This week, Grant Shapps announced a target of 300,000 more Chargers across the country by 2030, the year the government announces it will ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars. Inevitably, he left it to the local authorities to ensure that the deployment took place. Note my words, it will not. Not without national leadership.
My advice is this. If you only make relatively short journeys, then buying an electric car is a good decision. If you regularly drive more than 150 miles, this is not the case. In my experience, car manufacturers lie on the expected range. My electric car is supposed to do 298 miles. The reality is that it’s 206, or 215 if it’s hot. Caveat emptor.
Two years of Keir
Today marks the second anniversary of the election of Keir Starmer as leader of the Labor Party. Few people would have thought it possible to detoxify his party so quickly and get rid of lunatics, extremists and hidden anti-Semites. But he largely succeeded.
He purged Corbynites from his front bench and shadow cabinet and replaced them with new faces, such as Wes Streeting, Rachel Reeves and Lisa Nandy, none of whom scare off election horses. Becoming Leader of the Opposition at the start of a pandemic was never going to be easy, but despite several weak points, Starmer has matured as a leader.
Yes, he is charismatically challenged; yes, it looks a bit boring; and yes, the recent party mess the question of gender suggests that he is far from convincing many voters that he speaks their language. But, in reality, if he gains the confidence to show his true personality and demonstrate his thirst for power, Boris Johnson will have a problem on his hands.
In two years, an election campaign could well be underway. Starmer must now switch to a different mode. Labour’s offer right now is a long lament about how awful things are and will get. They may be right, but that’s not enough.
In 1980, Ronald Reagan looked into a camera and uttered the devastating phrase, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” Few Americans could answer in the affirmative. But he didn’t just win by pointing out the failures of Jimmy Carter, he won because he offered a positive view of the sunny highlands. Starmer’s electoral destiny hinges on his ability to do the same with his team.
Memories of the Falklands
Another date to remember this weekend was the 40th anniversary of the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands. It received little coverage from our national broadcaster.
I well remember visiting friends in Germany at the time. My friend’s father, a Wehrmacht veteran in Normandy, said Britain would never go to war to get the islands back. “You don’t know Margaret Thatcher,” I said.
A few weeks later, I was sleeping in my university digs in Norwich. Someone knocked on the door. “Have you seen the papers this morning? You should,” my friend said. Finally, I got up and took a newspaper from the common kitchen. And There you go. My name. Welsh guard Ian Dale, killed in the Falklands aged 20.
Every year since then I think of him, and in 2002, on the 20th anniversary of the war, I dedicated my book Memories of the Falklands to his memory.