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Who is Liz Truss kidding? She can't win hearts — or minds

'The book was not written to win over opponents like me.' (Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

'The book was not written to win over opponents like me.' (Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)


April 18, 2024   6 mins

She can’t win hearts — or mindsWhat roles do reason and emotion play in politics? Is success a matter of winning over hearts, or about changing minds? To solve this conundrum comes a memoir by someone who apparently can do neither very well: Ten Years To Save The West by Liz Truss.

The ex-Prime Minister has tried to put renewed shine on her political career, culminating in a reappraisal of decisions that almost crashed the economy and foreshortened her premiership. But a bit like The Wizard of Oz, the book also invites readers to consider some intriguing counterfactuals, at least inadvertently: would the eventual political outcome have been any different, had our protagonist only had more brain or more heart?

As far as the former goes, Truss seems unable to defend the Reaganite values she espouses by giving intellectually persuasive reasons for them. Her favourite word is “instinctively” — as in “I see myself as an instinctively anti-establishment figure” and “I am someone who instinctively wants to shake things up”. There’s little attempt to put rational flesh on the basic neoliberal bones. At one point it looks like she might try — “politics has to be about… the conservative values of patriotism, freedom, and family” — but then immediately retreats into gut feeling again: “We know instinctively why they are better than those of our opponents.”

Throughout her career, colleagues are always gently taking her aside to suggest she should approach issues in a less pugnacious, more collegiate spirit, but she flatly refuses (“they are never going to agree, so it is pointless to try to persuade them”). In place of thrashing out complex ideas, she prefers “ideology”; without which politics “is like trying to navigate a hazardous mountain range in the dark without a compass”. Translation: she has found a few simplistic mantras that appeal to her, and by God, she is going to stick to them. Again, there is no attempt to argue with sceptics: “you either believe in big government running everything or you don’t; you either believe in low taxes stimulating economic growth or you don’t”.

And just as she has no interest in arguing about why she is correct, when it comes to her ideological opponents — Leftists, educationalists, environmentalists, Tory wets, the legal establishment, the Westminster blob — she is equally uninterested in explaining why they are wrong. Everything she disagrees with is basically the fault of Michel Foucault, who she “discovered while taking a course in political sociology”.

In place of rational justification comes a deluge of contemptuous invective. Left-wingers are lily-livered do-gooders, wracked with liberal guilt and self-loathing; educationalists advocating for child-centred play in nurseries are “so-called experts”; environmental campaigners are “watermelons” (green on the outside, red in the middle); world leaders “pontificate” at “jamborees” and “shindigs”; the media is essentially trivial and personality-obsessed; Tory dissenters to the Truss doctrine have forgotten what real Conservatism is; and so on.

She is just as scathing about former senior colleagues. Cameron indulged in “too much wishy-washy flannel about ‘the big society’ and ‘general well-being’”; while Gove and Cummings are both guilty of one of the worst possible offences in Truss’s eyes — having “anti-growth instincts”. Only ordinary party members are as far-sighted and clear-minded as she is, acting as a kind of reassuring mirror whenever she loses faith: “On everything from solar farms (I hate them) to women not having penises to quangos being too powerful to taxes being too high, we were on the same page.”

All in all, then, the former PM does not seem the most obvious candidate for a proposed revamp of The Brains Trust; but nor, unfortunately, would she be much good on The One Show. Warm expressions of empathy appear profoundly alien to her. When, after a demotion from Theresa May, Sue Gray tries to give her an “unsolicited embrace”, she is frosty: “I am not a hugger”.

As Boris Johnson lies in hospital nearly dying of Covid, she seizes the moment as Trade Minister, and gets him “to sign off on starting trade talks with the US… I knew he would have his mobile phone on him and be free of nefarious Downing Street influences.” At another point, she chases him down a fire escape to get him to agree to her meeting Trump.

By her own confession, she is not “a great people manager”. Fellow human beings seem to baffle her; she can’t understand why they don’t see what she does, as she gazes lovingly into the eyes of her twin obsessions, freedom and economic growth (“I hadn’t gone into politics to deal with floods or fix prisons”). She isn’t worried about any of the familiar critiques of neoliberalism, in terms of its causing obscene wealth gaps, community deracination, or cultural homogenisation, for instance; indeed, she doesn’t appear to have heard of them. Technology is good if it leads to growth, and bad if it inhibits it; so fracking and genetic modification of crops are in, and “bat bridges” across motorways — which she seems to think are designed for bats to scurry across on folded wings — are out. One reason we need to stand up to China is that if we don’t, they are going to beat us on growth; and we should copy the brutally draconian Chinese methods of teaching children in order to keep up with them.

“Fellow human beings seem to baffle her.”

At least in the political arena, she seems to dislike groups of all kinds, from trade unions to some large corporations; and is unable to muster any positivity about things like community or solidarity between fellow tribe members. All she sees are “vested interests” constantly thwarting her bold schemes for freedom and growth — as when, for instance, plans as a junior minister to lift limits on the number of children per childcare worker were foiled by “vested interests in the nursery industry”.

Thatcher thought there was no such thing as society; chastened by her eventual humiliation as leader, Truss goes one better and tells readers there is no such thing as “the market”: instead “there are groups of influential individuals in the financial establishment, all of whom know and speak to one another in a closed feedback loop.” It turns out that, even among capitalists and self-described free marketeers, there was cronyism and corruption all along, a result which seems to surprise and sadden her.

It is easy enough to see what Truss hates, then, but what does she love? What is all the hard-won freedom for, as far as she is concerned? She likes getting out in the open air, and staying in budget hotels. Musically speaking, she confesses to pumping herself up before leadership debates to “a soundtrack of Queen and Whitney Houston hits”. There is little affectionate talk of times spent with friends, and she doesn’t seem much of a foodie. Where others might see the EU’s “504 different classifications of biscuit” as a sign of an advanced gastronomic culture, she emphatically does not. She doesn’t seem to have enjoyed her childhood with Left-wing, environmentalist parents much either — “it seemed all about beetroot tarts, composting toilets and talking about the dangers of overpopulation”.

There is a similar lack of enthusiasm for the progressive education she received at her Leeds comprehensive school; for some reason she seems particularly offended at having been asked, aged 13, to stand on her desk and pretend she was on “Sir Francis Drake’s ship, The Golden Hind”. She does seem quite enthusiastic about Australia — “like Britain but without the hand-wringing and declinism” — and also professes herself “a long-standing fan” of the Baltic states and Poland, because of their “visceral love of freedom and democracy after having spent so many years under communist terror”.

Truss’s much vaunted political instincts are not always wrong. There are a few wise attempts at self-deprecation in the book, even if they don’t quite convince. She has embraced several good causes in her career, including making the legal system more meritocratic, extending the use of video evidence for rape victims in court, trenchantly rejecting transactivist nonsense in institutions, and arguing against Chinese slavery practices. Still, having read her book, I couldn’t swear with confidence she didn’t hit upon these commendable attitudes accidentally.

