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Casting Malevolent Shadows: Liz Truss Wins the Tory Leadership

10 Downing Street is set to be bathed in social media guff with the victory of Liz Truss. Confirmed as Boris Johnson’s successor, the new British Prime Minister won by a slimmer margin over rival contender Rishi Sunak than anticipated. Nonetheless, 81,326 votes to 60,399 was sufficient to guarantee her a secure margin – for the moment. (The turnout had been 83 per cent.)

There is little doubt that the Tory selectorate – a good deal of it – seem to adore her. That hardly makes them, or her, representative of a broader constituency, and certainly the same constituency that voted for Johnson in 2019. Certain conservative voices have even warned that the Tory party now resembles, in part, the Labour Party of Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn stormed through the ranks with an adoring base of party supporters and ideological brio. The broader electorate were not quite so enamoured.

The challenges the new prime minister faces are biting. The country is facing energy bills Truss has herself described as “eye-watering”. But despite this, she is willing to deliver £30 billion in tax cuts via an emergency budget and a reversal of April’s rise in National Insurance. Betraying a characteristically woolly understanding of economics, notably on progressive taxation, she sees no problem about the accrued benefits to higher-income earners. “The people at the top of the income distribution pay more tax – so inevitably, when you cut taxes you tend to benefit the people who are more likely to pay tax.” That’s sorted then.

Over the weekend, a promise was given of some emergency plan that would emerge within a week of her taking office, with a specific focus on targeting the sharp spike of energy bills. This would go “hand in hand” with a plan to increase domestic energy supplies. All of this was vague compared to Sunak’s promises to provide relief to pensioners and the low-paid from rising energy costs while also cutting Value Added Tax on energy bills.

BBC’s Newsnight, in an effort to get a sense of what the UK is in for, trotted out a few Conservative views favourable to Truss as the flexible, adjustable figure. Baroness Morgan of Coates predicts “a combination of approaches” that would make it hard to “pigeonhole” Truss. The editor of the Conservative Home website, Paul Goodman, noted her “adaptability” over the course of her political life. “So although she has this reputation as an ideologue and she has very clear ideological roots – originally as a Liberal Democrat – she is somehow the darling of the Leavers who in the [Brexit] referendum was a Remainer.”

What was striking, and utterly deceptive, was the effort by Truss to show herself as a changeling of sorts, rather than a figure of a dying status quo. This, despite being a Cabinet member for ten years. Sunak, despite being comparatively new, was given the touch-up of status quo inflexibility, one padded by expensive suits and tastes. It did not matter that he seemed, at least relatively speaking, less inscrutable and more focused on the immediate crisis.

In her speech of uneven quality and many fictions, Truss doffed her cap to Johnson in a tribute that can only trouble those who wished him gone for good. “Boris, you got Brexit done. You crushed Jeremy Corbyn. You rolled out the vaccine. And you stood up to Vladimir Putin. You are admired from Kyiv to Carlisle.”

Hardly agreed upon history, but it seemed to be an infection coursing through the ranks. Thanks were also given to Johnson by the Tory party co-chair, Andrew Stephenson, suggesting an outbreak of masochism.

Through this, both the disgraced Johnson and his opponents in the Labour Party will be holding out hope. Truss was critical of those who removed him for the number of calamities he inflicted upon himself, his party and the British public. And then there was that bitter distinctly non-concessional speech by Johnson, taking aim at the vicious, knife-bearing “herd instinct” that had robbed him of office.

Johnson’s supporters are promising to be a disruptive bunch. Many have already put out teasing feelers suggesting a return when the time is right. Johnson’s former chief of staff, Lord Udny-Lister, is one willing to wager that Johnson “is going to be watching all of this and if something happens in the future […] the ball comes loose in the scrum, then anything can happen.”

The Sunday Mirror has reported that 12 Tory MPs are willing to submit letters to the 1922 Committee to express no confidence in the incoming prime minister – and this, even before Truss sets foot in 10 Downing Street. For Jake Berry, MP for Rossendale and Darwen in Lancashire, such a move was “certainly suicidal”, while former Conservative chancellor Lord Hammond warned Johnson not to linger like a “malevolent shadow”.

