Ben Houchen, the Teesside mayor who was re-elected with a “whopping” 73% of the vote last week, has imagination, verve, and vision, says Will Hutton in The Observer. His “do it if it works” approach spans nationalising the local airport and creating the “deregulatory free-for-all” Teesside Freeport. He’s also getting on board with the green industrial revolution by setting up a plant to make wind turbines and backing a hydrogen transport hub. The result? A “self-reinforcing virtuous circle” of jobs and investment.
Voters “like what they see” – as does Boris Johnson, who has backed Houchen’s projects “to the hilt”. That’s the reason 750 Treasury jobs are being moved to Darlington rather than Leeds, the obvious northern centre. Labour will find it hard to paint Houchen as a “same old Tory”. Indeed, “Houchenism is a threat to Thatcherites, Blairites and Corbynites alike. It could even win 73% of the vote across Britain.”
Liz Cheney and the sins of her father
Liz Cheney, daughter of George W Bush’s vice president, has been removed from a Republican leadership post for criticising Donald Trump. But let’s acknowledge who “created the template for Trump’s Big Lie”, says Maureen Dowd in The New York Times: her father. “Because of 9/11, Dick Cheney thought he could suspend the constitution, attack nations pre-emptively and trample civil liberties in the name of the war on terror.” Liz was cheering from the sidelines all the way. Now the Trumpists rule the Republican roost, the “Bush-Cheney crowd” have inexplicably become “guardians of America’s moral authority. Complete with bloated TV and book contracts.”
Boris swerved a Keir and present danger
Clement Attlee was a “very visible part” of the wartime government, serving as deputy PM in charge of domestic affairs while Winston Churchill focused on beating Hitler. Attlee proceeded to use that profile to trounce Churchill in the 1945 general election, says Matthew d’Ancona in Tortoise. Boris Johnson was savvier: he rebuffed Keir Starmer’s attempts to join him and fight Covid in a bipartisan way. “There was never going to be any sharing of the limelight – and it paid off,” a shadow cabinet minister says.