A more than usually speculative post ...
Last week, the price of petrol went up noticeably (~3%), but for me even more significant were increases in the prices of milk at Tesco (5.5%), and - highly symbolic - the brown bread we favour (12.5%).
Historically, British bread riots were when the price of a loaf went up from, like, 4d to 5d. So we're halfway to that kind of increase. In France, received wisdom is that Les Gilets Jaunes kicked off as fuel-price rioters. There's nothing I can see that will do anything to reverse the current inflationary trend - in fact, quite the opposite.
When does modern British man/woman hit the streets over the cost-of-living? And - will it be before or after the 'personal' costs of Net Zero Carbon hit home in a really visible way?
I put it that way because this week saw the launch of the fat government document purporting to be its Net Zero Strategy (alongside a distinctly, nay frostily skeptical Treasury document on the same theme). Ordinarily, as part of our service to readers I undertake to review these things systematically; but this time there's no point. The main strategy doc is so full of numerical nonsense and indeed internally contradictory numbers, it's an outright embarrassment - are there any Civil Servants left with an ounce of pride? - and can only be taken as something for Boris to wave at COP26. (He'd have done better to stay with the highly complimentary assessment of the UK in a review from "Climate Transparency" [one of those proliferating green NGOs] which has us as by far the best performer of the G20 nations - out on our own in a category of one.) However, one thing is really clear: big costs are on their way.
In one very obvious scenario, COP26 could be a PR disaster. It took a lot of effort to prevent the same outcome at Paris '21, when host-nation France was putting in 120% diplomatic effort and had a lot of other big nations onside anyway. Doesn't look particularly auspicious for Boris right now, although Kerry, the EC (if not all euro-nations) and the UN apparatus will be more than a little helpful to his cause. Crazy promises of cash might be forthcoming to work the trick. On the other hand, stay-away Xi might put in a dramatic appearance and engineer himself into the position of being 100% pivotal: "either acknowledge me as the saviour of the world, or I pull the plug". Who could be surprised if COP26 ends in fiasco, with the 'developing' nations stomping out due to their pockets not being adequately lined with gold; then Xi summons the developing world leaders to Beijing for an early Xmas present?
Anyhow, unless Boris engineers a half-triumph for himself, I reckon he's gone before Easter. Then Rishi can announce the resumption of fracking, etc etc ... Oh, and deal with those bread riots. What a good job there's currently no Leader of the Opposition.
Have a great weekend!