I got as far as ‘mythical “anti-growth coalition” ‘ and then gave up. This is a hopelessly poor analysis of what happened to Liz Truss and the Tory Party, and it is worth remarking that as events proceed this year and into the next, it will come to be seen as something that happened to the whole country.
The Truss government may have had its limitations where communications is concerned, but its core message was 100% correct. It was simply not something the Establishment wanted to hear, and the toxic reaction of the City to a badly presented budget combined with an asleep-at-the-wheel Bank of England provided the perfect opportunity for the Establishment to bring down Truss’s government.
What Truss/Kwarteng were proposing was an extremely modest retraction of what has been out-of-control public spending and bureaucratic bloat during Boris Johnson’s period in office. In simple numbers, state spending was to be moved back from 36.5% of GDP to just 36%, a level that last applied just before the pandemic. This, apparently, was a colossally reckless move? Utter nonsense.
Anyone that takes the political narrative on this at face value is an idiot. This was the State simply ensuring that its growing entitlement to the wallets of the rest of us was not to be questioned, that’s all.
I’ve found it incredible how readily people have swallowed the lie that Truss’ budget was insanely reckless & terrible for them, and that Sunak’s budget is what we in fact needed.
Truss put forward tax reductions for all (including the foolish move of abolishing of 45% band no one was calling for and just gave her opposition ammunition) & spending plans that included helping everyone on energy/cost of living for 2 years. It was actually a very friendly budget for the average person.
The ‘market’ reaction was bizarre and the media response typically hyperactive & sensationalist. It all seemed very co-ordinated to bring her down & put Sunak in place.
The same Tory party that had insisted we couldn’t undo the Brexit vote cos it’d be undemocratic, then briefed relentlessly against her & went about undoing the, er, membership vote to put her as leader (the Tory democratic process, whether you like the idea of how it all works, we don’t vote for a PM etc) & force her out and install the man they had expected to win the contest originally instead.
We were then all told that *actually* what is good for us, is tax rises via stealth until 2028 (band freezes), reductions in spending, less support on energy/cost of living & I’m sure numerous other things I’ve missed/forgotten that are equally bad news for the average citizen.
For what it’s worth, I’ve not voted Tory in 20 odd years of voting, initially Labour, later Lib Dem and nowadays simply not bothering as I’ve lost faith in them all. I will say though that the bashing Truss got was unwarranted, the market reaction scripted, the media an embarrassment & the Tory party as shameless as usual in ousting her so quickly.
I would say I’m shocked by how readily people have accepted all this, but then I’m all shocked out after witnessing, for 2 years, people begging to be locked in their homes, insisting everyone be masked up, regularly swabbed & happily snitching on neighbours, family & friends for not going along with it, so I guess I am just at odds with what most other people seem to want.
I still believe that what did for her was the completely unnecessary removal of the 45% band (a tiny part of the overall tax package) and the cap on bankers bonuses. Those two items alone were like throwing red meat to the baying gutter press, who gleefully whipped up the hysteria which eventually led to her downfall.
Fine margins, but with better timing and PR she might still be in office and growth still on the agenda.
You sound like the left wing of the Labour party. “The program was 100% correct, but it was brought down by [in their case] the hostile right-wing press“. If you want to govern the country, you need to be able to deal with the country you have actually got, and the stumbling blocks you are actually going to encounter. If you cannot do that you will fail. Complaining that in a better world it ought to have worked and the job was just too difficult is simply a cop-out.
As the article points out, the Conservative party as a whole made this choice. If they want to succeed in the future, the party as a whole ought to acknowledge the failure and consider how to do better. I hope they will – so I can vote for them one day.
I think your analysis is deeply flawed. Thatcher’s necessary reforms that saved this country were achieved in the face of huge opposition. The Johnson government had a huge majority but couldn’t be bothered. The country is now in an even worse state and the Tories and Labour have both got their heads in the sand. It will only get worse and the answer isn’t more Labour lite Blairism.
