Star comment: Farewell to straight-talking Betty

A report shows that we do not trust politicians.

Betty Boothroyd
Betty Boothroyd

Given the recent leadership of both Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, that’s hardly surprising.

The former partied and then was economical with the truth, while the latter crashed the economy and said she didn’t realise that was the likely outcome of her too-far, too-fast policies.

Other politicians, meanwhile, have found themselves censured after being caught with their noses in the trough. Instances of poor behaviour, bullying and sexual misconduct are also rife in the Westminster bubble.

Even our present Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, who provides a welcome break with the recent past, has found himself in hot water over the tax affairs and business dealings of his family.

Against the backdrop of scandal, sleaze, and salaciousness, we might consider someone who rose above the fray. The former West Bromwich MP Betty Boothroyd was a trailblazer and record-breaking. While serving her West Midland constituency with a rare distinction, she also broke through the glass ceiling in a field dominated by men.

Becoming Speaker in the House of Commons, she ruled with good humour and dignity.

Warm tributes have been made to her, as she has been described as a “stern, noisy but always affable and homely disciplinarian of MPs”. She was a straight-talking, straightforward politician, who was in politics for the right reasons.

It is wrong to tar all politicians with the same brush. Most MPs want to make a difference. But the behaviour of some lets the rest down and the public has every right to have lost confidence.

It is a shame Betty is no longer around to knock them into shape.


Energy companies have been laughing all the way to the bank since Putin invaded Ukraine. Windfall profits arose from disruptions to the global supply chain and as the world got to grips with fossil fuels, the middle men made a packet.

They continue to take us for mugs as new research shows that diesel prices are far higher than they should be, when wholesale prices are taken into account. Meanwhile, we are promised light at the end of the tunnel with home energy bills – although prices will rise in the short term because of the price cap being less generous.

There is always a lag between changes to wholesale prices and consumer prices. Providers will cash in at our expense. The RAC is the latest consumer body to point out the unfairness of the situation, but it appears its protestations will fall on deaf ears.

Maybe a profit tax would penalise greed and help the needy.

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