Truss Yet AgainOh, you bastard! Does Liz Truss think I’ve got nothing better to do? Barely has the imaginary ink dried on the post I published yesterday, and now I’m back to document a fall from (dis)grace that we all knew was inevitable, yet one I could’ve done with 24 hours’ breathing space to prepare for. Minus the partridge in a pear tree Harvey Proctor wryly referenced on Twitter yesterday, we’ve had four Chancellors, three Home Secretaries, two Prime Ministers and two monarchs since July. No, doesn’t sound very ‘strong and stable’, does it? Just as well the country is so united and in such a healthy state at the moment, else all this could be cause for concern. Yes, the Daily Star’s live-stream on YT, which positioned a lettuce alongside a photograph of the Prime Minister to see which of the two would enjoy the longest lifespan, has proven to be a more accurate barometer of our turbulent times than any boring old political TV show you’d care to mention. Take that, Peston! I mean, as Mudplugger himself pointed out in a comment less than 24 hours ago, this Whitehall farce would be side-splitting were the ramifications of it not so worrying for the British people.

So, Liz Truss has fallen on her Prime Ministerial sword after a mere 44 days at No.10. What a remarkable administration she’s presided over: The shortest-serving Home Secretary since 1783; the shortest-serving Chancellor of the Exchequer whose career wasn’t curtailed by the Grim Reaper; and now the shortest-serving Prime Minister in UK history. The previous holder of this record was our old friend George Canning, whose 119 days in office were prematurely ended by his death; but his immediate successor, the Viscount Goderich, had the shortest run as PM of anyone who walked away from the job alive until Liz Truss. He lasted 144 days, which now sounds like quite an impressive term of office compared to the current crop of Ministers. What’s interesting looking at the bottom of the pops, though, is that, of the ten shortest-serving PMs only one – Sir Alec Douglas-Home in 1964 – was actually forced to leave the job courtesy of a people’s vote, i.e. a General Election. The rest resigned, were replaced, or died. And those stats aren’t about to alter with this latest change of leader; for the fourth occasion in a row, a tiny elite of Tory MPs and Party members will choose our next PM. This is just becoming ridiculous.

Even the 1922 Committee recognises nobody will tolerate yet another lengthy leadership contest so soon after the last one, so it seems a swift coronation is in order that promises to install Truss’s replacement by 28 October. The mechanics of this appear to be being made up on the spot, so no one really knows yet if those who received the silver and bronze medals in the summer will automatically qualify for some sort of instant playoff final. Either way, it looks as though it’ll probably be Rishi Sunak or Penny Mordaunt standing at the battered Downing Street lectern by this time next week, for the Chancellor of less than a week has apparently ruled himself out of the contest. But it is interesting just how easily a party leader and PM can be forced out by the combination of an internal rebellion and a mainstream media sympathetic to the rebels’ cause. The powers invested in the Prime Minister must be very limited indeed if all this can happen so quickly after it last happened, rendering he or she little more than a constitutional sovereign as opposed to an Absolute Monarch; the idea that the Conservative Party can do to Liz Truss what it did to her two immediate predecessors – and do it in the space of just 44 bloody days – begs the question, what is the point of having a Prime Minister at all?

The system for electing a Tory leader must be at fault too, for the Tories appear to have been lumbered with a leader none of them really wanted – or at least a vast proportion of them didn’t. Naturally, none of this would make much difference beyond Tory circles if they weren’t in government, of course; we all remember how Iain Duncan Smith was unceremoniously ousted once it dawned on the Party that it had made a mistake, but the damage done by both electing and then axing him was only felt by the Party; Labour were still in power, Blair was still PM, and the Tories were a joke, a feeble shadow of the once-dominant force in British politics and utterly unelectable. It’s a totally different picture when the kind of shambolic chopping and changing we’ve seen over the past five or six years is made by the actual Government; when this is the case, it doesn’t just impact on Tory MPs or Tory Party members; it impacts on everybody. If there’s constant instability at the centre of British political life, it spreads out from Westminster like the ricocheting ripples on the surface of a lake as a pebble skims across it. People are already in a state of acute anxiety over so many issues that government is supposed to be there to deal with on our behalf; and these issues are not being dealt with because there’s no bloody stability at the centre of British political life.