I do not think we disagree. Thatcher expected opposition and was ready and capable of dealing with it. Truss produced policies that led to huge opposition and a market meltdown, without having considered the consequences or how to deal with them. If you really think cutting the top rate of income tax in the middle of a recession and huge government deficit will lead to great growth, I will not stop you – though I have my doubts. But at least think through first how to get it done without causing an immediate crash.
Thank you for your reply. The style of the crash and subsequent recovery (when all our fundamental problems remain or are arguably worse given this government’s weakness) did not impress much. I experienced quite a few “crashes” during my time in investment banking starting in the 80s and this one as I did noted impress me much.
“Thatcher expected opposition and was ready and capable of dealing with it.” I agree, but let us not forget she had many capable experienced political lieutenants who could run departments, articulate policies to the media, deal with loaded/difficult questions etc. Likewise Reagan, who inherited the battle-scarred veterans of the Nixon campaign.
These tough nuts simply do not exist anymore. For most of them, standing toe to toe with the embedded opposition is too exhausting. So they don’t bother with principles anymore and go with the Blairite flow of their opponents. Who have the wind in their sails of a vastly expanded media operation, 24 hour news, round the clock, round the world. And they’re all pre-programmed. Sort of Mark’s point – I think.
Resistance to the machine is futile. Cue Malcolm Tucker’s final speech (my censorship) in the “Thick of It”:
“I take this job home, it ******** ties me to the bed, and it ******** ***** me from ***hole to breakfast… I am a ******** host for this ******** job,”
What opposition, Sunaks followers? A few final salary pension funds got caught out and started a sell off, so they could meet their obligations, which caused others to follow suit. Bonds were already down and the steep curve they were on started around July time.
Yes. Truss was a truly terrible general who marched her army blindly into a trap. Tactically she and KK were abysmal, impatient, grossly naive. But her basic CAUSE was just. She wanted to promote growth, limit the State and encourage wealth creators. She wanted to START Brexit and that all meant confronting all the hostile reactionary Blairite powers that had taken over the British State. But she led her army to slaughter. Her impatience saw her promise a bumper 150bn 2 year bailout at the very same time as the tax reforms. Why?? It was like the French cavalry charging madly into a rain of arrows and annihilation in a choke point at Agincourt. If she had launched the popular overdue energy first…then waited a month or so to start a introducing a gradual programme of pro business tax cuts matched with (never seen) proposed cuts to the public sector Blob (ignoring the stupid unnecssary banker bonus and delaying the equally ‘hot’ 45 tax cut – both of which her antennae should have said ‘leave – do not provoke the Remainiac and Leftist media on day 1’) she may have survived awhile. But she was no Napoleon or Henry V. She was sadly out of her depth and so gifted the many enemies of growth, wealth creation, SMEs, personal responsibility, Brexit and more a gleeful easy victory.
“You sound like the left wing of the Labour party. “The program was 100% correct, but it was brought down by [in their case] the hostile right-wing press“.”
You are missing the obvious point that it matters whether or not the Truss proposals were an example of ideological overreach. They returned the fiscal balance to somewhere still more statist than the Blair/Brown governments 1997-2010, so to categorise my argument as being one half of a partisan point scoring argument simply doesn’t come anywhere near plausible.
You are saying ‘Ah yes, but Truss was right!’. Maybe so, but so is the Labour left saying ‘Ah yes, but Jeremy was right!’ In either case it is the PM’s job to push his program through the expected opposition. If he cannot do that he should go for a different program that he can actually make happen, not complain that his beautiful policies would have worked, if only …
Well said. Couldn’t agree more.
A repeat of 1660, yet again!
I’m with you on that analysis & your view that the article “is a hopelessly poor analysis of what happened”
Written by a university professor, tells you as much as you need to know about the author’s background.
Well, it’s not really a university.
Not in the sense of the ‘gilded three’ Oxford, The Other Pace and Trinity College Dublin, I’ll grant you.