But still, being charitable — as Truss is not — perhaps the book was not written to win over opponents like me. Rather it might have been intended as a stentorian call to fellow-travellers; roughly, saying she’s the biggest, hardest, most tax-cutting freedom-loving neocon in the room. There are also signs that she might have a US audience in mind: for instance, in her introduction, where she dramatically recounts the death of the Queen and crams in some backstory that insular yanks might not know (who Truss is; who Boris Johnson is; who the Queen is). But if this is right, then once again the famed Trussian people skills have let her down — for in the service of winning over supporters abroad, she has irredeemably alienated a far larger number of potential converts at home. Keir Starmer should ship copies to every teetering Tory constituency in the land.

The unintended moral of this book is that if we can’t have high intelligence in a politician, we should at least insist on empathy and good understanding of others; and vice versa. It would be nice if we could have both but beggars can’t be choosers. Without either, we might again end up with a leader who, without any warning, takes a wrecking ball to the status quo at an already profoundly anxious financial moment, in the pursuit of goals relatively few people accept as desirable — and who, two years later, thinks it was mostly the fault of everyone else for not grasping that it was really a precious gift all along.

***

Liz Truss will be discussing her book at the UnHerd Club on 3 June. Buy tickets here.


Kathleen Stock is an UnHerd columnist and a co-director of The Lesbian Project.
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Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
1 month ago

She sounds like a Tory Hillary Clinton.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago

Thats flattery, believe it or not.

David McKee
David McKee
1 month ago

A good book reviewer is there to read bad books so her readers don’t have to. Prof. Stock has fulfilled her task admirably.

We discover that Truss really doesn’t have a clue. She has not done her homework: to dissect exactly what has gone wrong, to sketch out a better way forward, and how to get from here to there. Homework involves reading books, talking to people all over the world, and it takes years of intellectual effort.

It’s clear Truss is no Thatcher. She might have had a short lived stint as a junior minister in a Thatcher government, but that’s all. A modern-day Edwina Currie, perhaps?

Dennis Roberts
Dennis Roberts
1 month ago
Reply to  David McKee

Liz Truss is a person who would watch someone perform a task, say repair a cabinet with a hammer and nails, and then when asked to repair a car would pick the same tools because that was what worked previously.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

She would then try to knock the hammer in with one of the nails.

Richard Powell
Richard Powell
1 month ago
Reply to  David McKee

A bit unfair on Edwina Currie, with whom I spent 48 hours when she visited Finland in 1987 to look at approaches to reducing heart disease through diet, and who was (i) on top of her brief and (ii) an empathetic person it was fun to be around.

McLovin
McLovin
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard Powell

And forced out of office unfairly?

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 month ago
Reply to  David McKee

Truss should have focused on de-regulation, not fiscal policy. There’s not much point in cutting taxes on small businesses if you are going then to compel them to spend billions on pointless exercises like GDPR (which cost £8bn to implement).

Gabriel Mills
Gabriel Mills
1 month ago
Reply to  David McKee

It’s been obvious for many years that Truss doesn’t have a clue. The mystery remains how she got to occupy so many high positions, to let us know it: in every dimwitted response to a print or broadcast journalist. A walking Spitting Image puppet of neoliberalism.

J Bryant
J Bryant
1 month ago

I assumed that after her humiliatingly short time as PM, Truss would retire to the lecture circuit, make money, and fade from the public consciousness. But perhaps I share her inability to understand other people, because, instead of blending in with the wallpaper, she’s back clamoring for attention. I suppose if a solid dose of ego got her to the political top, the same ego will drive her to somehow redeem her failed PMship.
As an aside, I saw her interview on The Spectator website. She is not a gifted or charismatic speaker. She’s Maggie Thatcher minus the overwhelming personality.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I believe there might be a job coming up at the Post Office.

Liakoura
Liakoura
1 month ago

“Left-wingers are lily-livered do-gooders, wracked with liberal guilt and self-loathing;”
Really, because the milder one’s I’ve come across are far more wedded to Ms Rayner’s ‘Tory scum’ or Aneurin Bevan’s ‘vermin’, while the angry one’s prefer a ‘put them all up against the wall’ retort.

Liakoura
Liakoura
1 month ago

“Left-wingers are lily-livered do-gooders, wracked with liberal guilt and self-loathing;”
Really, because the milder one’s I’ve come across are far more wedded to Ms Rayner’s ‘Tory scum’ or Aneurin Bevan’s ‘vermin’, while the angry ones prefer a ‘put them all up against the wall’ retort. 

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
1 month ago

She doesn’t care about her political career. It’s a case of you can bring a dummy to water, but you can’t make them drink.

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
1 month ago

Yet again the tired Thatcher “quote” about “society” taken out of context…

Andrew D
Andrew D
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

It’s a bit like Powell’s ‘rivers of blood’ speech. S/he may not have said it, but should have (at least in the view of their enemies)

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Well she did say it, but if you read it in contest it was an entirely sensible, reasonable and empathetic. Full quote below
‘I think we have gone through a period when too many children and people have been given to understand “I have a problem, it is the Government’s job to cope with it!” or “I have a problem, I will go and get a grant to cope with it!” “I am homeless, the Government must house me!” and so they are casting their problems on society and who is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first… There is no such thing as society. There is living tapestry of men and women and people and the beauty of that tapestry and the quality of our lives will depend upon how much each of us is prepared to take responsibility for ourselves and each of us prepared to turn round and help by our own efforts those who are unfortunate.’

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 month ago

A fancy way of saying the government is washing its hands of its responsibilities towards its citizens basically

Peter B
Peter B
1 month ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Not what she said at all.
Suggest you re-read it.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter B

To paraphrase “the government isn’t going to help so you’ll have to sort yourselves out”

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

But with a bit of self help sugar coating!

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 month ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

The government is not a dustbin into which we an dump all our responsibilities

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 month ago

That’s correct. A government’s main purpose is that of defense which includes protecting its national borders, a role most Western countries have abandoned.

Martin Butler
Martin Butler
1 month ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

Who says? The idea that any society simply lets its citizens just get on with it (apart from being deeply unattractive to most people) has never actually existed ever anywhere. Just a theory like communism. Bizarre that supposedly intelligent people take it seriously.

glyn harries
glyn harries
1 month ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

Funny that as big buisness seems to see govt as an endless source of grants and rescues. Oh and they rely on it for educating their workers, healing them when sick, and providing the transportation systems to get them to work, while all the time working out hwo to not pay for all that.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
1 month ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

If you are receiving a lot of handouts from the government you will believe they are helping you. Ask yourself where the money is coming from. Also remember what Thatcher said about that – the socialist will keep spending until they run out of our money.

Martin Butler
Martin Butler
1 month ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

Yes – no more state pensions, no more universal credit (a high proportion of which goes to private landlords), no more NHS. Not sure you would find this popular.

Richard Calhoun
Richard Calhoun
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

Welfarism is destroying our economy and our values … the present direction of travel is unsustainable … taxes at an all time high and debt at an all time high and rising £2.5 Trillion

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

And no more bank bail outs

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

I let out a flat and 15% of the rent goes to the agent, 45% to the government in income tax, 6% on service charges, about 4% on maintenance and the remainder to the mortgage lender. I personally see none of the rent at all.
I’m keeping the flat in case my daughters need it, because thanks to the above lunacy, it’s now almost impossible to rent.

