OPINION - The Standard View: Biden must accept reality: he can’t win

 (Joe Biden)
(Joe Biden)

It has taken actor George Clooney to articulate the truth that most Democrat political leaders won’t: Joe Biden must go. In an article in the New York Times, he said the Biden he met recently was not the Biden of 2010 — “he wasn’t even the Joe Biden of 202 ... we are not going to win in November with this president”.

By contrast, former speaker Nancy Pelosi more cautiously said: “It’s up to the president to decide whether to run”, ignoring his insistence that he was determined to run. There is unusual interest in his speech to Nato leaders today, not for what he says about US support for Nato, but about how coherently he says it.

In Britain, our political leaders are more sensitive. The so-called men in suits, delivering unpalatable truths to untenable prime ministers, can make even the most recalcitrant leave office: witness Liz Truss’s departure. Biden should have the humility to realise that he is a liability to his party, that he should yield to a better candidate. It would be the brave and honourable thing to do.

Down the drain

Ofwat, the water regulator, has today flexed its muscles by rejecting Thames Water’s request for a 44 per cent increase in bills. It was right to do so. But the figure that was agreed, 23 per cent — or £99 — over the next five years, still represents an insult to customers. They might expect to receive a good service for their money. Instead their cash seems to be propping up a struggling business in an industry that is still dishing out billions of pounds of dividends to shareholders and bonuses to executives.

The quid pro quo for this increase must be improved service and cleaner waterways. Ofwat was also correct to make the point today that Thames Water’s customers cannot be expected to pay for debts racked up by poor management. The company has accrued £16 billion of debt, despite having been sold in 1989 with no debt at all. The almighty mess that Thames Water has landed itself in is the company’s, not customers’, responsibility to fix. The special measures must work and be seen to work. Thames Water executives would be fooling themselves if they believe customers, politicians or the public will accept anything less.

A deserved triumph

The Art Fund Museum Award has gone to the Young V&A, the most joyous museum in the world, which just celebrated its first birthday. Among its strong points is the use of artefacts from the huge V&A collection in the installations, which means the young can get used to seeing beautiful and old objects from an early age. It is fun for toddlers; stimulating for teenagers. It deserves the prize.