I agree with you. As someone who lives off a pension, the decline was happening way before the mini budget. Unfortunately she just carried the can for it, we now have a government that doesn’t even have a growth plan, while spending is due to increase in each of the next two years.
Yes, how dare bond market doesn’t believe Liz Truss?!
“Worse things happen at sea”!
I was no fan of Truss but to pretend she was not taken out by a political by that “mythical” anti growth coalition of Remainers and Blob plants is ludicrous. Rishi Sunak, a creature of multinational organisations, banks, high finance and even the World Economic Forum, lost a leadership vote but was implanted anyway, like a parasite into a host. We have got a Goldman Sachs man as PM because ‘the markets’ got scared. Pathetic.
‘Mythical’ being your key word of course RW.
A strong whiff of WEF indeed
No, Tories MPs went home and got an earful from their voters.
£ went down, the price of GOV debt went up.
Feel free not to borrow money from the markets.
Whatever. Liz Truss did not crash the public finances. 10 year Gilt yields reached 4.6%, but that was at least partly linked to mixed messages from the BoE around QT, rather than being entirely due to the mini-budget. In any event higher Gilt rates would have been worth it if they, rather than higher taxes, were the main weapon in tackling inflation. Clearly Liz Truss was unfit for high office, but now that the adults are back in charge, the party appears to be drifting towards a wipe out in 2024, with almost nothing positive to show from 14 years in office – GDP per head no higher than in 2008, a society more fractured than ever, a Woke takeover of cultural institutions, Brexit dying of neglect, the Union in peril, freedom of speech being eroded, tax at a 70 year high, an unreformed NHS on the verge of collapse, basic public services failing, children and women at risk from a strident Trans agenda, and policing, border control, the criminal justice system, and the public finances in a mess. And with votes at 16 likely to be enacted by the next government, and massively hostile long term voter demographics, it is unlikely the Conservatives will ever win an election again. That is why the membership took a gamble on Truss. But the author is at least to be commended for getting some more mileage from that hardy perennial “people in this country have had enough of experts”.
An excellent précis, thank you.
Agree with all of this, but did you expect a left-wing academic to have any grasp of basic economics?
You don’t. And you are a conservative – right?
Liz Truss did not crash the public finances …. that idiot Sunak did with his pal Johnson – putting the economy into a medically induced coma for 2 years and paying most of the population from the proceeds of the magic money tree.
(and of course many years of QE which is simply a linguistic re-band on printing money like they did on the old days)
Brexit dying of neglect,
Yes, is Brexit like communism…we just haven’t tried the real one?!
Indeed. If everything else fails if Labour gets to enforce votes for 16 years olds – and they will – it will certainly ensure the end of the Conservative Party and much else besides. That said, for some time now it has seemed to me that that is exactly what a certain powerful quarter of the Conservative Party has wanted. They certainly did their best to destroy that incredible landslide victory of 2019 and they succeeded. Now it is dead in the water.
I’m still struggling to see how a £2 billion tax cut that ultimately might have paid for itself “crashed” the economy, but spaffing £400 billion on wasted PPE, paying people not to work , test and trace etc goes unnoticed. Ho hum.
Excellent article. The hubris and ideological blindness of the Conservative party has brought enormous and historic harm on this country – and far worse is yet to come. The catastrophic disaster of Truss’ brief reign was in fact the end of the Brexit project: we have NOT taken back control, and there is no point to the project if we have not. We are left with all the harms of Brexit, which are vast, and none of its putative benefits. In time Brexit will consume its children, but that does not mean only the ideologues who led us over the cliff, but all of us who have followed them – willingly or not.
People typically label those they disagree with as ‘ideologues’; they rarely admit to being ideologues themselves. I would suggest that the aversion to taking back control, and securing the benefits of Brexit, is at root ideological.
I still can’t get my head around problems with a few billion “unfunded” by Truss against 400 billion unfunded by Sunak? But i did enjoy my discounted meals at the time.