0 0
0 0
1 month ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

The amount of the rent that goes to the government in income tax is a function of your overall tax position and nothing to do with the flat. Someone else could find that less than 20% of the rent went in income tax.

Santiago Excilio
Santiago Excilio
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

‘No more NHS’ – well given it’s current state that would be a good thing.
One of the foundational lies of the NHS is that there was no effective health care prior to its introduction. This is of course rubbish, there were friendly societies, provident societies, charitable hospitals, (all the great hospitals were founded well before bevan was born), religious hospitals for the poor (think Barts), Hospital Contributionary funds etc. Bevan himself as a young kid had his healthcare provided by the Tredegar Workmen’s Medical Aid Society. What offended the socialist sensibilities of bevan and his ilk was that it wasn’t centrally controlled and organised by ‘the State’.
And in any case all this has to be paid for it doesn’t come ‘free’ as some people think. it is all paid for out of general taxation; whereby central government takes your money (under threat of prison if you don’t comply), wastes a significant proportion of it through internal inefficiency and then provides you substandard services in return. Wonderful. I’d rather pay my way.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
1 month ago

Much of the healthcare supplied is best practice. That isn’t the issue. It is the inefficiency of the bureaucracy that makes it too expensive. And along with the voting block of government workers that feel they can vote in governments that will reward them.

0 0
0 0
1 month ago

Watch out what you wish for. In my extended family in the US , which includes examples at a wide range of income levels, more than half have had their assets laid to waste by health costs in each generation. Despite the public and private insurance arrangements they subscribed to.

Kent Ausburn
Kent Ausburn
1 month ago
Reply to  0 0

I am a US citizen and I call BS on your claim. I am middle class, have lived here all my adult life and I don’t know of anyone who have had “half their assets laid to waste by health costs”.

Damon Hager
Damon Hager
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

And did Mrs Thatcher abolish state pensions, welfare for the less fortunate, or the NHS? No. All went up, often significantly, under her premiership. This is also because she realised that unless you get the economy right (not least by undoing the appalling damage wreaked by decades of socialism), you can’t afford to pay for much.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 month ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

The problem with quoting Thatcher is that she eventually ran out of state owned assets to sell to mask her economic incompetence. Her tenure was a crash, a boom then another crash, with growth averaged out at around 2% per annum. When you consider this coincided with a North Sea oil boom, the selling off state owned utilities and housing as well as women starting to enter the workforce in much greater numbers it’s a rather pitiful return

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 month ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

thatcher inherited a country still suffering the fallout of WW2 and wrecked by 35 years of socialism

Damon Hager
Damon Hager
1 month ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Yes, Billy Bob. Because the country was in such great shape in 1979.

Dr E C
Dr E C
1 month ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

I’m no fan of Thatcher but you do know, I hope, that ‘the government’ is a noun itself made up of citizens & that ‘it’ only has money to spend on ‘its responsibilities’ because of the collective effort of all citizens via taxation. Ie there is no welfare unless citizens who work fund it. I believe in welfare, I’m just checking you get how it works.

Keith Merrick
Keith Merrick
1 month ago
Reply to  Dr E C

I suspect Billy Bob thinks the government has it’s own independent money supply that comes from somewhere other than tax payers.

Santiago Excilio
Santiago Excilio
1 month ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Shorn of all the latter day intrusions into peoples lives, States have very few core responsibilities: defence of the state, enacting laws to govern the behaviour of citizens, enforcing those laws. The rest of the edifice of government is an optional choice.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 month ago

Is the down vote for reproducing the actual quote?

Alison Tyler
Alison Tyler
1 month ago

probably, as that is the correct quote but many still refuse to believe it preferring the version that is misquoted to defame Margaret Thatcher even further

Colorado UnHerd
Colorado UnHerd
1 month ago

Thanks for providing this needed context. Makes me nostalgic for leaders of the past and leaves me longing for modern leaders of similar character and outlook.

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
1 month ago

There may be no such thing as society but there are powerful cartels, ‘deep state’ cliques etc.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago

You could push that further and say that the denial of “society” removes the ordinary persons counterbalance to those cliques and cartels.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

She didn’t deny society. She said that it actually consists of all other individual men and women and families besides you, i.e. it’s not some big amorphous, anonymous blob. So when you dump all your problems onto “society”, what you are actually doing is costing other individuals, because they make up and fund “society”, and your demands have a cost that they bear. You are inflicting yourself on other people.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 month ago

Indeed and they all have their hands in the public pocket

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
1 month ago

Basically quoting Wittgenstein. Big government sorts like thinking the milk of human kindness comes from big government. It doesn’t. It comes from individuals.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  Bret Larson

Or perhaps, basing their view on history, some people just think charity isn’t enough.

0 0
0 0
1 month ago

It’s an understandable but incoherent mishmash of similar appearing statements about different things. We all know that governments, like all other organisations of people, act by concerting individual actions. You don’t then say governments, or businesses, don’t exist or are meaningless abstractions. ‘Society’ is a bit different. One is entitled to ask what are its actual manifestations or means by which ‘it’ can have effect. There’s an array of answers to that in a Jane Austen novel, let alone courses in any social science.

But here, Thatcher equates government and society, an understandable elision for a Prime Minister, you might say. But that’s her undoing because it shows, and underlines, ways that society exists with observable concrete effects on individuals by other individuals.

So the polemical point of making this elision, which is to claim that governments shouldn’t do certain things in relation to certain individuals, is just left there floating in the air. Less rather than more supported by her self contradictory statements about government and society, except for those who don’t won’t look under the lid because they’re happy with what’s written on the tin.

A prime example, then, of a misunderstanding that becomes memorable because it was meant to bemuse politics and avoid directly confronting the costs and benefits of policy alternatives.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
29 days ago
Reply to  0 0

Well I’m sure you thought you knew what you meant

nigel taylor
nigel taylor
1 month ago

I entirely agree with every word of that extract ; individuals, for the most part, are architects of their own successes and failures and should bear the responsibility of their actions without recourse to a charitable State.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

Yes; more than a little disappointing from Kathleen Stock (who i greatly admire) but especially in the context of an article which seeks to take someone else to task for falling short of intellectual rigour.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

Never forget she’s a malevolent lefty. Just because she’s on the right side of one particular internecine feud of the left, that doesn’t mean she’s rational on anything else.
Rowling same thing.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Silly, arrogant, self-aggrandising post. My money is on KS rationality rather than yours. Disagreeing with you doesn’t automatically make someone wrong!

