Harold Macmillan said that the most feared thing in government is “events, dear child, events.” In this he was right. It is a policy issue that determines how governments deal with the occasional unforeseen events.
Unexpectedly beaten, the government is finding it difficult to control.
Perhaps the best example of this is the lack of an HGV driver that affects the fuel and food supply. Some broadcasters and journalists have unwittingly labeled this as a break-up problem, but this is simply not true. This is a big issue in Europe and the culprit is the coronavirus. The root causes of this chronic shortage are long-term implications.
The total shortage of HGV drivers in Europe is now over 400,000. For example, it predicts 124,000 drivers in Poland, 60,000 in the UK, and in Germany the same as in the UK, but by 2027 it will increase to 185,000.
The fact is, many European drivers have retired, with many drivers closing their homes and laughing. This could be exacerbated by the cessation of all new drivers’ tests, especially if the authorities use possible covide PCR or side flow tests to qualify future drivers. To make you feel how insane the bureaucracy is, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency has stopped testing motorcycles – even though they are all tested on their bikes alone.
What we are seeing now is a key decision-making process that has angered us. Obviously there is a little forward thinking or planning.
The British Confederation of Trade Unions, which has been quick to blame Brexit for the current crisis, should realize that industry leaders themselves must bear the brunt of the blame. I remember before Brexit, as Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Department of Labor and Pensions, I asked why drivers did little to invest in the training industry, especially when the shortage was already known and the British people did not want it. Doing the work. In return, my department bought several places on the course to test their theory, filled in with applicants within days, and then more than three-quarters passed. The concept of the wheels was wrong – there were many people who wanted to train but could not afford the training. The reality is that cheap drivers from overseas have made short-term decisions.
Some years ago, when I left the Scottish Guards, I chose to qualify as an HVV driver. I remember the endless trips around Liverpool Liverpool in the two-week course. Although I did not renew my license after a few years, I still remember how I was able to squeeze the lesson in a few days, as it should have been years ago.
It is clear that from a brief look at the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, the shortage of drivers could have been reduced if the truckers had invested in British drivers. I’m not sure how visa changes will be understood now when the whole of Europe is looking for drivers.
On top of that, as energy prices rise and energy companies go to the wall, we know this year is the first year since 2016 that the North Sea Exploration License has been granted and we have the smallest strategic supplies in Europe. The prime minister’s announcement is to invest in nuclear power, not China, but the fact is, when we try to get a net zero, we still need fossil fuels for a while if we want to keep the cars. Run and the lights are on.
With growth slowing down, inflation rising to 4 percent and Christmas approaching, the government must act quickly to prevent a complete hurricane. The low cost of living bears the brunt of it: now is the time to reconsider the cut to universal credit, or delay it until at least four months to let us know where we are.
Profitability is important to the government. According to Macmillan, the handling of events has the potential to tarnish the image of the government or to build trust in the public. It is up to the government to decide which one.