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The Liz Truss Disaster Show

Never underestimate the power of failure. As the Liz Truss Disaster Show demonstrates, the next pitfall is probably just around the corner. The UK Prime Minister has shown, along with her distinctly oblivious Chancellor of the Exchequer, how to balls up the economy in the shortest timeframe imaginable.

Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s “mini-Budget” delivered on September 30, designed to evade the eagles at the Office of Budget Responsibility, was greeted with shock from the market boys and girls to the chattering classes. The Bank of England took it upon itself to exercise some sober restraint in the face of rampant fiscal recklessness.

The ailing British pound received another battering on October 5 after Truss’s speech at the Conservative Party conference. It had risen relative to the US dollar on October 3 in response to the decision to abandon the policy of removing the top 45p tax rate, only to suffer another precipitous decline.

Her comically abysmal, half-hour speech, delivered to party members increasingly unsettled by her recent performances, was peppered with ideological dross and economic denialism. Conservatism, she stated, was about “a belief in freedom, in fair play and the great potential of the British people.” She was “not interested in how many two-for-one offers” a person bought from the supermarket or “how you spend your spare time, or in virtue signalling.”

What did interest her was attacking the “anti-growth coalition”, a mysterious cabal that has it in for the British economy. They comprised Labor, the Liberal Democrats, and the Scottish Nationalist Party, not to mention the unions, the talking heads, the Brexit deniers, Extinction rebellion and “some of the people we had in the hall earlier.”

This was a coalition on the warpath, spreading its wings, busying itself wanting more taxes and restraining economic gain. And they would dare express such views in the BBC offices. To combat such forces, she offered an unconvincing, managerially massaged formula: growth, growth and growth. Explaining the decision to reverse the scrapping of the 45p rate of income tax as something of a distraction, Truss insisted that low taxes was the way to go. Stamp duty, the basic rate of income tax, and the corporate tax rate would be cut, while the rise in national insurance would be reversed.

In trying to sound chummier with voters, she went for the personal touch. “I have fought to get where I am today.” She had “juggled” her career while raising her two daughters. She had “seen people left with no hope turning to drugs” and “families struggling to put food on the table.” Interestingly enough, the period during which these things took place was one marked by divisive, ruinous Tory rule.

A peculiar touch came with recalling what seemed to be a particularly scarring incident. Poor Liz recalled “as a young girl being presented on a plane with a ‘Junior Air Hostess’ badge. Meanwhile, my brothers were given ‘Junior Pilot’ badges. It wasn’t the only time in my life that I have been treated differently for being female or for not fitting in.” Never fear, it made the psychologically wounded aspirant “determined”.

The awfulness of the dull display would have been more complete had it not been interrupted by two young boisterous women from Greenpeace holding the yellow sign sporting the words “Who Voted For This?” This galvanised the conference attendees, who managed to turn on the protestors with envigored venom.

 

 

In the end, the words from Truss hardly mattered, their inconsequential sprinkles vanishing down the drainpipe of vacant rhetoric. There was no plan for generating actual economic growth. There was nothing to address the one fundamental problem the UK faces: that it invests too little.

For Iain Martin, writing in The Times, it would have made little difference even if the speech had been the movingly equivalent version of the Gettysburg Address, or something like the Sermon on the Mount. “[I]t would not have shifted the underlying reality.” That reality entailed one unmissable fact: the new Conservative leader is simply not liked.

Senior market analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, Susannah Streeter, humourlessly observed that Truss’s mention of one word three times did little to sway things. “She may have hoped that her triple promise of growth would have calmed markets further but with nothing new to offer on the table, her words have not had the desired effect so far.”

The Truss Disaster Show has even left a number of conservatives worried, even panicked. According to Paul Goodman, editor of Conservative Home, she has been left with no good options. Sticking to her mini-Budget measures would guarantee defeat in the Commons, thereby eroding her authority. Abandoning them would have much the same effect.

The Spectator has also been running a number of querying meditations and the decline and fall of the new PM. “There’s something not entirely grown up about the Prime Minister,” Lloyd Evans suggests. “She has a permanent air of naïve euphoria – like a bouncy new teacher taking the class on a jolly exciting trip.”

Barely into her prime ministership, Truss has laid the basis for its demise. When she and her party return to Westminster, the sense of vultures circling will be palpable. While recent years tell us that polls are nonsensical excursions of fancy, rarely to be trusted, it is hard to sense that the current figures are off. Should they remain at their current levels, a massacre at the ballot box is in the making.