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

Pot and kettle I am afraid

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 month ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Absolutely agree

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
1 month ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

I agree that the splenetic tone was rather different to her normal style. Perhaps she has been forced to exercise incredible self discipline in her utterances since she was forced out of Sussex University and progressive debates. If so, I imagine now that she find herself vindicated there must be a pleasure in writing exuberant, less inhibited or even vitriolic pieces. Understandable. Hopefully, she will revert to her well informed hyper rational approach in future essays.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

Just what I thought and I stopped reading at that point. I wasn’t impressed with Truss as PM or when I have seen her speak since. However, I thought she made a lot of sense when Farage interviewed her recently.

glyn harries
glyn harries
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

Sure but Thatchers actual destruction of society – our industry, our communities, social housing and critical national institutions – illustrates that she believed it all too well

David Giles
David Giles
1 month ago
Reply to  glyn harries

Oh really. “Actual destruction of society”. You mean allowing people to own their own homes? Selling commercial businesses that have no place in public ownership? And how was industry destroyed when we make more now and export more then ever before? And destroying communities? You mean she closed summer coal mines? And?

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago
Reply to  David Giles

Nearly half of the social housing sold under right-to-buy has ended up in the hands of private landlords, which has contributed to the current housing crisis. Water – total disaster, Energy – same. Trains – joke.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

And the availability of low rent non-stigmatised social housing acted as a dampener on house prices.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Another dishonest lefty post that talks about a housing crisis without mentioning mass immigration.

Santiago Excilio
Santiago Excilio
1 month ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Private landlords like Angela Rayner . . .

glyn harries
glyn harries
1 month ago
Reply to  David Giles

Do you like Britain as it is today? Millions of people running as fast as they can to earn as much as they can and damn they rest. Homeless people and beggars everywhere. Mass immigration as millions are sick or not prepared to work for pennies. Communities where no ones knows they neighbours. Pubs shutting all the time, let alone all the 1000s of libraries, youth centres and institutions that held society together. British institutions like the Post Office and Royal Mail and especially the NHS in chaos, and utilities a massive rip off. Shareholders taking money and not reinvesting in Britain but off shoring their cash. And the industry that was the backbone of the country, steel then coal then manufacturing disregarded. Most of what is wrong with this country is a consequence of Thatcher and the Tory, and then Labour’s, adoption of neo-Liberalism.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  glyn harries

Most of what is wrong with this country is a consequence of Thatcher and the Tory, and then Labour’s, adoption of neo-Liberalism.

Its undeniable! And as a result Britain is just not the sort of country it could, and should, have been. Even many of those who can afford housing will be making it their life’s work to buy a house inferior in every way to the council house I grew up in.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

You are still mentally trapped in that council house, and you did not grow up. There is no escape, ever, from leftist poverty of mind.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Oh dear!

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
29 days ago
Reply to  glyn harries

Deluded

Norfolk Sceptic
Norfolk Sceptic
1 month ago
Reply to  glyn harries

Even in a successful Steady State Economy there’s continual destruction, and renewal. But after 40 years of ridged state run ‘enterprises’ there was much to renew after WWII. But many didn’t want to change, anything at all: working practices, for example. And even the ‘paternalistic’ with the Tory Party prefered to sail on pretending we had guarrenteed sales, the workers had job security and there was plenty of money for the state to spend. And then we had the Winter of Discontent.

It’s going to be much worse now, as the Rest of the World has caught up, and the West have forgotten what it takes to be successful in the big industries, where much wealth can be generated. Yet the current ‘Tory government’ appears to support the no growth, no renewal, option.

At least Truss wanted fraccing! Why is it OK to buy ME Oil & Gas, yet developing our own is beyond our imagination?

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 month ago
Reply to  glyn harries

Britain had started to lag behind Germany from 1870 and the USA from 1900. We came out of WW2 with a massive debt, vast over manning of un and semi skilled jobs and unions refusing to update technology which could reduce employment of un and semi skilled jobs. Innovation, quality and delivery were inadequate because of strikes and un and semi skilled unions not understanding that we had to compete in World Markets. Japan learnt to construct 100K T merchant ships from the late 1960s which meant we lost shipbuilding, much steel production and coke production . 75 % of mines were unecomic; we produced coal at 42/t when the world price was £32/T. We vastlly expaned humanities education post 1960s , not applied science and enginering needed to modernise our industry.
Pre mid 1960s welfare was based upon helping hard working honest people fallen on hard times , not a lifestyle for those discinclined to work.
In 1976 J Callaghan noted something was wrong with our education system.
The beginning of cutbacks took place under Callaghan from 1976-1979.
If the labour Party had realised what Britain needed to create a fully modernised industry in 1945 and the 1964,perhaps Thatcher would have never beeen voted in.
For the tree of knowledge to bear fruit it has to be pruned and watered. By 1979, Britain needed drastic pruning and a redesign of a garden which did not require a vast unskilled workforce to maintain but a small highly skilled one.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

This article is a reminder that while conservatives might look kindly on Stock because she is correct about trans lunacy, she’s still a lefty who is doctrinaire and wrong about pretty much everything else.

aaron david
aaron david
1 month ago

Unlike the vast majority of politicians, she seems to have the courage of her convictions. Bully for her.
So far as this review goes, it doesn’t seem to look at what she is saying charitably, as Stock puts it “…perhaps the book was not written to win over opponents like me.” One cannot successfully review a book if one is it’s complete antithisis, indeed, one must be open to what it has to say in order to see past the beam in ones own eye.
Anyway, anyone who hates Foucault that much can’t be all bad.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 month ago
Reply to  aaron david

The courage of her convictions, an underserved confidence and complete lack of self awareness. She’s almost a parody of a politician

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

She’s almost a parody of a person!

Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

Asperger’s is frequently under -diagnosed in women and girls, and this ‘condition’ is the reason for her ‘oddness’.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  Jane Anderson

I have to say, my money was on narcissism.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

No that would be you

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
1 month ago

That wasn’t very nice?

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  Carl Valentine

It wasn’t was it. Obviously a few feathers getting ruffled.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

I was just playing Catchphrase

aaron david
aaron david
1 month ago
Reply to  Jane Anderson

Yes. Along with my wife suffering from this, it does put a fine point on those who would claim compassion, but fail to show it, such as some in this thread.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  aaron david

Does your wife plan on becoming prime minister?

Jack Martin Leith
Jack Martin Leith
1 month ago
Reply to  Jane Anderson

You may well be right.
BTW, it’s now called Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

I always thought Lembit Opik was the most hilarious MP. For a man who spent his life in a position of scrutiny he was blissfully unaware of the term public image, breaking his back paragliding and squiring one of the Cheeky Girls.
I think Truss takes his crown now, but she does it in a completely unintentional manner when her abilities are almost in complete opposition to her confidence in them

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Dunning – Kruger in action!

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
1 month ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Somebody that despises the job? Sounds like the perfect politician.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  aaron david

Unlike the vast majority of politicians, she seems to have the courage of her convictions.

Unfortunately in her case it is entirely unwarranted.

j watson
j watson
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

Yes and on the ‘convictions’ issue – she was a Remainer. Until her political calculus and ambition got her to change. She’s not a conviction politician. She’s just seen one way to get ahead.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

Yes, because, obviously, anyone who has the temerity to disagree with you must be operating in bad faith, eh?

j watson
j watson
1 month ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Err I’m not sure if you are disagreeing with me here HB? The positions you adopt can be confusing as I sense you are tripping over yourself to insult before you’ve properly collected your thoughts. Why do you think Mad Liz was a Remainer, until she wasn’t? And why was she in the first place if such a conviction politician?

