Liz Truss has attempted to save her political career by throwing her Chancellor under the bus and sacking him for doing what she wanted him to do and making a screeching U-turn on her flagship policy, announcing that she will not after all be cutting Corporation Tax but will instead be going forward with the increase planned by Sunak and Johnson. Truss has just ripped up the policy which Tory party members elected her to deliver just a few weeks ago. This is a government in free fall. Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies thinktank, noted that reversing the decision not to raise corporation tax will not by itself fill the gap in the public finances created by the unfunded tax cuts in the mini-budget.
Truss’s press conference on Friday was only a few minutes long but still managed to be awkward and excruciating. Truss’s press team had clearly taken the decision that the less time she was exposed to the media the less damage she could do. There were no apologies, no explanations, no acknowledgement that anything that has happened over the past few weeks was in any way her fault. However in those brief few minutes she showed that she has no clue how to fund the tax cuts that she insists are necessary. Truss delivered a brief stilted statement,and looking like a terrified rabbit caught in the headlights with long and uncomfortable pauses as she scanned the journalists in attendance desperately looking for a friendly face. Unfortunately for her Vogue was not there.
She was asked why she wasn’t quitting as Prime Minister, and the prime architect of the economic chaos of the past couple of weeks said that she was staying to ensure ‘economic stability. Truss took just four questions, two from right-wing newspapers, one from the BBC and one from ITV, no follow up questions were allowed. And then she fled the room. Even those supposedly friendly faces asked difficult questions, Truss is not just brazenly incompetent – she’s a coward – she had lost the room, she has lost the country, and she has lost her party.
If you do a press conference at a time of crisis in your leadership like this, you stay and answer all the questions. Even Boris Johnson knew that. There was no opportunity to ask her what she meant about a controlling the size of the state and does this mean that there will be a return to spending cuts despite her assurance to the Commons on Wednesday that there would be none. In her brief time in office she has already made a number of major U-turns, no one should have any confidence that her promise not to cut public spending should be any different.
Kwarteng has been replaced by Jeremy Hunt, the fourth Chancellor in as many months, a decision that Hunt will certainly come to regret. Chancellor monthly, it’s the Tory party’s new magazine. Kwarteng is the second shortest serving Chancellor on record with just eight days longer in office than Conservative MP Iain Macleod who served only 30 days as Chancellor in 1970 before dying of a heart attack.
It’s not just Truss and Kwarteng who have ruined what little was left of their political credibility. It was only yesterday that Douglas Ross insisted that he had every confidence in the Prime Minister and the Chancellor and just a couple of weeks ago that he and the Scottish Conservatives were hailing the tax cutting mini budget and demanding that the Scottish Government copy it in full. You can be sure that BBC Scotland will be hounding him for a statement. Yeah. Right.
If Truss thought that blaming Kwarteng for a disaster she shares responsibility for was going to restore confidence in her leadership she is going to be sadly disappointed. Truss needed to deliver a reassuring performance at that press conference, but she did worse than anyone expected even given the low expectations we have come to have of her. Truss has no political authority left. She has no support amongst her own MPs, who are now happily leaking the private conversations in Conservative MP WhatsApp groups in which they plot the quickest way to get rid of her.
Even the staunch Truss backer Christopher Chope is in dismay after Truss’s abysmal performance, telling Times Radio the Tory party is a ‘laughing stock’ and the Conservative economic agenda is ‘trashed’, adding: ‘I don’t know where to go from here frankly.’
Truss needed her press conference to reassure three constituencies, the markets, Conservative MPs and the public. She failed to reassure the markets, she failed to reassure Tory MPs, and it’s highly unlikely that she will have reassured the public. This is a Prime Minister whose remaining time in office is numbered at most in terms of a couple of weeks. According to reports it is widely believed among Tory MPs that her press conference has only made things worse with one telling Beth Rigby of Sky News, the question is no longer should Truss go, but when should she go.
The odds on Truss surviving the next few weeks have now shortened dramatically. Even her own supporters are in open despair with some plotting to replace her with a caretaker administration headed by Penny Mordaunt and Rishi Sunak.
We have had four chancellors in four months and five prime ministers in five years – the way things are going we might be in for a sixth prime minister very soon, but in the meantime we are certainly in for more uncertainty and instability from a Conservative government that has crashed the economy, adding to the misery of hundreds of thousands of households who are already struggling to make ends meet due to the economic mismanagement of the Conservative party. So how is that ‘strong and stable UK’ that Better Together promised us working out for everyone?
To paraphrase what one of the few sensible audience members on BBC Question Time said, a woman who unaccountably got through the BBC’s anti-independence vetting : “There will never be a perfect time for a referendum, there is never a perfect time for any major life decision, but let’s get real here if this isn’t it, I really don’t know when is.”
Meanwhile, on social media a screen shot allegedly taken from Neil Oliver’s GBeebies show was circulating of British nationalism’s and the anti-maskers’ very own Propagandalf apparently railing about how “woke-a-nauts” are using “death spaniels”.
Everyone I sent the photo of the screenshot to asked if it was real. I can only say Oliver and GBeebies’ attempts to stir up hysteria about the culture wars are so far gone down a spiral of crazy, and the right wing in the UK is so detached from reality, that I find it impossible to tell.
It’s probably a fake but the scary thing is that it could all too easily be genuine. We are living in a satirical nightmare, I have no idea what “woke-a-naut death spaniels” means, unless it’s a post-punk band featured on the John Peel Show in the 1980s, but two years on from my stroke, if I am ever able to get another dog it’s definitely going to be a wee ginger woke-a-naut death spaniel. It would be the perfect dug for this unhinged age.
My Gaelic maps of Scotland are still available, a perfect gift for any Gaelic learner or just for anyone who likes maps. The maps cost £15 each plus £7 P&P within the UK. You can order by sending a PayPal payment of £22 to [email protected] (Please remember to include the postal address where you want the map sent to).
I am now writing the daily newsletter for The National, published every day from Monday to Friday in the late afternoon. So if you’d like a daily dose of dug you can subscribe to The National, Scotland’s only pro-independence newspaper, here: Subscriptions from The National
This is your reminder that the purpose of this blog is to promote Scottish independence. If the comment you want to make will not assist with that goal then don’t post it. If you want to mouth off about how much you dislike the SNP leadership there are other forums where you can do that. You’re not welcome to do it here.
You can help to support this blog with a PayPal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address [email protected]. Or alternatively click the donate button below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.