Liz Truss's audacious demarche on Day 1 as Prime Ministertext_fields
On September 6 Truss became the British Prime Minister. She addressed the nation from outside 10 Downing Street, her official residence. She offered a grim prognosis and acknowledged that the world's economic situation was difficult.
Miss Truss is mooting keeping household energy bills as GBP 2,500 per annum maximum. This will be more than enough for all but the largest household. Any cost above GBP 2,500 per month will be absorbed by the government. But how will this be paid for? Liz Truss has suggested borrowing so the government can pay the excess. She is talking about borrowing an additional GBP 100 billion.
Before COVID the UK's national debt was at 80% of GDP. That is not bad compared to other major advanced Western economies. After the COVID furlough scheme, the United Kingdom's debt was up to 100% of GDP. Miss Truss' plan to put the United Kingdom deeper into debt has worried some.
Truss said during the leadership campaign that she would unveil her energy plan within a week of becoming PM. Why not tell us when the Tory Party still had a chance to vote against her? Is it because her plan was unworkable or unpopular?
The financial sector hardly reacted to Miss Truss' appointment as PM. As her appointment was foreseen weeks ago the City of London had already priced this into its calculations.
Liz Truss has appointed only Johnson loyalists to her cabinet. Miss Truss believed that Johnson should not have been forced out. In her acceptance speech, she did homage to Boris Johnson. For Johnsonites, she is the continuity candidate.
The Truss Cabinet is very diverse. Of the top five positions, not one is held by a white male. Truss is female as is her Deputy PM Therese Coffey. Never before have both the PM and Deputy PM been women. Both these offices have usually been held by males. Few thought that was contentious so why should anyone object to both offices being held by females simultaneously? Coffey is also Health Secretary. The Deputy PM is waiting just in case the PM is incapacitated or abroad, so has to be given something to do in the meantime.
James Cleverly has been made Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary. Mr Cleverly is of black and white ancestry. As an ex-army officer, he is always immaculately turned out.
Kwasi Kwarteng is the Chancellor of the Exchequer (finance minister). He is the first person of African stock to hold that office. Kwarteng is an academic supernova. He was a King's Scholar at Eton (like Boris Johnson). He read Ancient Greek, Latin and history at Trinity College, Cambridge (the grandest college in the university). He twice won first place in his year in history at Cambridge. After a year at Harvard as a Kennedy scholar, he returned to the banks of the Cam to take a PhD in history. The erudite Dr Kwarteng was then a banker, historian and journalist.
Suella Braverman is the Home Secretary. Mrs Braverman is a bright barrister and a British Indian. Though raised as a Christian, she is now a Buddhist and indeed the only Buddhist in Parliament.
Three out of five of the top people are women and 3/5 are non-white. White males have usually held five out of these five top jobs.
Truss has appointed people in their 40s and early 50s. They are relatively young for a Tory Cabinet. Simon Clark at 36 is the youngest and also the tallest: he stands at 199cm! He is the second tallest man in Parliament: ever!
Rishi Sunak has no place in the cabinet. Were he offered it, then he would probably have declined a seat at householdstable. Truss has appointed to the cabinet other leadership contenders from her wing of the party. They are Kemi Badenoch, Penny Mordaunt and Suella Braverman.
The Conservative and Unionist Party was once panned by its own PM Theresa May as 'pale, male and stale' as in overly dominated by elderly white men. The party was unreflective of the increasingly ethnically and religiously mixed demography of the United Kingdom.
Sunak's backers are out of the cabinet. Johnson called upon the Tory Party to reunite after a bruising two-month leadership contest. But as Truss has purged the cabinet of Sunak supporters, the party is not going to reunite. They are heavyweights like Dominic Raab, Tom Tugendhat and Grant Shapps.
Rishi is there on the backbenches. The conventional wisdom is that it is rash to leave your rival there. He might soon start sniping at Truss. For his backers, he is the king over the water. The moderate faction in the party is not happy. The party might be about to tear itself apart just as it did in the 1990s.
Note that most MPs voted for Rishi. Truss won just 30% of Tory MPs in the final ballot. Among party members, she won 47% of the vote. Bear in mind that some abstained. This is ominous. 47% is the lowest share of the vote for any candidate who has won the party leadership under this system. She is not even that popular among her party. She is widely loathed by the general public. And that is her honeymoon!
Liz Truss dismissed Shailesh Vara as Northern Ireland Secretary – an office he held for only two months. Poor him! Vara had been active in Conservative circles for 40 years. He only just made the cabinet. Mr Vara is a Ugandan-born British Indian solicitor.
In Johnson's valedictory allocution he said, 'Like Cincinnatus, I am returning to my plough.' As a classical scholar, B Johnson simply had to work in a classical allusion. Cincinnatus was a 5th century BC Roman statesman who was called upon to be Consul of Rome in a time of turbulence. He agreed to serve for one year. He then stood down despite entreaties for him to remain at the helm. Cincinnatus went back to run his farm because he was personally unambitious and actuated solely by a desire to serve the commonweal. But some years later he returned to power as dictator. Johnson was hinting that he wishes to return to government in some form. Someone who has been kicked out as party leader has not returned to be PM since the 19th century. A former PM Alec Douglas-Home served as Foreign Secretary in the 1970s.
Liz Truss tried to channel Maggie Thatcher. His photo opportunities to appear like her heroine have been inept. But Thatcher was canny enough to have a few Wets (moderates) in her cabinet to begin with. Truss has not been so astute. She has become PM without being ushered into office by a general election.
The Labour Party is licking its lips. There were other Conservative contenders who had the opposition Labour Party running scared. But Truss seems like the ideal opponent. She comes across as a heartless, swivel-eyed, zombified ideologue. There might soon be a Tory civil war.
The first phone call between the incoming PM and President Biden was reportedly gauche. Biden is a stalwart backer of Irish nationalism. He emphasised to Truss that she must not touch the Northern Ireland Protocol. Miss Truss had been keen to rip it up against the wishes of most of the people of Northern Ireland and indeed the EU. If she were foolish enough to do so the EU could hit back hard on trade at a time when the UK economy is suffering.
There is something very rigid about Truss from her overly done hair to her wooden demeanour. There is a hollowness to her. She lacks emotional intelligence. She lacks emotional intelligence. Her oratorical delivery has no pathos or exuberance.