An early General Election would undoubtedly give the impression that here is the one opportunity the people have to get involved in a process that currently seems to be the exclusive property of the Conservative Party. But a ‘Crisis Election’ doesn’t necessarily work as a cure-all, overnight panacea. The great gamble of February 1974 that cost Ted Heath the premiership when he still had over a year before he had to call an Election was Heath’s ill-advised attempt to assert his authority over a particular trade union – the NUM – that had already humiliated him; the gamble backfired for Ted, as we all know, but what followed was five years of Labour administrations that struggled to improve the lives of the British people, and ended crashing and burning in the Winter of Discontent, ultimately giving us Mrs Thatcher and everything good and bad that reign entailed. Fast-forward to the ‘Crisis Election’ of December 2019; it may have seen an overwhelming rejection of the Remoaner elite and delivered the Tories a landslide; but look where we are now, less than three years later. What a waste.

There’s absolutely no guarantee a snap Election will make Britain Great Again; a Labour Government will simply inherit the shit the Tories have spent the last 12 years depositing on all our doorsteps; and few outside of the Labour Party have much faith that Starmer and his cronies are capable of clearing up the mess without adding to it. Yes, it will unquestionably be a relief to see the back of this shower, and who indeed would mourn their loss? But the notion that kicking out the Tories will somehow lead to an instant replay of ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ is pure fantasy. But then, all of this speculation is based on the slim chance that whoever the Tories push forward next week will have the balls to put choice back in the hands of the electorate – and it’s hard to see that happening right now. Mind you, who could’ve predicted the events of the past month or so when that famous photo was published of the two Elizabeths, the one that captured the moment when Boris’s replacement shook hands with the ailing Queen? Seems like so much longer ago than 44 days, doesn’t it.

As has been pointed out before, the dearth of great men and women in politics today is indisputable, and it’s certainly evident on the Tory frontbench; the fact Liz Truss had to recall a pair of lightweight has-beens like Jeremy Hunt and Grant Shapps in a desperate attempt to reverse her dwindling authority showed how little talent was available to her. In that sense, it’s no wonder a dud so lacking in gravitas, intelligence and political nous as Liz Truss ended up as PM; it’s no wonder she ended up making such a mess of everything from the off; and it’s no wonder she ended up walking the plank a mere 44 days into the job.

© The Editor




2 thoughts on “DELIVERANCE

  1. After the accidental elevation of Temporary Truss, it seems that Tory High Command has neatly implemented a quite different selection process, clearly designed to avoid repetition.

    You may validly criticise the previous contest for only involving a relatively small number of Conservative Party members, but the next one is unlikely even to reach that minority electorate. With around 350 MPs in the initial sorting process and a threshold of 100 nominations for any candidate to progress, it seems mathematically unlikely that more than one will cross that limit on Monday, leading to a ‘coronation’ of the highest scorer without needing to trouble the wider party membership at all. The electorate thus shrinks dramatically and the management gets what it wants.

    And even if two contenders were to emerge, one suspects that there is a background plan to ‘do a Leadsom’ and persuade the runner-up to withdraw gracefully from any final run-off, in exchange for a quietly compensatory honour or peerage in due course.

    Who will win is one question, who would want to win is another. Given the challenge of facing a general election in around two years and the unmanageable uncertainties which any new prime minister will face, it looks very much like a poisoned chalice – the smart players, like Jeremy Typing-Error, choosing to by-pass this questionable opportunity to avoid the contamination of defeat, he may not be alone.

    None of which will help protect the most vulnerable across the land from the consequences of this shit-show hitting them hard and long. Apparently that’s less important.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Since writing (which, unsurprisingly, I embarked upon at breakneck pace) I’ve subsequently discovered the nature of the latest leadership contest and how, as you point out, the casting votes are now reduced to an even smaller number of lucky people. From what I can gather, last time round it appears the membership swung it for the unfortunate Ms Truss whereas the MPs favoured Rishi. That considered, removing the membership from the equation seems to leave the field clear for one particular contender. Then again, Ms Mordaunt received plaudits for her performance sans swimsuit the other day, so who knows?

      Incidentally, considering how quickly Boris’s lockdown story has been dramatised on TV, I wonder how long we’ll have to wait for the inevitable Truss drama. Chances are its running time may well be longer than her premiership.


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