A slight re-write of history methinks.
Liz Truss was not cheered into office by the adoring membership and press. She was nowhere near the membership’s first choice – that honour fell to Kemi Badenoch, with Mordaunt and Braverman also polling better than her. And then there’s Boris Johnson himself – where the majority of members felt that there was no pressing need to replace him despite Party-gate. (While doubtless the polls were poor, they were not especially disastrous for a mid term government at the time – though they most certainly are now).
The decision to oust Johnson was the MPs’ alone. The decision to put Truss and Sunak to the membership was the MPs alone. The decision to “impose” Jeremy Hunt as chancellor was the MPs and the defenestration of Truss was the MPs. I have seen several occasions in my lifetime where the markets have reacted badly to a UK government or bank decision (this was undoubtedly both despite what journalists try to tell you) – and I’ve seen worse on several occasions. Yet only once, here, have we seen a PM and Chancellor lose their jobs as a result. It happened because the MPs wanted it to happen.
The MPs at the centre of each stage were the same – the globalist, technocratic wing of the party. They spotted an opportunity to oust a leader who they’d merely tolerated because of his ability to win an election, and went for it. When the membership installed Truss, they doubled down and went again.
I’m not a Conservative member and nor would I always vote for them, so I’m not trying to offer my opinion of Johnson, Truss or Sunak – but to blame the members is ridiculous. All they did is choose between their 5th and 6th choices as leader – and probably went with Truss because they were extremely unenamoured by the behaviour of Sunak’s backers.
It is not difficult to see why.
This is a more accurate assessment than the actual article.
An article on the Tories by someone with the twitter handle ‘redhistorian’
It’s like reading an article about Muller fruit corner yoghurt by someone called ‘mullerfruitcornerhater’
But it could be that the ‘mullerfruitcornerhater’ hates the product for good reason, and, if I were comtemplating buying it, I would appreciate his view.
There’s an outside chance the handle reflects that he’s a ginge…
I’ll get me coat.
This desperately complacent defence of Britain’s lazy and incompetent governing class and it’s sclerotic status quo is pretty much what one would expect from the author of Yes to Europe. Institutions are ‘fragile’, eh? I think ‘moribund’ says it better, particularly institutions engaged in what passes for education.
Oh dear. It seems PM Sunak’s grand idea is to require all schoolchildren to study mathematics until they are 18. If that is the best he and his team can do to sort out this country’s problems I think Truss would have done a better job.
FWIW, I won’t be renewing my subscription to Unherd as it isn’t the breath of fresh air it was when it launched and has gone off the boil in the last few months. I can still watch the interview on YouTube and get a lot more value now from my other much longer established subscriptions.
I am feeling the same, am worried it’s showing it’s true Metro-yawn uber-liberal colours. All journos and commentators are the same really, more worried about how they’re viewed at warm white wine drinks parties with other journos than, er… speaking to their readers.
Oh dear. Are you both (WW & BJ) so fragile that if you come across the odd UnHerd article that isn’t from a more right wing perspective you implode?
The point is views and beliefs that one may hold are worth testing out in other than an echo chamber. You don’t build neuronal muscle, so to speak, just hearing what you want to hear and not having your points challenged. One’s views become flaccid and impotent.
Your comment is redundant; not “fragile” in the least, have simply gone from visiting the Unherd website on a daily basis to maybe once a week because the articles aren’t as interesting as they used to be. Nothing to do with agreeing with them or not.
I do suspect the ‘less interesting’ bit potentially also a product of the Right making such a hash of things and it being almost impossible to avoid having to confront that reality in just about any current affairs/opinion forum at this time.
Not remotely fragile, just increasingly bored by article after article expressing a similar vibe. The one on ‘Libs of Tiktok’ being a recent example. Although your comment on the ‘Right’ is interesting, as the Tories clearly aren’t. They are Blairites.