 

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11 comments

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  1. leefe

    Confidence and blather are not enough, it seems, although they worked for Boris for a shockingly long time.

  2. Andrew James Smith

    Bit rich for conservative media e.g. The Spectator, to be critical of Truss when they are partially responsible for ‘Trussonomics’ or more to the point, promoting imported US ‘Kochonomics’ along with disruptions in the Tories, Parliament and the national electorate, while platforming and/or ditching Tory leaders; backgrounded by compliant media not asking questions and avoiding the obvious.

    The Tories have become beholden to imported US radical right libertarian policies via Tufton St. think tanks which are now in the news e.g. BBC, finally. ByLine Times and other indie media have been onto to it for several years https://bylinetimes.com/2022/10/04/the-tentacles-of-tufton-street-think-tank-alumni-handed-top-government-roles/

    However, what Truss has made apparent is how hollowed out, like the GOP & LNP, the Tories have become when no one in the Parties really seem to know what is going on? For example, UK Tories where is the cabinet, senior Ministers giving advice and independent advisors (now think tank grads…)? Where is the Downing Street Policy Unit which Cameron had used for policy but replaced by Tufton St. since?

    FInally, some very hard questions to be asked of Tories, media and think tanks at Tufton, who funds the latter when there have been allegations made of Russian influence round Brexit and the Tories; yet to be resolved let alone investigated well?

  3. L.S.Roberts

    This whole charade and beauty contest which has taken two months off an idle parliament in total stagnation is something of a set up.
    May I humbly suggest that the perpetrator is no other than one Mister Alexander Johnson who works under the name of “Boris” because it has 5 letters and so did the adoptive names of Adolph and Joseph who both found 5 letter names work.

    The sister of Mister Johnson claims that he has been after world domination since he was six years old. Another comeback kid with strange ambitions is Donald who’s sister says something similar and I suspect that our Mister Dutton is just keeping the seat warm for our very own megalomaniac eagle whisperer to attempt a second coming.

  4. Harry Lime

    The long running farce that is Pommie Politics is pure Goon Show with a slew of new characters.Sellars, Harry and Spike would have loved it.

  5. New England Cocky

    I agree with Greenpeace, Kamakazi Kwateng needs to go back to high school economics and learn that the UBI keeps the economy afloat while neo-liberal ”trickle down economics” is both a proven failure & a self-serving farce.

    @ Harry Lime: That is a bit unfair Harry. The Goons were the best ever English comedy show that ran continuously on ABC radio for over 50 years. Perhaps the only redeeming feature of Chuckles 3 is that he was a dedicated Goons fan. The Goons knew exactly where they were going in each episode – to the end. It was just the route given on the script frequently overlooked the many detours.

  6. leefe

    The Goon Show was far more believeable and coherent than the performances coming out of Westminster these days.

  7. Kathryn

    More and yet MORE proof that anything and everything totally corrupt, greedy, self-serving, ultra-conservative right-wing extremists say is a bald faced lie and EVERYTHING they touch turns to sh*t in record time! You can’t trust prosperity-driven, inhumane, right-wing conservatives (whether they be Tories, Republicans or signed-up lunatics in the LNP) as far as you can kick ’em!

  8. GL

    New England Cocky @6:44 am,

    I would have been more interested in seeing what Peter Sellers would have done with Truss. He was a brilliant voice and character impersonator.

  9. Phil Pryor

    Truss is yet another in western type politics who has never worked, never succeeded, never committed, never told unnecessary truths and has managed to con others and climbed the greasy pole of success. There are deep worrying social deficiencies here. What do people actually know, comprehend, want, know they need? Where is the vision, decency, fairness, inclusiveness, empathy?

  10. Canguro

    George Monbiot nails it, again. The shitshow that is the Truss government is neither farcical, Goon show like, a romp in the woods by a bunch of political naifs or anything resembling a passing giggle; it’s an actual real-time unfolding disaster for millions of ordinary Britons, folks like you and me, people who for unfathomable reasons were blindsided into re-electing a Conservative government at the last general poll. Unfathomable.

  11. Harry Lime

    I take back what I said about the Goons,this is far more sinister.The Trusster has just fired Kamikaze Kwarteng.I believe she was aiming at herself, but missed,again.She’s on stolen time.Is there anyone worse to lead the Brits?Surely they’re at rock bottom now.Or are they? Stay tuned for the next riveting chapter of “Death in the Shadows of Big Ben”

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