The Gist: A Lack Of Truss
The Tory party is crumpling in on itself and its new leader like an imploding eclair. This is the Gist.
We are a week since the UK Government announced a mini-budget, wrenched the wheel hard to the right and crashed the country into a ditch.
We can now see that the queen did her state one final service by dying just as Liz Truss took office, thereby preventing her final PM from making any major policy changes for a full two weeks.
In months to come, Britain will look back fondly on those times when their main concern was whether Phil and Holly had skipped the queue to gaze upon the departed monarch's flag-draped coffin.
The reason those days will evoke nostalgia is what Prime Minister Liz Truss and her Cabinet of Curiosities did next.
As we know by now, it appears both the new PM and her Chancellor suffer from the same debilitating ailment- convictions. Very very stupid convictions. They are convinced that if only rich people didn’t have to pay tax that everyone would end up as a rich person.
This idea has no evidence- or indeed any widely accepted theory- to support it. Nonetheless both the holders of the UK’s great offices of state appear to have imprinted upon it at an impressionable age, like newly hatched ducklings following around an Alsatian, if Alsatians also weren’t real and didn’t exist.
The reaction to this proudly declaimed shared delusion from the uptight sorts in charge of Money, and the keeping thereof, was not as Ms Truss expected. They took their Money and started putting it safely somewhere else. Sterling was sold off, then the Government’s own gilt bonds (their loans) had to offer higher and higher interest rates to persuade anyone to buy them. Then, eventually, (ie, Wednesday) the entire UK pension system nearly went bust. The problem was temporarily avoided by the Bank of England printing £65 Billion so they could use it to buy those bonds and keep them floating.
Never let it be said that Britain doesn’t have a magic money tree. It just takes the form of a printing press.
So, catastrophic systemic financial collapse has been dodged, at least until the weekend.
Cue the Prime Minister touring a series of local radio interviews. This was, from a horserace view of politics, a bad idea. The Prime Minister has demonstrated by the application of any microphone or lens, that she is not a first rank communicator. Indeed, her rank would be so low she may have warranted a dishonourable discharge from ever having to make conversation at all.
This was exemplified by the quick-fire round of local radio interviews this morning, where the Prime Minister materialised for five minutes on each station, humiliated herself and then teleported directly to the next, to deliver the same points again. It was like Groundhog Day, if, instead of starting the day to I’ve Got You Babe, Bill Murray had been woken in his pyjamas in the town square and everyone took turns at hitting him in the face with a plank.
For Irish listeners it was telling to see the return of an old friend in the Tory speaking points- “I don’t accept that.” After Fianna Fáil had flattened our economy, they spent the next 18 months shaking their head to each undeniable recitation of miserable facts and responding “I don’t accept that.”
Meanwhile, UK Labour’s poll lead triggered a breakdown in standard electoral prediction models, which suggested a return of 2 (yes, just two) Tory party seats after the next UK election.
By all accounts, Liz Truss does not accept the events of last week. It remains to be seen how long she can hold that position before her hysterical party comes to the conclusion they can’t accept her.