Okay, look at it from this perspective – the liberal left spawned what we are all calling, for want of a better word, Woke. They breastfed postmodernism when many warned of how poisonous it was. Then, when their monster turned on them, hordes of middle-age, middle-class leftists decamped and found gigs in centre-right media (the Speccie and Telegraph, for example, are like refugee camps for old-school feminists). Quillette? Hilarious. It reads like a sort of AA meeting for people surprised by the Woke monster it created but not really able to acknowledge their role in its creation.
I’m perfectly happy to read alternative points of view. As you say, it’s good for the brain. What I’m not happy with is the never-ending long march of liberals camping out on hitherto refreshingly not-so-metro-liberal places. They’re like those signs on Texas freeways warning Californians that, although they are welcome, not to turn it into the place they just left.
I must admit I hadn’t really run into Woke much until joining UnHerd. I think it’s seriously overplayed by the Right and in part because they need to find another outlet for their outrage having made such a hash of economies and capitalism.
One has this nagging suspicion too that people banging on about Woke can’t define it or define it in such a way that it’ll catch anything they might disagree with. It comes across at times as bit classic ‘emperor got no clothes’ stuff.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t some elements where the Trans agenda or a revisionist view of history, as examples, hasn’t become daft and potential dangerous too, but its prevalence is massively overstated. We don’t all live on university campuses even if occasionally being on-line so much can make us feel like that.
I tend to find younger people are less keen on demonising migrants or obsessing over the existence of trans people. Younger people are more likely to defend the rights of the minorities bullied and harassed by right wing politicians. Many conservatives seem to hate them for it. In building and benefiting from an economic model that has left younger people facing much more insecure futures than we had and then repelling them with a “culture war” against progressive values, British and US ‘anti-woke-ists’ and Right wingers seem intent on their own demise.
If you think Woke is overplayed then that’s fine. I think you are wrong and ignoring the evidence, but c’est la vie. I also think the generation who invented the awful term ‘gaslighting’ are shamelessly doing exactly the same thing to people who disagree with their agenda. Of course, one day they will come for you. I fear it’s a monster that won’t be sated until it burns itself out.
I think you are lacking confidence BJ in the ability of institutions to self correct and expel nonsense, even if initially prone to absorbing it a little too much.
Private sector companies will in due course junk nonsense stuff unless it contributes positively to bottom line.
Universities can be a greater challenge, because for example people will want to go to an Ivy league or Oxbridge whatever the nonsense playing out there. But it’s about Organisations grasping the mettle and telling students you can have your separate groups where certain things can’t be said and you feel it’s a ‘safe-space’, but in the classroom that doesn’t apply and don’t come here if you can’t handle that. Univ of Austin probably a good example of market response in this direction. Univ of Chicago I understand similar. So I’m more positive these things do rebalance and will in the coming few years.
Woke is a very silly term for something very real and very dangerous. Have a look at the Unherd article today on why the mass rape of thousands of underage white working class girls went on across tens of towns and cities across the UK for decades without any intervention from a craven complicit media/BBC, police force and councils and a Home Office who ALL knew it was happening…but turned their backs on these girls out of fear of appearing discriminatory. The cult-like equality mania and State credo of identitarianism is a very real accelerating social poison, not some abstract academic game.
Yes WM, read the Jay report few years ago when published and the more recent Operation Linden report focused on the Police response. Shocking failures. And hopefully the lessons are being learned as set out in both.
Subscribers pay to comment. If we express dismay or disappointment with UnHerd, that is our right. It isn’t imploding, flaccid, or impotent. It’s opinion.
Not quite the point being made AB. The point was about being open to exposure to views one doesn’t agree with and having to ‘test’ one’s thoughts against others in order to further refine, strengthen, modify, an argument or case. Just conveying an ‘opinion’ without welcoming scrutiny is up there with ‘my truth’ nonsense. Come on I shouldn’t have to be pointing this out to anyone anti-woke.
