So, Farewell Then, Liz Truss.
In the days following her resignation, it felt almost beyond comprehension that a prime minister could arrive and then leave so soon. 44 days she lasted; her premiership was less than two advent calendars long. Some would say even that was too long. In the future, “Who was Prime Minister when Queen Elizabeth II died?” is going to be a brilliant question at pub quizzes.
As a prime minister, Truss was faulty; a toaster that burned anything you put into it. Now the supposedly sound minds of SW1 gathered round, prodding and poking with forks and screwdrivers, while the toaster sat uselessly on the counter. Britannia Unchained became Britannia Unplugged.
The great misfortune for Conservative Head Office is that the party’s membership chose someone who really, truly believed in the great myth of trickle-down economics and limitless growth, rather than just spinning it for electoral gains. In reality, they all know the great mythical beast of unfettered, laissez-faire, free-market brilliance is totally unattainable and impracticable, and would only lead to greater economic Mordor. It’s why the financial district chose to step in: if there’s no value, then there’s nothing for them to skim off the top.
Jeremy Hunt was the one tasked with rolling up his sleeves and shaking the scorched remnant of the national economy out onto a plate, before having to work out what the hell to do with it next. After all, if the nation needs money, then something’s got to give, right?
This is an incredibly facile way of saying that the UK is about to be put through an extremely damaging course of austerity, that thousands upon thousands of the poorest people in our society will have to bear the brunt of, and that the upcoming winter will be one of immense pain and untold misery for multitudes, for whom this has transcended being a choice between ‘heating and eating’; affording just one of those things is hard enough.
Morrison’s have partnered with Heinz to offer free baked potatoes in their cafes. We are the world’s ninth-largest economy. The injustice should scream at you.
The situation could not be more grave. Yet, even as Russia’s offensive in Ukraine imperils our energy supply and western economies enter a period of downturn, it remains demonstrably clear that this was a political choice. This is the biggest outrage of all.
It must be written within the first five pages of the Tory playbook: try to corral the people into a bit of wartime spirit. We all have to make sacrifices, and all that. There are hard times ahead, there are difficult choices to make. In Rishi Sunak, we now have a Prime Minister for whom a tough choice is ‘How should I grip this petrol pump for the photo op?’ and ‘Should I ask an aide to pull this pint for me?’. Sunak is the richest MP in history, a US green card holder, and a man whom I would wager to be totally incapable of even imagining what making a truly tough choice might feel like.
Of course, they have all been like him, though. The UK has been, and continues to be, run by a politically homogenous, intellectually moribund cabal of grossly privileged, unempathetic, talentless goons. The continuity from David Cameron to Rishi Sunak could not be clearer; they are one and the same. Because the Tories will always be the same.
We did not need austerity during the 2010s. We did not need neoliberalism post-2008, we did not need David Cameron to break apart our public services, we did not need George Osborne, we did not need a Brexit vote, we certainly did not need a hard Brexit, we did not need to pull the belt in further and further. There has never been a sound economic basis behind the past decade of sociopathic, planned economic inequality. This is not revisionism, because the truth has been plain to see for the whole time: this was manufactured.
That the Conservatives continue to parade themselves as the party of ‘sound money’ should see them laughed out of every publication; yet the media have been their most vociferous backers at every opportunity. The government may not feed the public, but they’ll feed the attack dogs. And everything else they’ll keep for themselves.
The last twelve years of Tory rule – propped up at times by the Liberal Democrats and the DUP, don’t forget – have demonstrated the doctrine of inequality in full, brazen action. Boris Johnson once declared that “inequality is essential”; well, it’s certainly essential to his party’s rhetoric that the swelling, suffering underclass must fuel the upper classes with both their lives and livelihoods if our economy is to grow to the levels they continue to slyly prophesise.
All of this was a political choice. Yet the question of who rules us wasn’t one. That, of course, would be too much of a distraction.
Goodbye, Liz. You were rubbish. But the truth is that the worst Prime Minister we’ve ever had… it’s all of them. Cameron, May, Johnson, Truss. All put together, the one before the other; an inhuman centipede. For Sunak not to join them, he’d have to denounce his entire agenda, cabinet and party. Some hope.
The Conservative party has burned through four prime ministers since 2016. Perhaps they could do us all a favour and burn down their own political party, right down to the foundations. It would be, ironically, one of the few gestures that might actually fix things. We live in hope – well, those of us who live in enough comfort to countenance it, anyway. That, in itself, is a privilege these days.
“Liz Truss Trade Envoy” by UK Prime Minister is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.