‘Winter of discontent’ parallels as energy crisis grows – The Yorkshire Post says

IT IS noteworthy that Boris Johnson sought to compare himself favourably to one Margaret Thatcher during a bizarre party conference speech that ignored or downplayed the seriousness of every major challenge facing the nation – including the prospect of a 30 per cent hike in energy bills.

Boris Johnson made little mention of the energy crisis in his party conference speech.

‘Crisis? Which Crisis?’ should have been his starting point as distinct from ‘Crisis? What Crisis?’ – The Sun’s iconic headline that became a turning point in the 1978-79 winter of discontent and disastrous to the fortunes of Jim Callaghan who went on to lose the ensuring election to Mrs Thatcher.

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Until that point, the public had been sympathetic towards Mr Callaghan and recognised the seriousness of the crises that he faced, at the end of a divisive decade defined by the ‘three day week’ and power cuts.

Boris Johnson continues to come under fire for his party conference speech.

Contrast Mr Callaghan with this PM whose fleeting mention of energy policy this week was a curious reference to apprentices “who had moved straight across from the world of oil and gas and they had the same excitement at working amid winds and wave and being able to see whales and dolphins from the office window”.

That might be so – and UK reliance on reliable sources of renewable energy has never been more urgent – but Mr Johnson does not grasp the immediacy of the current cost of living crises and why domestic and commercial energy users may need a contingency plan. For, if the lights do go out this winter or the elderly shiver to death in unimaginable numbers, the public will hold one person responsible – Boris Johnson – as all those who remember the Callaghan government will surely attest.

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An archive photo of Jim Callaghan who was premier during the 1978-79 winter of discontent.