I find it useful to formulate my thoughts on subjects through the medium of the comments section and don’t mind that I find many of the articles I comment on flaccid and lightweight although many are excellent. The value to me of Unherd is the combination of the articles and that commentators will devote often well argued paragraphs to the subject. Often the facts and insights elicited by the commenters are more valuable than the article itself.
Although I am probably of a more conservative bent than you I always enjoyed reading the Guardian online and only stopped doing so when many of the articles either over-moderated comments or excluded comment altogether. I found it was the public’s comments that I missed.
In contrast the comments in the Telegraph are too brief and too many. You don’t get the interchange with individuals that you come to recognise that you do in Unherd even though they have a similar mix of progressive and conservative writers and many of the progressive are refugees from the Guardian.
The authors of articles I particularly appreciate are those willing to comment on negative comments instead of having then vaporised.
I think that I read something of yours elsewhere today that I disagreed with, or maybe agreed with who knows, but I do agree with this. I like a variety of articles and comments. The advantage of the Guardian is that after you remove the surprisingly small number of ‘Tory scum’ bits there is a lot of humour and good-nature; I did get the Daily Telegraph for 6 months and enjoyed (disagreeing with) the articles but found the commentariat painfully full of hate (actually the articles aren’t much fun either). I even pay for Unherd (unheard of!) because there is usually something every day worth reading because I learn something; I wouldn’t mind more ‘conservative’-leaning pieces to broaden my mind, but sadly I think that too many of the commentariat are of the Telegraph ilk – still that does give some amusement value.
The paradox is that the author of the article is himself profoundly conservative. How else do you describe someone who so desperately wants to return to the heady days of Cool Britannia and the Millennium Dome?
Liz Truss. The only PM to have practical, workable solutions…ousted almost immediately because she failed to include the billionaires.
The Truss affair shows there is absolutely no hope for the people or the politics of this festering corrupt cesspit of a country.
Truss didn’t crash the public finances. A month on from the mini-Budget the public finances were back exactly where they were before and the blob had engineered WEF clone Sunak into No 10 as planned.
I’ve just started reading this article and can I just say the ‘animated’ advert at the side is extremely off-putting, constantly distracting my eyes. I don’t mind if you want to put up adverts – I’d prefer if you didn’t, as I’m a paying customer – but if you must then please make them so that they don’t interfere with the reading experience.
Really good article. It is important that the dreadful wooden, robotic performances from Truss do not mask the fact that she was an inevitable convulsion in a failed project with much broader right-wing responsibility.
However the debate about ‘low growth’ was not without some validity, albeit the phrase was and is tossed around with much banality by Truss and her adherents. There was nothing below the surface of tax cuts except some stuff on planning laws. Nothing on major medium and long term investment in science and education. Had the proposed increase in budget deficit been for clearly set out investment in these areas it’s possible the Markets would have responded a little differently. But it was the continual blind belief that tax cuts alone would do the job. There was nothing on Wealth taxes, as so many forms of untaxed wealth act as a block against growth – why invest in innovative industries when you can find easier ways to perpetuate one’s advantage.
There was then nothing on why growth was important – to help fund what? And what trade offs might be necessary as a result. You need a strategy and a purpose. Both were lacking. It was just so banal as to be painful.
Of course here the ‘growth’ dynamic also ran into the declinism inevitable from Brexit choices. At least Truss recognised the approach to immigration was not going to work for her project, leading to Braverman’s ‘temporary’ departure. Yet another classic example of the inherent contradictions behind Tory and Right wing thinking the last 12yrs.
“.. there is a good chance your Christmas stocking included the recent biography of Liz Truss.”
If you’re, say, a reader in Modern History who still leads groups called ‘Yes to Europe’ and desperately need to get a life, then yes, there is a very good chance it did.
The opening paragraphs of this article are very witty, that’s a big plus. It’s worth pointing out that 45 percent of the declining party membership did NOT vote for Liz Truss. It wasn’t a huge majority so a wiser politician might not have acted so radically.