the smart Republican money is now on Ron DeSantis, who got back in as Florida governor by a monumental margin.

Trump disses him as Ron DeSanctimonious, probably because he’s been careful not to dispute the last, indisputably fair, presidential election.

But, if this saga feels like playtime telly to British viewers, it’s not the only one.

Cue Matt Hancock, braving everything from ghoulies, ghosties and long legged beasties to things that go bump in the night.

The former Health Secretary claims his agreeing to appear on I’m a Celeb gives him a chance to help people like him, who’ve got dyslexia.

Practically everyone else in Westminster thinks it’s his chance to make a complete prat of himself having a ghastly time.

But whatever the rights and wrongs of the case, physical discomfort’s been documented since humans learned to write nearly four thousand years ago.

Boffins from the Hebrew Uni of Jerusalem have translated the first sentence ever, in the ancient language of the folk who lived in their neck of the woods.

Inscribed on a Canaanite guy’s ivory comb was a personal hygiene-related spell. It read: ‘May this tusk root out the lice of the hair and the beard!’

And what might hapless Hancock need to root out before he gets chucked out of the jungle? Dread to think. Peter Spencer has 40 years experience as a Political Correspondent in Westminster, working with London Broadcasting and Sky News. For more of his fascinating musings on the turbulent political landscape, follow him on Facebook & Tw


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