Dr E C
Dr E C
1 month ago
Reply to  aaron david

Believe me, you can both hate the paedophilic Foucault & the gibberish industry he spawned & hate walking neocon Godzillas like Truss at one & the same time: political horseshoe. I didn’t realise till now that Truss’ parents were environmentalists. Her irrational, delayed-pubescent rebellion against no-brainer attempts to conserve a tiny bit of British wildlife only make sense in that context.

McLovin
McLovin
1 month ago
Reply to  Dr E C

There’s a picture of her as a kid at a Greenham Common demo. Moral is: parents shouldn’t assume that their kids share the same views that they do!

Tony Price
Tony Price
1 month ago
Reply to  Dr E C

Ha,Ha – I didn’t understand why anyone would be upset by the chap who discovered the pendulum etc, then I looked up and found out that there was another Frog who did philosophy, of a sort that seems to irritate people on here – he can’t have been all bad then! I don’t know why and I have no intention of wasting time finding out!

Martin Butler
Martin Butler
1 month ago
Reply to  aaron david

The good news is Tory party is starting to fall into the habit of choosing unelectable leaders, after Boris Johnson. Everyone thought Sunak was a safe pair of hands, but he is now reaching Truss levels of unpopularity. Let’s hope they keep this up so we can completely forget about them for a generation.

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
1 month ago
Reply to  aaron david

‘Hates Foucault’? Yes, but come on, who thinks she’s actually read anything by or about Foucault other than some lecture notes or a study guide?

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
1 month ago

This is poor. Truss asks an important question: is it possible for democratically elected politicians in our current settlement to enact their policies in the face of institutional resistance? Stock, like many other commentators, ignores that and prefers to make cheap jokes and snide remarks.

Dennis Roberts
Dennis Roberts
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nash

Stock is behaving like a typical modern day opponent in that respect. But you’re right, we’re tied up in process, and institutions have values and beliefs that may prevent progress.

But if there is a person able to cut through that, it seems very unlikely to be Liz Truss.

Norfolk Sceptic
Norfolk Sceptic
1 month ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

I can’t see any one person doing it: it’s going to take a team. And probably several waves, with different skills.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nash

In 1939, a bureaucratic oligarchy( BO ) came into power, first in Britain, then the UN an EEC/EU.It recruits largely upper middle class suburban humanities graduates into office. In return for obedience it gives rank and reward without responsibility. Remuneration is adequate for comfortable secure life and more importantly, retirement. When pensions started in 1905, few men lived to the age of 70, most were worn out by the age of 68 years. Now comfortable office workers will live to 85 to 90 years which with retirement at the age of 60 years means index linked final salary pensions lasting 25 years are very valuable items.
For the BO, decline of a country is unimporatnt provided their salaries and pensions are paid.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nash

She’s asking all the right questions….but not necessarily in the right order. Probably because she’s completely tone deaf.

Alasdair Hutchison
Alasdair Hutchison
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nash

But, when considering her authority to ask that question, bear in mind that the only demos that elected Truss as leader was the membership of the Conservative party and that the policies she sought to enact were not the ones put to the wider electorate in December 2019.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
1 month ago

That is a concern, though I didn’t see anyone running on dealing with a pandemic either.

j watson
j watson
1 month ago

Yep, on the money there.
But let’s not let those who elected her off the hook either. The reason she got the keys of No.10 is because the majority of the Tory membership is the same combination of stupidity, selfishness, self-importance and ignorance. A large chunk of the UnHerd regulars daft enough to have backed her too. The reason she’s still out there is these clowns still exist and lap up her twaddle.

Peter B
Peter B
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

You can only choose from the candidates on offer (you might call this the Clinton-Trump dilemma – or the Johnson-Corbyn one). Tory MPs and members were probably looking for the person who’d perform best in the forthcoming election. Whatever Sunak’s qualities, it doesn’t look like election campaigning is one of them – and I think that was clear at the time.
Again, you persist with this bizarre “the electors are stupid” narrative. It’s nonsense.

Andrew R
Andrew R
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter B

JW’s not as clever as he likes to think he is.

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew R

Nobody is as clever as they think they are.

Andrew R
Andrew R
1 month ago
Reply to  Sue Sims

Ok, I was being kind. I’ll call him stupid instead.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter B

I don’t know. Is it stupid to support someone simply because their half baked ideas coincide with your own? I think with “stupidity, selfishness, self-importance and ignorance” JW has pretty much hit the nail on the head.

Peter B
Peter B
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

Missing the point.
Not everyone who voted for Liz Truss actually agreed with all her policies. Most probably didn’t. They just found her less objectionable than the alternative.
I think you’ll find that “swing voters” decide most elections and these are not at all the people you’re out to diss here.
This binary thinking which assumes that everyone who votes a certain way must believe exactly the same things is frankly bizarre. But hold on – there’s a name for this, isn’t there ? Identity politics.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter B

Swing voters decide elections because most people don’t swing!

McLovin
McLovin
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

Very good!

j watson
j watson
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter B

Err, well maybe just this group of electors are stupid perhaps. A choice like Mad Liz takes some doing.
Now on the facts – the Tory MPs selected who went before their membership. They will have been listening to who members supported and positioning themselves for patronage benefits to follow. They had other options. Then 81k members voted for her. There was no discernible signal from the membership they didn’t welcome her or Sunak via high proportion of spoilt ballots or no vote at all.
Bojo of course supported her because he knew she’d be a disaster.
Now to not take responsibility for one’s actions/choices is a bit Woke isn’t it? Would be much more mature to accept suckered and susceptible to too much red meat in one’s diet wouldn’t it?

Peter B
Peter B
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

I think you’d find that most of the voters here would consider it their responsibility to actually vote rather than abstain. That’s certainly how I felt at the last election (didn’t want to vote for anyone, but felt it was my duty to make a decision).
I tend to the view that the irresponsible option when faced with a difficult decision is to abstain. We see this with alarming frequency in the House of Commons.
And the voters are not responsible for the actions of politicians. The politicians are. Certainly not when they start doing things they either said they wouldn’t do or never mentioned. Which is frequently the case.
You don’t really believe this stuff, do you ? Hence the comic book language (“Mad Liz”, “Bojo”).

Dennis Roberts
Dennis Roberts
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter B

“I think you’d find that most of the voters here would consider it their responsibility to actually vote rather than abstain. That’s certainly how I felt at the last election (didn’t want to vote for anyone, but felt it was my duty to make a decision).”

Most people think like that but it results in getting poor, unrepresentative candidates, as the candidates as a whole can count on getting votes from people that don’t actually want to vote for any of them.

I now refuse to vote for anyone or any party I have major concerns about, or I will pick a candidate/party with no chance of winning on the basis of a single issue I agree strongly with.

Why give your vote to someone you mostly disapprove of?

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
1 month ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

The lesser of two evils still results in evil?

