It isn’t going to be the best of festive seasons is it? The police, neighbours, even a phone app telling you not to meet the family on Christmas Day. Then comes New Year with 7000 lorries queueing in Kent as we don’t get Brexit done properly.

We need to remind ourselves that the Tories used to be the pro-business party. Now, not content with sending business to distraction with their lack of a health strategy, they are set to let ideology rule and rush us out of the EU transition period. Many firms, especially small ones, don’t have the bandwidth to deal with the mass of paperwork that is the price of us leaving the EU, as well as the pandemic.

Thank heavens for the small comfort given by the Chancellor. The furlough scheme could not be carried on indefinitely and it is true the job support scheme is far less generous. But along with the extension of Bounce Back Loan repayments and the extension of the VAT cut in the hospitality industry, there is hope that the expected huge increase in unemployment can be mitigated.

It seems the Chancellor want to let “zombie” jobs go whilst his measures protect those with a real future. I fear that there will be plenty of jobs going that would have been completely viable but for the pandemic

NEW LEADERSHIP.

It was a shame we couldn’t have all been in Liverpool for Sir Keir Starmer’s first conference as Labour leader. The virtual conference prevented the dynamics that make such occasions come alive. I imagine Liverpool born Unite leader Len McClusky would have been using the conference fringe to denounce the “New Leadership” slogan as meaningless. Instead he had to do it in a TV studio.

Len it was a good statement of intent. It means that the incompetent regime of Corbyn has been consigned to history, that Labour will no longer flirt with ultra-leftism as it starts on the long road back to power.

Sir Keir’s statement that “we love our country” was really important. For Labour to have any hope of regaining its northern strength, it must recognise the deep patriotism of the working class.

Doncaster was a good idea for the speech’s location as it remains the case that Sir Keir sits for a north London seat not far from Jeremy Corbyn. To counter that the party put forward three formidable northern women all week on the media. Deputy leader Angela Raynor, Wigan’s Lisa Nandy and Wirral’s Alison McGovern all did well. They had to fend off criticism that Labour wasn’t clear on its policies. They had the correct answer that now is not the time for that. The task is just to get a hearing and I think Labour may get that after their virtual conference

The Lib Dems are up next with their new leader Ed Davey and a 6% showing in the opinion polls.

FAREWELL SIR HAROLD EVANS.

Harry Evans was one of this country’s great journalists. Unafraid to stand up the Rupert Murdoch, he was, at the Sunday Times, the driving force behind the campaign for justice for people harmed by the thalidomide drug.

Born in Eccles, he failed his 11plus but got a job on a weekly paper in Ashton under Lyme. He rose to be assistant editor of the Manchester Evening News, and then editor of the Northern Echo and the Sunday Times.

He later went to America where he continued to support the cause of campaigning journalism in the age of Trump.