Star comment: Welcome steps on road to the new normal

Things have been so bad over the last couple of years that any glimmer of light which peeks through the dark clouds should not be confused with the imminent arrival of, well, sunlit uplands.

British manufacturing grew faster in December than expected
British manufacturing grew faster in December than expected

Nevertheless it would be churlish not to recognise cautious grounds for optimism in the news that British manufacturing grew faster in December than had been first thought, amid signs that the supply chain crisis may be easing.

And maybe we can hope that the Omicron variant currently sweeping through the population like a tidal wave will be followed by an equally dramatic receding of this tide as the pandemic becomes a largely spent force.

These are dreams which must be tempered by some realities. Those who have been protected artificially from the impact of the mayhem on the energy markets are in for a shock when the cork holding in the contents of this bottle is blown skywards in only a few weeks’ time.

They may face a choice of eating, or heating. Inflation is going up, hitting those on benefits or who struggle to make ends meet. Supermarket shelves will be full as the supply problems disappear, but not everybody will be able to afford to buy.

Rising costs and frozen, or falling, household income add up to a fall in living standards. The protective umbrellas which were raised to help people through the crisis are steadily being packed away, leaving many folk exposed.

Signs of things getting better are welcome. There has been a yearning to get back to normal.

But whatever normal we end up with in 2022 will be a very different normal to that of the last “normal” year, 2019.

Leading in the polls, Sir Keir Starmer came to Birmingham to make his pitch to British voters.

A responsible, patriotic, trustworthy Labour Party, headed by a leader comfortable with the Tony Blair – sorry, that’s Sir Tony Blair now – legacy.

Sir Keir will have a solemn contract with the British people. He pledges Security. Prosperity. Respect.

His speech contained lots of comforting and reassuring buzz words and buzz phrases.

What has to be added to the mix before the next general election is some buzz policies.

It is then that things will truly become interesting, particularly as the Tories under Boris Johnson are a high tax, high spend, party.

Sir Keir can hardly expect the British public to sign up to his contract until he starts laying out his terms and conditions in black and white.

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