Peter B
Peter B
1 month ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

Who said “mostly disapprove of” ? Not my words at all.
If you’re not happy with the candidates on offer, stand yourself. Or find someone who will. Simply abstaining solves nothing.

Dr E C
Dr E C
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter B

Abstaining IS voting. You’re saying you don’t support either option. This is a perfectly healthy response to 2 terrible choices, surely much preferable & _more_ responsible, not less, to adding your vote to one of them?

Peter B
Peter B
1 month ago
Reply to  Dr E C

Where did I say “2 terrible choices” ? I actually meant “couldn’t vote with any enthusiasm or great conviction, but still had a preference and chose the least worst option … felt uneasy about it, but would have felt worse if I hadn’t exercised the responsibility of voting”.
It’s rather like the argument that says that if you have two identically qualified candidates for a job, you should prefer the one who ticks some minority grouping box. I’ve yet to meet two identical candidates for a job. There’s always a difference.
Abstaining is – by definition – not voting.

Andrew R
Andrew R
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

The guy who can only argue through see through fallacies, maybe you have more in common with “Mad Liz” than you think.

j watson
j watson
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew R

I do appreciate AR that explaining how on earth the Right came up with Mad Liz quite a challenge. It certainly has it comedic element as you and others pull contortions to avoid association.

Andrew R
Andrew R
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

Another fallacy JW, I find Liz Truss’ proclamations just as ludicrous as yours.

j watson
j watson
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew R

But the suspicion AR is you only found them ludicrous in hindsight.

Andrew R
Andrew R
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

JW all your posts have been laughable from the begining.

Richard Calhoun
Richard Calhoun
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

With respect, you sound like the proverbial clown.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

Oh, the irony of seeing you accuse others of “stupidity, selfishness, self-importance and ignorance”.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 month ago

I remember reading an article on UnHerd when it looked all but certain that Truss would be the next PM about whether the shock-tactic economic policies were going to work. It was by a renowned economist, maybe Barry Eichengreen, I can’t remember. Anyway – while everyone else of note was saying “don’t do it, this is mad”, Eichengreen actually dared to strike a positive note. Yet even that “positive” note boiled down to this: if A, B, C, D, E, F and G happen (which is rather unlikely), then Truss’s ideas have a slight chance of working out”.
I have no head for economics at all, but I read that and thought “uh oh”.
Well, the Truss premiership was good for one thing: I had several quite entertaining conversations with my dad (a former manager) about Kwasi Kwarteng and why it is that he always tried to avoid employing people with PhDs.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 month ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

General view of many employers:
Masters = good degree, can be trained.
PhD = permanent student, unemployable

p3rfunct0ry 4p4th3t1c
p3rfunct0ry 4p4th3t1c
1 month ago

Great review. Thank you.

When looking at political leaders (leaders of any sort really) I default to the following quote:

‘I divide my officers into four groups. There are clever, diligent, stupid, and lazy officers. Usually two characteristics are combined. Some are clever and diligent — their place is the General Staff. The next lot are stupid and lazy — they make up 90 percent of every army and are suited to routine duties. Anyone who is both clever and lazy is qualified for the highest leadership duties, because he possesses the intellectual clarity and the composure necessary for difficult decisions. One must beware of anyone who is stupid and diligent — he must not be entrusted with any responsibility because he will always cause only mischief’.
(Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord)

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago

Great quote. Clearly the lazy, stupid people aren’t up yet, or the anti-Truss comments would be getting more down votes.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

Oops spoke too soon. They’re up now!

Lyn Poole
Lyn Poole
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

Very tolerant!

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

Again with the irony. Since you’re up early yourself, you qualify as diligent, and judging by the rest of the daft remarks you’re making here, stupid is a distinct likelihood.

So, the extent to which anyone should pay attention to your views is given in this thread, and ironically by your own hand.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 month ago

T E Lawrence said leaders need to be capable of the irrational tenth. T E Lawrence persuaded Auda and the Howeitat to march through the Nafud, cross The Anvil and take Aquaba. Nelson put the telescope to his blind eye and ignored the order from a superior. Shackleton saved his crew by sailing across 900 miles of the Antarctica Ocean and then climbing across the glaciers of Georgia.
R Jenkins said most politicians react to the weather, a minority change the weather. I would suggest a leader needs courage, imaginatioon, initiative, ingenuity, fortitude, endurance, duty ; they achieve what others consider impossible and inspire others to to do likewise.
Today the World is run by a bureaucratic oligarchy( BO) who hate and fear individuals of the calibre of Nelson, Lawrence and Shackleton. The Bureaucratic oligarchy hate and fear the independent individual who treats their rules with ridicule. The BO exist because they create a complex web of rules which they understand and so gives them rank and reward but they never accept responsibility for their mistakes. Great leaders risk their lives for others. The BO sacrifice others lives to save themselves. I give you the Horizon/ Post Office, Mid Staffs Super Bug, Transgender and Grenfell disasters as the results of the BO in action.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 month ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

It is not that they understand the rules, they don’t. It is the fact that they are in charge of selective enforcement and the rules mean whatever they need the to mean at any point in time.
You forgot Covid

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 month ago

Covid once again a result of panic. Those who have endured combat, tend not to lose their nerve. I remeber growing in a village where the Distruct nurse was an ex Army Nurse who had served at Benghazi, Tobruk and El Alamein. She said on several occasions she had to throw herself over a patient as shells were landing around them and the surgeon was operating.

Gordon Black
Gordon Black
1 month ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

The Bureaucratic Oligarchy may be as you say, but I do remember in the first few decades of my adult life, at least they were reasonably competent. All my run-ins with them in the last few decades were down to their bungling INCOMPETENCE.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 month ago
Reply to  Gordon Black

I think this was experience of combat. D Healey said being a RE Beach Master at Anzio taught him much practical leadership. By mid 1980s those with WW2 combat experience had retired.

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
1 month ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Always worth remembering this when wondering why our current politicians seem so thunderingly idle and incompetent.

Santiago Excilio
Santiago Excilio
1 month ago
Reply to  Gordon Black

Yes. Quangos.

Tom D
Tom D
1 month ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Rotherham too.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom D

True.

Roy Gundavda
Roy Gundavda
1 month ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Excellent post!

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 month ago
Reply to  Roy Gundavda

Thank you.

James P
James P
1 month ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Politicians nowadays delusionally believe their job is to change the weather, which is stupid beyond all belief. But I get your point.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago

Which is Truss? Stupid and diligent imo.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

If she was diligent, surely she wouldn’t be so ignorant. And relying on “instinct” is about as lazy as it gets.

AC Harper
AC Harper
1 month ago

And yet you could make a perfectly good case that politics is so ineffective in the UK because there are too many people who have bought into the mindset that any substantial change is ‘too difficult’ and for ‘legal reasons’ that are seldom articulated.
Liz Truss may or (probably) may not be the champion that we need… but someone needs to unpick the Tony Blair World we have been living in. He locked us in, deliberately I think, to a judicial and bureaucratic world that wouldn’t make any significant changes without huge effort.
It takes a certain sort of person to recognise a political Gordian Knot, and another sort of person to cut through it.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  AC Harper

OK, she’s tried the Gordian knot trick. Didn’t go well. So what next?

