At 12:30 on the 5th of September 2022, the Conservative Party bestowed on the country what it never knew it needed: Liz Truss, a woman of such greatness that she doesn’t even need to be elected by the general public as Prime Minister by the country.
So, welcome! Although there’s little prospect of a honeymoon in a country undergoing a terrifying rise in the cost of living, where the NHS waiting list sits just under 7 million, where drought has ravaged for several weeks (proving, perhaps, some divinely authored pathetic fallacy for the recent leadership debates) and where widespread strikes are becoming increasingly disruptive — and show a workforce fed up with being ignored by a stale government.
No, this is not a honeymoon — but the quick change from a Summer of Governmental Inaction to a Winter of Discontent.
So, what can we expect? Liz Truss is more keen on cuts than a bloodletter; to the extent that Paul Johnson, of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, has suggested that her economic plans would ‘completely crash the public finances’. Her cuts to National Insurance—proposed because of her apparent commitment to the poorest — will, the New Statesman’s Duncan Weldon has calculated, only benefit the poorest by 76p a month. But at least this will add to the money saved by Boris Johnson’s wily suggestion that we all buy new electric kettles (has he, I wonder, been lobbied by Currys/PC World?). But, as 12 years of Conservative government has shown, a generalised approach to cuts is anything but useful. We need look no further than her own cuts, under the aegis of austerity, as Minister for DEFRA. There, from 2014 – 2016, she cut £235 million from the Environment Agency’s funding, which affected the surveillance of water companies to prevent the dumping of raw sewage in Britain’s waters … Because of Liz Truss and her cuts, one swimmer in Somerset’s River Tone discovered ‘huge poo islands’. Alongside this, she is so obsessed with the word ‘Growth’ that the only resolution which presents itself to me is taxpayer funding for her husband’s viagra subscription.
Diplomacy will find itself a far cry from its eagerly anticipated Post-Brexit ‘golden age’. ‘The jury is still out’ on whether the French President, Emmanuel Macron, is ‘friend or foe’; Nicola Sturgeon is merely ‘an attention seeker’; and Brits should go and fight in Ukraine against the Russian Invasion. Her style of discourse is brash antagonism, and when put on the spot by interviewers or audience questions, she tends to speak in such a way. When she speaks there is a sense that she is only five questions away from serious antagonism and diplomatic feud. This is why she tends to shy away from interviews and media scrutiny.
According to IPSOS, over half of the population want a General Election; over half of Conservative and three-quarters of Labour voters are in favour of the nationalisation of Energy; and a majority of the population supports strikes. It is quite clear that as the government speeds to the right, the country lurches leftwards.
But, I wonder, can we really expect anything? The one lesson from Truss’ political career is that her views and principles will always adapt to suit the furtherance of her political ambitions. Should we, then, expect her to run as a Labour candidate in the next General Election.