Liz Truss tipped to be next British PMtext_fields
I attended a Conservative Party event in London where Liz Truss was guest of honour. Miss Truss is Foreign Secretary. The diminutive and petite woman was perfectly dressed and coiffed as always. But thick makeup could not hide the fact that she looks considerably older than her 46 years. Notwithstanding her apparent imperturbability, the stresses of high office have etched themselves on her face.
Liz Truss was greeted with applause started by your humble servant. She then circulated among 70 Conservative activists at a supporter's house. She glad-handed the party faithful and posed for photos.
The foreign secretary spoke of the need to be robust in defence of Ukrainian democracy against the insensate bloodlust of Russian illegal aggression, totalitarianism and hyper militarism. She said that the Northern Ireland Protocol could be legally ended unilaterally, but she would prefer to negotiate a solution with the European Union. Miss Truss re-adumbrated her view that tax can be cut forthwith and this financed through borrowing. Most of this was deeply alluring to the Tories present.
The reception for Liz Truss was generally positive. She fielded questions. Few of them were hostile.
At the end of the event, Miss Truss posed for photos with those who wished to hold up 'Liz for leader' signs. The Richmond and Kingston Conservative Association did not take sides in the leadership election. There are 650 Conservative Associations in the UK: one for each parliamentary constituency. The Richmond and Kingston Association has the third most members of any constituency in the UK. This was the very first association that Liz did an event at.
Elizabeth Truss came across as poised, self-possessed and well-rehearsed. She is a satisfactory public speaker. She is a little uninspiring. There is a vacuity to her. The woman is perhaps too bloodless.
The association shall invite Rishi Sunak to visit and set out his pitch for leadership. Bearing in mind that the association has 1,000 members out of a party of 160,000 members, Sunak is almost certainly going to deign to address the association.
The Tory Party needs to appeal to more ethnic minority voters. The party has made serious inroads in the Indian community. Labour always brands the Conservatives as 'racist'. Having Sunak as PM would be the ultimate disproof of this allegation.
If Sunak does not get the top job this time, he might get it soon. If Truss were to lead a Conservative Government into an election and lose, then she would be booted out as leader.
Sunak has savaged his party's record in government. But because of collective ministerial responsibility, he must bear some of the blame too.
Those present at the meeting with Liz Truss revealed much about the party's following. About 10% were non-white, half the people had grey hair and men were in a slight majority. As far as could be deduced, the audience was overwhelmingly middle class. This is decidedly dissimilar to the demographics of London as a whole. The average age of Conservative Party members is 57. That is only a little older than in the Labour Party or the Liberal Democrats.
One of those present is a British Pakistani who was once in the Punjab State Legislature as a Pakistan Muslim League delegate.
The policies of the Truss campaign are probably over-optimistic. Is sending asylum seekers to Rwanda lawful and practicable? Is ending the Northern Ireland Protocol sagacious and legal? Is a tax cut now sensible? Would it aggravate already rampant inflation? Is increasing public sector debt financially prudent? Is the phasing out of all EU-derived legislation within months doable? The non-feasance of deregulation post Brexit has rancorously disappointed many Conservative voters.
Many Truss policies are red meat thrown to the Conservative members. Mr Sunak has panned them as populist, unwise and unsound.
Sunak is 24% points behind Liz Truss in a poll of Tory Party members. There are five weeks to go in this leadership contest. A concatenation of blunders by Miss Truss could see her lose it. A magnificent campaign by Sunak could see him snatch the crown from Liz. But at the moment there is no indication that the polls are wrong.
Another poll showed if the Conservatives had Truss as PM and Labour still had Sir Keir Starmer, then an election would result in the Tories winning by 8%.
If Truss becomes PM, she will be the fourth PM in three years! Two out of the last three PMs will have been women. A female PM will start to be routine.
The author is a political analyst in the UK. You can watch him on YouTube: George from Ireland