Andrew Macdougall: Okay, that's it. Just put the wilting lettuce in charge
If only Truss could have seen it coming. If only we had all seen it coming. Only we did. In fact, everyone not named Truss saw it coming.
By: Andrew Macdougall
How bad are things in Britain?
Well, a tabloid newspaper is right now streaming footage of a head of unrefrigerated iceberg lettuce on its YouTube channel to see if it will last longer than Liz Truss can as prime minister. And the smart money is on the lettuce.
Given Truss is effectively captain of the Titanic these days, the iceberg gambit is entirely apropos. In just 40-odd days, Truss has buried the Queen, buried the pound, and is now in the process of burying the Conservative Party. Few have accomplished so much in so little time.
Unfortunately for the country (and conservatism), Truss’ “accomplishments” are turning Britain into the butt of the joke in nearly every country on earth. The Greeks are now paying less for their government-issued debt. The Italians, now led in a coalition by an untested right-wing flamethrower, are bemoaning our lack of political stability. And the worst part is, they have a point. The prime minister no longer runs the country. Truss is PM in name only; in office but not in power. The real rulers of the United Kingdom are the global bond market and one Jeremy Hunt, the new chancellor of the Exchequer installed by Truss to restore confidence in the markets.
Unfortunately for Truss, Hunt is now tearing up the last vestiges of Truss’ days-old plan for growth to restore that confidence, i.e. the unfunded £45 billion tax giveaway delivered into an already inflationary economy beset by labour shortages. Indeed, there is virtually nothing left of the “Trussonomics” that so enthralled the Conservative Party membership during this summer’s leadership election, and pretty soon there will be no Truss either. All of the parlour talk in Westminster is now about who will replace her, and how soon.
Will it be Hunt? Will it be Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor defeated by Truss this summer, the man who told Conservative members the hard truth that Truss’ plan would lead to exactly this fate? Or will it be Boris Johnson, whose ouster in July set about the current disaster class?
Or how about none of the above? Many are arguing that Britain needs an election, not another Tory coronation. And they’re right, the people should get to decide. Because the last time the Tories asked for (and received) a mandate, COVID-19 wasn’t a thing, the shape of the eventual Brexit was the political issue of the day, and Boris Johnson was a viable political force. The country will not tolerate another Tory leader’s head on what is clearly a rotting political corpse.
This presumes the Tories could even agree to a new leader. The truth is they can’t; they’re riven with factions. Nobody knows what conservatism is in today’s Conservative Party. Is it the libertarian dream peddled by Truss? Is it the more redistributionist cakeism of Johnson? Or is it the socially-liberal but fiscally-conservative “One Nation” Toryism once peddled by David Cameron, and now represented by Hunt? Damned if the Conservatives know.
What we do know, is that the markets didn’t like any of what they were hearing from the Trussian version of the Conservatives. They do, however, appear to be responding to the Huntian revisions, even if they have yet to see the full plan, which will involve further spending cuts and tax hikes, to be specified at a later date. And while it’s great the markets are happier, it’s not so great for the millions of Britons who will now be losing more of their income heading into the teeth of a cost-of-living crisis. Thanks for nothing, Liz.
If only Truss could have seen it coming. If only we had all seen it coming. Only we did. In fact, everyone not named Truss saw it coming, most of all Sunak, whose team told the world he saw it coming in the last weeks of their leadership tussle. “The reality is that Truss cannot deliver (an energy) support package as well as come good on £50bn worth of unfunded, permanent tax cuts in one go," Mr. Sunak's spokesperson said at the time. "To do so would mean increasing borrowing to historic and dangerous levels, putting the public finances in serious jeopardy and plunging the economy into an inflation spiral.” Nostra, meet fucking damus.
Sadly for Britain, the Trussterfuck is but the latest in a series of incidents in which the country has (predictably) crashed hard into the face of reality. First, the practitioners of Brexit promised a brighter economic future despite hacking off nearly five per cent of the country’s GDP by uncoupling from the European Union’s single market. Then Boris Johnson “solved” the intractable problem of exiting the European Union by effectively leaving Northern Ireland in it. Johnson then kept Britain open too late as COVID-19 took hold. And now Truss has run around with a libertarian match in a country full of inflationary gas. And guess what? It blows.
At this point, we should just put the head of lettuce in charge. It couldn’t be much worse. Anything would be better than the current regime, who is running the country, and its future, into the ground.
Andrew MacDougall is a director at Trafalgar Strategy and former head of communications to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
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