The Truss factor has also given British Labour a boost of seven percentage points. Party strategists, as part of this bounce, have already readied a campaign in the so-called Red Wall seats, using previous, leaked remarks from Truss about how British workers produced “less per hour” than their foreign equivalents, “and that’s a combination of, kind of, skill and application.” But opinion polls do not deliver election victories. The Tory party machine, cunning, ruthless and mendacious, does at least know something about that.


Image from (Photo supplied by the Labour Party)



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  1. Phil Pryor

    Some info, opinion, facts on this awkward position would be welcome, received happily, for Truss seems to be the most defective, untrustworthy, inadequate U K leader since…since.., Boris (?) Why does a nation facing further decline, hardship, inequality, irrelevance and contrived unfairness turn to a lady of no consistency, record, diplomacy? She has recast herself in egotistical ambition. When she was in Australia recently, she blathered rubbish at no cost to her but threatening and smearing to us and to our regional reputation (do we have one?) From Walpole to Truss is a trajectory of a fatal dive…with the ghosts of such as Gladstone, Disraeli, Asquith, Lloyd George, Churchill (yes) and Attlee frowning, cursing. For the sake of the U K, we wish her well.

  2. GL

    Um, they have just installed this ding-a-ling as Prime Minister? Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear…

  3. Andrew J. Smith

    She has been described by New European, Open Democracy and Byline Times as ‘The Tufton St. candidate’.

    Tufton St. is where several libertarian Koch ‘Atlas’ Network think tanks inc. IEA (equivalent of IPA), Taxpayers’ Alliance, Global Warming Policy Foundation – Net Zero Watch etc., and nativist Tanton Network linked charity/NGO Migration Watch, reside offering policy input and media commentary.

    Liz Truss: The Tufton Street Candidate

  4. leefe

    You cannot help but pity a nation whose choice for PM should have been a diistant second to Rishi Sunak.

  5. L. S. Roberts

    Your missing the point

    As they say in Australia

    If you can’t score a goal

    Give the ball to a Shiela

  6. Andy56

    What a choice. Its between Mirrabella and Cash. Thars how a democracy desintegrates. The total disonance between the state of the nation and the ideologically brainwashed leaders.
    Let them eat cake. Has a nice ring to it.

  7. Arnd


    Um, they have just installed this ding-a-ling as Prime Minister?

    Not exactly the first ding-a-ling, though? It’s been a conga line of ding-a-lings since …, since …, since … – oh, I don’t know?

  8. Roswell

    The UK needs more than just a change of PM; it needs a change of government.

  9. wam

    A quick read shows how desperately the pomms need a woman.
    The queen gone will give her a quiet time to move.
    Good schools and no prick gives her a chance to break the pommie prejudice?

  10. Kathryn

    What is it about the gormless, ultra-conservative working- and middle-class fools in the UK who keep voting for the totally corrupt, born-to-rule elitists and classist snobs in the Tory movement over and over and over again? Are poor, disadvantaged and working-class Brits incapable of learning from their mistake in voting for a pack of condescending snobs who don’t give a rat’s behind about anyone but themselves?

    In so many ways, these misguided, social-climbing fools remind us of the type of Murdoch-manipulated, easily deluded right-wing suckers who keep on and on voting for the inept, totally depraved elitists in the LNP, Australia’s own version of the disreputable, condescending political parasites in the Tories! FFS, at NO TIME EVER did the LNP or the Tories EVER achieve a single thing that benefited or improved the lives of working or middle class citizens – EVER!

    Most Australians are grateful that we, as one of the most egalitarian nations on earth, try very hard NOT to maintain the horrific snobbish and classist culture so ingrained in the UK. This is WHY so many disgruntled, disenfranchised and under-represented British citizens are lined up to emigrate to our shores. However, notwithstanding this, if the contemptuous conceited elitists in the LNP had THEIR way, they would turn our nation into a British-styled Tory fiefdom where they, the worst most depraved political sociopaths in living memory, would like to be regarded as Australian “royalty” with massive, totally undeserved salary packages and benefits to match their stratospheric egos!


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