‘May you live in interesting times.’

This is an English translation of an old Chinese curse. I never really understood it until the last few years — having lived through interesting times.

A game of pass the parcel

The reader would be forgiven for wanting a neck brace whenever you get the news. The whiplash-inducing speed at which everything has gone sideways has led Wikipedia to change its headlines on articles relating to the UK government in order to distinguish between the July crisis and the most recent one which culminated in Liz Truss becoming the latest casualty of her own party’s war against reality.

When I first thought about writing an article about Truss’ government, I was going to write about the energy crisis, and how her top team’s plans to cap the average bill were merely storing up debt and financial hardship.

But, just like many others who observe British politics, I could not believe the speed with which the fragile Truss premiership collapsed. Even when Johnson, a prime minister mired in scandal and sleaze, resigned, the system allowed him a full six weeks before his ill-fated successor was named. However, following the pound’s sonic collapse together with skyrocketing interest rates and inflation, the Tories soon descended into parliamentary infighting. Hardly surprising then that Liz Truss was forced to stand behind her Jenga-inspired podium and resign.

No matter your political tribe, it’s impossible to deny that four chancellors and three prime ministers within a year points to a Conservative Party in their death throes. This, however, has not deterred some Conservatives from insisting that parliamentary democracy is working given that they can elect a new leader without a General Election. And whilst this is technically true, it feels to me like an abuse of power from the governing party who are essentially treating the country like a pass-the-parcel game. Whenever the music stops, the next person holding the package strips off another layer until only one person is left holding the prize and the rest of us have confetti of shredded paper and much disappointment.

Give me boring any day

To return to our quote — I long for boring. I never thought I’d settle for a boring political landscape, but now I just want someone, anyone, who would boringly but capably get on with the job of running the country. When we look at the potential leaders to replace Liz Truss, most of them are at the same disadvantage; they all recently lost to her. We saw the Conservatives’ preference first time around. Are we now expected to tolerate someone that they themselves rejected only six weeks ago?

It gets worse, though. Looming over the conversation like Big Bird from Sesame Street, with the Imperial March from Star Wars playing in the background, is none other than Boris Johnson. The ultimate ‘grass wasn’t greener’ candidate is someone that some die-hard Johnson fans still believe could be the candidate to reunite the party. To be clear, the same party that ousted him unceremoniously less than four months ago. Thank goodness then that he has seen sense in deciding to withdraw his bid for the premiership. Still, don’t get too comfortable. With Johnson, one can never be certain of anything.

Of course, this dizzying speed of changing events has been a large part of the issue. ‘Stability,’ a word that has been bandied around as a buzzword in Conservative circles, now feels like an echo of bygone days. One cannot speak of stability when the turnover in positions of power is that of a broken revolving door.

I suspect it won’t come as too much of a shock that I am not a Tory. So, from a non-Conservative point of view, I suggest that the best thing for the credibility of the party is to call a general election and lose. The Tories need to take their medicine at the polls and some time off to reflect on how they arrived at this breaking point. After enough time has passed, they can regroup in the political wilderness. But for all our sakes, go now. And give us back our boring times.

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