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Another One Bites the Truss

Lettuce Begin…

We’ve finally ousted the worst, most incompetent, cruel, unfit, and arrogant modern Prime Minister we’ve ever had, since the one before.

The country is down two Elizabeths in as many months.

Ok, what the hell just happened?

First, let’s run through the basics. Liz Truss was elected through the Conservative party leadership contest which took 55 days from July to September 2022. This leadership contest ended up being 10 days longer than her premiership. Nice.

Her undoing was fundamentally brought about by her (& her chancellor’s) innocuously named ‘Mini Budget’ which promised huge unfunded tax cuts, alongside a government energy intervention to relieve some of the increasing cost of energy bills.

This government intervention to tackle energy bills was absolutely necessary, with energy bills rising disproportionately throughout the year. However, Truss’ plan to pay for the roughly £100bn-£200bn investment consisted of absolutely no tax increases to pay for some of this intervention. In fact Truss planned to cut taxes across the scale, decreasing the governments revenue thus eventually causing public sector (that’s the NHS, schools etc) spending cuts. This plan was the equivalent of trying to mow your lawn by staring at it. 

The markets reacted badly, resulting in numerous U-turns (reneging on previous policy announcement) on different aspects of the Truss agenda. In fact, Truss has been u-turning so much she’s just spinning at this point. She even had to sack her former Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, her supposed ideological bestie, and replaced him with Jeremy Hunt.  Just imagine replacing your best friend with Jeremy Hunt, how desperate would you have to be? 

Real quick on Jezza. Apart from having the most accurate name to mispronounce is an old Conservative hand. Hunt was health secretary throughout the Cameron years, where he decided to pick a fight with junior doctors over their (absolutely dismal) pay. Hunt’s legacy in the NHS was overseeing the freeze to doctors and NHS workers’ pay and patient experience and staff morale had both taken a dramatic turn for the worse as he left the role in 2016. A lovely chap, we should all take seriously.

This turmoil culminated in Truss’ resignation on the 20th of October, with a new Prime Minister promised by the end of next week (28th October). 

For the Conservative party, Truss is stain on their record of ‘economic competence’ (A record which is complete fantasy). Indeed, they’ve removed the “In Liz we Truss” novelty mugs from their merchandise store. Terrible news for anyone who really wanted to waste £15 (The true economic calamity).

What’s Truss legacy then? Well, she lost to a lettuce, crashed the pound, is the shortest serving PM in history, David Blaine was in a box longer, Jedward were on the X factor longer. 

I fear however, her legacy is that of sanitisation. Truss has managed to make Johnson look acceptable, even competent at the head of government. We mustn’t forget just how fundamentally unfit for office Johnson was, and we must never let him or Truss back into power.

What happened after that?

The group in charge of organising these events is the 1922 Committee, aptly named after it was actually founded in 1923. They are the backbenchers that meet weekly to organise and debate away from the frontbenchers of the conservative party.

The chairman of the 1922 Committee Sir Graham Brady, also the grim reaper of Tory PMs, stood in his navy Kingsman-tailor suit outside parliament accompanied by grey clouds and the winds of change- English teachers remarked on the impressive pathetic fallacy displayed across the UK. 

After the arduous political theatre that took over the whole summer, Big G announced that any MP would need to garner 100 declarations of support to be allowed to run for prime minister. This has stopped MPs without any real possibility of getting the job like Tom Tugendhat from throwing their hats into the ring. 

By Halloween we could have had the biggest fright of all: the return of Boris Johnson. Like him or loathe him, even if you ignore PartyGate, the misleading of parliament currently being investigated or the fact he has taken three holidays since leaving the role– Boris resigned because of the Chris Pincher scandal. He resigned because he appointed a man with credible allegations of sexual harassment into a position responsible for MP welfare. Even worse, he had his official spokesperson lie about whether the PM knew about previous incidents. When it came out that he had been aware, it was also alleged that he had said of the disgraced MP “Pincher by name, pincher by nature.” Is this really the man that represents Britain? 

Fear not dear reader for Boris- who totally got all the nominations he needed (verified only internally, of course)- bowed out with the pot-shottiest statement from a Tory candidate since Suella Braverman’s resignation. Rishi Sunak and Penny Mordaunt. Rishi, who shares an uncanny resemblance to the purple guy from Inside Out and the rat from Flushed Away, is the favourite ahead of Boris and Penny.  

This will probably change in the next few hours, but anyway…

He secured 100 MP nominations first and lost the members vote to Liz Truss by a smaller margin than previous runners. Rishi’s greatest hits include comparing himself to Will Smith at the Oscars after it was found his wife was avoiding paying tax on her multi-million pounds and had a green card to the US whilst he was Chancellor. 

What does a green card get him? In Sunak’s instance, we’re not sure. There is a chance that the estimated £2 million his wife didn’t pay in UK taxes (legally) was accompanied with him as he would have been required to file US tax returns. But don’t worry, as chancellor he ran a furlough scheme during the pandemic and ran a scheme that probably caused a sixth of Covid clusters in the summer

Penny is the (relatively) squeaky-clean candidate; leader of the House of Commons for a few weeks (thanks Liz!) she became the underdog candidate after coming second in the leadership contest until the last round- the one that actually mattered. She gets her shine from being a Brexiteer without the baggage of serving a big role in Johnson’s cabinet and competing on ITV ‘Splash!’ (a diving Strictly Come Dancing. Dubbed “Labour’s worst nightmare”, don’t worry too much about what I’m about to say because she’ll probably lose. Her greatest hits include saying ‘Cock’ in parliament because of a dare (how naughty!) and having her time as Brexit negotiator dubbed “a problem” by Brexit minister Lord Frost. Her stickiest issue appears to be the increasingly toxic transgender debate which she has flip-flopped on from allegedly being supportive of self-identification to reducing the issue to men being different to women in the army…ok. It’s worth mentioning the conservatives don’t have a good history with LGBTQ+ issues. You can read more about that in this BathTime article

We will have another Tory prime minister without a democratic mandate in the next week. Honestly, this is exhausting. I’m exhausted. So are the Tory members who have the chance to vote for the next PM online without the need for ID. I mean, come on. You can’t ballot members in a union online and you now need ID to vote in an actual democratic election, but if you’re a member it’s as easy as submitting an assignment on Moodle. 

Who knows what next week holds- perhaps we will be hopping the proverbial fence to the other side again. Will the grass really be greener on the other side or are the fields of Tory leadership candidates perpetually blighted by drought-stricken cracks and sewage-filled rivers. I’ll let you decide the answer to that. 

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