This Conservative government is literally killing us. I wish that was just rhetorical hyperbole, but sadly it’s a stark and cruel truth. Researchers based in Glasgow have calculated that due to the Tory austerity policies which slashed billions of pounds from social security payments and public services that between 2012-2019, almost 335,000 more people died between 2012 and 2019 than would have been expected across the UK based on previous trends between 1981 and 2011.
As Liz Truss is wont to say, That. Is. A. Disgrace. However we all know that she won’t be saying it about the devastation and despair her party has created, certainly not when she has Austerity 2.0 in mind in order to pay her tax cuts which disproportionately benefit the wealthy. This number does not include the excess deaths caused by the British Government’s woeful mishandling of the covid crisis. When Better Together made their pitch to Scotland in the referendum campaign of 2014 they didn’t say, Vote no so that more of you can die, but tragically that is exactly what has happened.
The report’s co-author Prof Ruth Dundas, Professor of Social Epidemiology at the University of Glasgow told the Herald newspaper: “This study shows that in the UK a great many more deaths are likely to have been caused by UK Government economic policy than by the Covid-19 pandemic.” To which all that can be said is : “Are you Yes yet?”
Today Liz Truss gave her first speech as party leader to the Conservative party conference. It could very well be her last. It was the typical monotone and stilted speak your weight machine performance we have come to expect from Truss, full of outright lies and unintentional self-owns. The most exciting thing about it was that it was interrupted by two Greenpeace protestors brandishing a sign saying Who voted for this. The sign was quickly ripped away, only for the protestors to bring out another, showing that they had more foresight and preparation than the woman robotically intoning content free slogans on the main stage.
Perhaps the only saving grace was that she didn’t mention pork markets. She claimed to be the first Prime Minister to have gone to a comprehensive school, which must come as news to Gordon Brown and Theresa May, both of whom were educated at state comprehensives. Truss talked about how she had witnessed poverty, social exclusion and economic stagnation in Leeds and Paisley in the 1980s and 1990s, and how she saw struggling families and people who had lost all hope, she told us this experience informed her politics now. The big problem with that is that there was a Conservative government throughout that period, Truss seeks to emulate the very worst of Thatcher’s policies. Presumably what she means is that she is determined to repeat that miserable experience for a new generation.
Naturally Truss couldn’t resist a dig at Nicola Sturgeon, trying to lay the blame for the energy crisis in Scotland at the door of the Scottish Government for refusing to build new nuclear power plants. Scotland is a major energy producer, exporting both gas and electricity to England, Scotland is able to meet all its domestic electricity needs from Scottish produced renewable energy resources and still to produce a large surplus. Scotland also remains a significant producer of oil and gas. However energy policy is reserved to Westminster which has insisted on tying the price of electricity to the price of gas on the international markets in order to protect the energy companies, even though this is more expensive for the ordinary consumer. Scotland has no need for new nuclear power plants. Scotland does not have an energy crisis, it has a Conservative Government crisis.
Truss and her party blame shirkers for not working hard enough to make the British economy a success. The people who are shirkers are not the ones on benefits who are often working but just do not earn enough. The shirkers are those in Tory party pilfering the public purse to enrich their wealthy cronies at a cost which is counted in actual death.
Meanwhile Home Secretary Suella Braverman has said that her ‘dream’ is to see a front page headline in the Telegraph over a photo of a plane taking asylum seekers to Rwanda. If your dream is someone else’s nightmare, it is safe to say that something is very very wrong with you on the level of basic human decency.
Of course the assorted talking Tory heads will have praised Truss’s speech. They did the exact same thing following Iain Duncan Smith’s speech to the Conservative party conference in 2003, but that didn’t stop them from turfing him out as party leader within a few weeks and replacing him with the even more useless Michael Howard. Truss’s plodding and pedestrian speech was short on ideas and contained absolutely nothing to broaden her appeal within her own fractured party never mind to endear her to a wider public which has already made up its mind on her and decided that they don’t like what they see.
Far more important than the opinions of Truss loyalists, a poll out today has found that Truss is less popular with voters than Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn at their lowest ebb, new polling shows. Truss’s net favourability score has plunged by 28 points to -59 in less than a fortnight, according to the latest poll from YouGov. The lowest score ever recorded for Johnson was -53 while even Jeremy Corbyn never went lower than -55.
Even more alarmingly for the Conservatives, twice as many Conservative voters (60%) have an unfavourable view of the Prime Minister than a positive view (30%). Truss is clearly a big vote loser for the Tories. Another poll out today gives Labour an enormous lead of 38% over the Conservatives in the critical so-called ‘red wall’ seats which were vital to the Conservative victory in the 2019 General Election. That’s an increase for Labour over the Tories of 15% since the last red wall poll just two weeks ago.
These are polling levels which the Conservatives are going to struggle to turn around before the next General Election and which they will certainly be unable to make much of a dent in as long as they are lumbered with a massively unpopular leader with all the charisma of an abandoned mattress. Truss did say that she didn’t mind being unpopular, she has been a disaster at everything else in her short time in office, but as far as unpopularity is concerned she’s a runaway winner. Let’s just hope she doesn’t kill too many more of us before she’s booted out of office.
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