In today’s issue:

  • Do you believe in tooth fairies and political promises?
  • What’s in the parties’ secret manifestos?
  • We’re in for a tragedy, not a comedy

Nothing is more embarrassing to democracy than an election campaign. But this time, it’s like all the circuses have come to town at once.

Labour announced its plans to “swich on GB Energy”. Which aptly summarises the Conservatives’ own incoherent energy policy.

If you can’t spell, can you run a power grid?

Claire Coutinho, the current energy secretary, threw this brick out of her glass house:

“Labour does not have a serious approach to Britain’s energy security and they aren’t honest about the costs that their reckless net zero targets would place on households.”

That’s the pot calling the kettle black.

Rishi Sunak got washed out of office by rain before he even mentioned the election.

Yes, when it rains, it pours. But that’s especially true for those anticipating climate change will cause summer droughts.

All this is just the beginning of silly season. For weeks we’ll have to listen to the Tories warn that a Labour government would only continue their policies.

And Labour will promise change by doing more of the same.

But is there anything meaningful in the midst of all this vaudevillian entertainment? Are any of these clowns serious, behind the scenes?

What’s in their secret manifestos?

It’s easy to get distracted by the theatre. But just because the election looks like a farce doesn’t mean you can ignore it.

The excellent journalist Liam Halligan reckons there must be some nasty surprises for the government lurking in the second half of the year. Otherwise an election would’ve been called much later.

Economist Roger Bootle claims the pound could be in for a crash. I wonder if the different leaders would deal with that challenge differently.

Savers are already staging a bank run on the pension industry. The Telegraph reports they’re selling out in anticipation of another Labour pension raid.

Gordon Brown’s tax changes remain the top topic of reader mail at the Fortune & Freedom reader mailbox: [email protected]

Just as the theatrics of the election are misleading, so too is the presumption that the government will be as boring as parties are promising to be.

Back in January, we told our readers at The Fleet Street Letter what is lurking in Labour’s “secret manifesto”.

And that’s the big problem we face. Labour will consider its election victory as a mandate for its bizarre policies. Rather than as a rejection of the Conservatives for theirs.

Given the policies are the same, this means electing Labour will only worsen our misery.

And what will the Conservatives spend years doing in opposition? Arguing against their own former policies?

Wasn’t it the Conservatives who gave us net zero targets?

Wasn’t it the Conservatives who gave us inflation?

Wasn’t it the Conservatives who gave us a stagnant economy?

Wasn’t it the Conservatives who gave us a whopping debt and the interest bill to go with it?

The government’s opposition will look like James Bond in that famous scene – a shootout in the hall of mirrors.

Without a credible opposition, Labour will only be encouraged.

And you know what? We may well be stuck with Labour in the end. But perhaps we should be grateful. Because we’ve got clowns to the left of us and jokers to the right.

That’s right, the EU and the US are in campaign mode too.

An international circus 

How many election campaigns can you handle at the same time?

The Europeans will elect their EU government next week.

Just kidding.

They’ll elect their Members of the European Parliament. An institution so unimportant that its own website details which parliamentary powers it should but doesn’t have.

Legislation is “presented by the European Commission, the only institution empowered to initiate legislation”. And it’s not a question of “whether” the parliament approves the text, but “when”.

What sort of politicians do you think they’ll get with that sort of context? Responsible types? The sort you’d trust to write good laws?

Or a protest vote?

When I asked Nigel Farage about the EU elections, he revealed something shocking. If you believe the polls are right and Labour will win, you might want to pay a lot of attention to the European elections instead. Any alignment means adopting EU policies, after all…

Over in the US, the presidential campaign is rapidly descending into a theatre of the absurd. It’s as if the TV networks have conspired to come up with the candidates that’ll give them the best prime time coverage.

At least it will all be over by Christmas… for a few years. Then we’ll look back at election promises that were as real as the tooth fairy.

Unfortunately, someone always has to pay up for the magical presents which only children believe are free.

The trouble is, some of those children are old enough to vote.


Have you noticed it too?

We’re in for a tragedy, not a comedy

This election cycle continues a trend of doom mongering by politicians instead of the usual political promises of something radically better.

Both sides argue things would be worse if you elect the other lot. Not that they will provide something more wonderful.

Inflation will be lower under Labour. But they aren’t saying it’ll go away.

Net zero will be slower under the Conservatives. But it won’t be abandoned.

Taxes will be higher under Labour. But the Conservatives won’t lower them much.

There is no vision to vote for. There isn’t even one on offer. Instead, voters must choose based on the lesser of the two evils.

This shift is occurring for good reason.

Even the politicians know the fairytale is coming to an end. Father Christmas must be paid.

The national debt is starting to bite.

Resources are growing scarce.

Biden is releasing strategic oil reserves instead of pumping more oil.

There’s fear of power shortages.

Interest rates are dangerously high.

It’s all having an impact on the nature of politics.

Tribalism is caused by the economic pie getting smaller. It is the politics of decline.

Fighting for a larger share of a pie gives you a very different type of election campaign to arguing over how to make the pie bigger, as we used to.

That’s what I wrote about in the December 2022 issue of The Fleet Street Letter. And now it’s dominating the election campaign.

There is only one bright spot. Right here.

Until next time,


Nick Hubble
Editor, Fortune & Freedom