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

The sword was blunt. C Northcote Parkinson wrote about is his books on Parkinson’s Law in the late 1950s.

j watson
j watson
1 month ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Out of interest – for all our problems where would you sooner live?

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

But will that still be the case in 10 or 20 years

j watson
j watson
1 month ago

I guess the question then is where would your money be on?

AC Harper
AC Harper
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

Perhaps here, but in the 1980s when the question ‘who rules Britain?’ was asked.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
1 month ago
Reply to  AC Harper

I thought Heath asked that in the early 70s and received the answer, no you

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 month ago
Reply to  AC Harper

It’s in the nature of ‘social democracy’ that, as government becomes larger and more centralised, so it attracts more parasites – until, eventually, it ceases to have any function beyond serving the vested interests. At which point genuine democracy (aka ‘populism’) rides to the rescue. Or not.

Dr Anne Kelley
Dr Anne Kelley
1 month ago

I admire Kathleen Stock for her bravery and resilience.
Sadly for me, this scathing review of Liz Truss’s book has weakened my admiration of Kathleen’s ability to approach a subject with intellectual impartiality – which is surely a pre-requisite for a good reviewer? It seems that her political sympathies have overcome intellectual rigour.
Liz Truss is like all politicians – a mixture of good intentions, self-confidence and narcissism. She is not the vacuous numbskull portrayed in this review. Her political career has been marked by highs and lows and she is doing her best to salvage it with her book, which I have never had any intention of buying as I am not drawn to her particular slant on capitalism. She is right, however, on the question of our economy desperately needing to grow. Maybe just not at any cost.

Dr E C
Dr E C
1 month ago
Reply to  Dr Anne Kelley

Name some highs? And name any kind of acknowledgment of the lows? Or any kind of self-awareness shown at any point?
I think KS is rightly pointing out the major intellectual flaws in Truss’ ‘thinking’: that her ideology is irrational, ‘instinctual’ only, & she can’t be bothered even to try to justify her beliefs to herself, let alone others. If this book is an attempt to claw back political power we will need people like KS to point out that irrationality + ambition + contempt for anyone who doesn’t, instinctively, agree with you is a really dangerous combination in a leader.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  Dr E C

her ideology is irrational, ‘instinctual’ only, & she can’t be bothered even to try to justify her beliefs to herself, let alone others

Basically she’s running on emotion and feeling which she takes to be giving her direct access to truth. She’s a narcissist.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

Nah, the hypocrisy is Kathleen’s.

Dr Anne Kelley
Dr Anne Kelley
1 month ago
Reply to  Dr E C

Have you read the book? I haven’t, just a few extracts. I’m not a huge fan of Liz Truss or her politics, but nor am I a fan of crude character assassination.

Dr E C
Dr E C
1 month ago
Reply to  Dr Anne Kelley

No I haven’t, but we’re discussing the merits or lack thereof of KS’s review. I don’t read it as a character assassination, I read it as a critique of Truss’ lack of critical thinking, which you are for some reason ascribing to political bias. Stock is a brilliant former lecturer whom I’ve read many times playing devil’s advocate against her own position for the sake of a philosophically tight argument. I can tell by the quotes she includes in her review that Truss probably doesn’t understand what a critical argument is let alone its importance. As a lecturer myself, I mark essays based on how well argued they are, backed up by evidence, not whether I agree with the student’s opinion…

Dr Anne Kelley
Dr Anne Kelley
1 month ago
Reply to  Dr E C

But would you just get someone else to do your marking rather than making your own decision about an essay?

Dr E C
Dr E C
1 month ago
Reply to  Dr Anne Kelley

That’s a straw man argument. Truss isn’t an anonymous student: I have actually encountered her ‘work’ before. More importantly, we were arguing about the merits of Stock’s writing. I’m not grading or even reviewing Truss’ book.

Gordon Black
Gordon Black
1 month ago
Reply to  Dr Anne Kelley

Yes, KS is a wee bit out of her depth here, I too am a fan but was uncomfortable with this piece.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  Gordon Black

Upvote for managing to associate Liz Truss with depth. Even if indirectly.

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
1 month ago
Reply to  Gordon Black

With respect, isn’t that a little patronising?

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  Dr Anne Kelley

Negative and partial are not always the same thing.

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
1 month ago
Reply to  Dr Anne Kelley

I totally agree that the failure of the British economy to grow at its normal rate since the 2008 crisis is behind – or at any rate amplifies – many of our ills. The sour feeling of decline, the crumbling of public services and even the alienation of the under 30s are all exacerbated by the lower incomes and lack of resources resulting from sluggish economic growth.

One might expect a great national debate around the causes of this almost unprecedented slow down and prescriptions for dealing with this development. Instead politics centres on almost anything other than the elephant in the room. I have little time for Truss and do not think she would have been a good PM, but nevertheless she deserves credit for at least raising the issue of growth even if her solutions appear unattractive.

Incidentally, I do not think Truss was responsible for the gilt sell off which capsized her premiership. Since the 1987 crash there have been a number of self fuelling sell offs in financial markets. Most resulted from attempts to reduce risk by hedging. This was just another example which had the additional feature that pressure from regulators to reduce risk in pension funds had been an important element – especially when the regulators did not appear to realise they were constructing a time bomb. If gilt yields rose to a certain point then a sell off was mechanically inevitable. Both pension funds and regulators were blind sided. It would have made no difference if David Cameron, Gordon Brown or Margaret Thatcher was PM. Truss made a convenient scapegoat for others’ sins. (plus she had upset many by sacking Scholar). That said, I was extremely grateful that Truss went however unfair the circumstances. She is a good illustration of why both parties should revert to letting MPs select the party leader.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 month ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Much of Britain refuses to accept since 1945 competition in World markets has increased we need to train harder and longer to obtain the skills to move entirely into high value manufacturing and services.
Too may people think they can drift through life and obtain well paid secure work without the skills. A friend who was a principal ballerina said one needed a high pain threshold in ballet . She trained 5.5 days a week for 40 hrs, up to retirement and then took a MBA as well speaking three foreign languages so she can manage cultural institutions. She she was born with superb genetics but she has trained from the age of four and up to the age of thirteen trained in balley, gymnastics and athletics.
In boxing tere is a saying ” Train hard, fight easy “. I say start early as well. Switzerland has very few natural resources, what she does have the mentality of her people to undertake the highest quality working using the most advanced skills to produce high value goods such as watches.

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
1 month ago
Reply to  Dr Anne Kelley

I’m at a loss to understand why ‘impartiality’ should be sine qua non for a book reviewer. That would disqualify about 90% of all book reviews I read, and all of the good ones. You need both principles AND opinions to take a view on other people’s work. This is why the BBC and most modern mass media are unreadably/listenably poor.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago

Interesting, but I do wonder if we couldn’t have just left it at: stupid and narcissistic – with a fan base who are stupider still.

Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson
1 month ago

I think it is because she has Asperger’s and doesn’t really process information in commonly accepted ways, and can also get over focussed and obsessed with certain things.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  Jane Anderson

My money is on narcissism. Haven’t read the articles yet, but I see the Guardian takes the same view. They are not always wrong! It explains a lot.

Dr Anne Kelley
Dr Anne Kelley
1 month ago
Reply to  Jane Anderson

That has been my impression too. I don’t think that her personality justifies the cruelty on display here.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
1 month ago
Reply to  Jane Anderson

Fair enough if she does have Asperger’s but it’s not a good combination for a leader. Every politician has to have a thick skin and a lack of self-awareness as survival mechanisms, but a total lack of empathy on top of a blind confidence in her own convictions is a recipe for disaster.
I actually think if KK’s budget had not included the abolition of the top rate of income tax (less than 2% of the total package) he’d have got away with it. But his PR gurus let him down and once the press got hold of a big lump of red meat it was all over.

Richard Calhoun
Richard Calhoun
1 month ago

Truss is a weirdo, many politicians are, but she has latched onto the growth story correctly.
However her biggest mistake as PM was not waiting for Kwasi Karteng to return from New York, instead, sacking him mid flight.
It seems, despite the bravado, she has not the courage or the belief to stand firm, she is no leader.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago

One things for sure, if Liz Truss can become prime minister, even very briefly, the patriarchy really isn’t holding anybody back!

2 plus 2 equals 4
2 plus 2 equals 4
1 month ago

Not inconceivable that Truss will be back on the front bench in opposition. She has a 26,000+ majority in South West Norfolk so will probably survive the coming apocalypse of Tory seats, after which they may have so few MPs they will struggle to fill every role with anyone of any experience.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 month ago

I hope not – she’s a toxic asset in terms of Tory electoral marketability, even if I do think she is far more right about everything than most people will admit. She seems, too, to be aiming herself squarely at the American political market anyway: I suspect that if she becomes politically relevant in the UK in future, it will be as an unofficial channel to Donald Trump.

The Tory Party needs to put Kemi Badenoch into the hot seat immediately after it loses the election, and personally I’d like to see Kwasi Kwarteng on the shadow front bench sooner than Liz Truss – he is a clever, decent and talented man who deserved far better than how he was treated in 2022.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
1 month ago

So dispiriting. We are trapped and harmed by the ever increasing mediocrity of our MPs, something that will become dangerous with the election of the Starmer babe cohort, precisely one of whom has experience of the private sector. The separation of private and public reakms is now a systemic crisis. The public sector is detached and hostile. The death of meritocracy via two decades worth of positive discriminatory and DEI has been cruelly exposed by scandal after scandal in our tawdry Parliament. This quality problem – and the shorter termist nature of a 5 year term – of course drove the Blairite Revolution to create a bigger unelected permanent technocratic prefect class above these unruly sheep. But no one imagined what would happen if this supposedly expert and apolitical Blob turned out to be both non expert and ideologically super confirmist progressive. Cue our broken anti democratic hyper regulatory Rainbow State.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 month ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

Who needs a private sector? Thanks to Modern Monetary Theory we can just print the money we need for public services. As the New New Labour government will demonstrate in short order.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 month ago

I usually agree with Prof Stock but here, today, she’s a little self-contradictory. You cannot make this criticism of Truss:

“In place of rational justification comes a deluge of contemptuous invective. Left-wingers are lily-livered do-gooders, wracked with liberal guilt and self-loathing; educationalists advocating for child-centred play in nurseries are “so-called experts”; environmental campaigners are “watermelons” (green on the outside, red in the middle);….”

…but then yourself dismiss out of hand other things the same way: “…trenchantly rejecting transactivist nonsense in institutions…” – all the Prof is doing here is failing to recognise that her own conversion to sanity on the subject of radical transgender politics is just one step on a bigger journey shared by others, many of whom are further along the road than she is herself.

I am not a standard-bearer for Liz Truss: while I agree with her on most political controversies and in particular that an increasing proportion of public policy is effectively insane, that doesn’t mean that competent statecraft isn’t required to effect change for the better, no matter how amazed she might be at continually having to repeat the transparently-bloody-obvious to other people in power who, through their ineptitude or ideological lunacy, have no business there.

Her heroine, Margaret Thatcher, understood that winning debates in civilised form was necessary no matter how stupid, unpleasant or reckless her opponents: in politics, dismissing people as stupid or mad isn’t acceptable, even (or perhaps especially) when that’s actually true. Political debate is playing to the gallery, not changing the mind of the person opposing you, and you can never assume that just because you can easily perceive why an idea is a bad idea, that the people you’re hoping will vote for you will understand this as readily as you do yourself.

Anyway, I have bought Liz Truss’s book and I will be making up my own mind on it, because I do suspect that in future years a more mature view may emerge in which people realise that September 2022 was the last point at which the UK could have pulled out of its nosedive, but didn’t.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
1 month ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Thanks

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0 0
1 month ago
Reply to  John Riordan

You got it.

Rob N
Rob N
1 month ago

“a reappraisal of decisions that almost crashed the economy”.

Really?? Her decision to reduce tax by much less than Sunak then gave away to a foreign country as some sort of reparations nearly crashed the economy? I was not a Truss fan at all but she was clearly removed by a coup of globalist elites who sabotaged her efforts and manipulated the news and financial markets.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob N

Quite. Anyone who thinks there wasn’t a concerted effort to torpedo the Truss government presumably hasn’t seen Joe Biden’s idiotic musings about trickle-down economics at the time that was clearly aimed at the UK’s mini-budget. Calling the Truss/Kwarteng fiscal package trickle-down economics is cretinous beyond belief.

Peter B
Peter B
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob N

This “crashed the economy” narrative is such obvious nonsense. A transitory market reaction is very, very different from an actual and permanent change in the economy.
I’m happy to bin the comments of anyone too lazy or too stupid to shelter behind this facade. Use real arguments.

glyn harries
glyn harries
1 month ago

Excellent review. Truss is the Right Wing equivalent of what were called the Loony Left. The Ridiculous Right?

nigel taylor
nigel taylor
1 month ago
Reply to  glyn harries

I’ll agree with that comment . Prior to her appointment I would not have believed that such an inadequate individual could rise to either the rank of Foreign Secretary let alone Prime Minister. Her stumbling performances made one cringe with embarrassment ; she is the definitive example of someone who is all furcoat and no knickers.

Adam Huntley
Adam Huntley
1 month ago

I’m sorry but I can’t take any of this book at face value. It has the whole appearance of someone who has sat down with her PR advisor to craft out a public persona. Bojo wanted to be the bumbling, amiable patriot. Truss the kiss ass, no nonsense manager. Sadly I don’t think we will really ever learn the truth

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
1 month ago

I view her as today’s Ayn Rand. It’s a shame she’s also retained her neoconservatism.

Patrick Martin
Patrick Martin
1 month ago

Truss is not wrong about the malign influence of Michel Foucault on our culture and polity.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
1 month ago

A rare lapse in quality from Stock, who has written a piece designed solely to attract plaudits from Truss-haters.
Misrepresenting Thatcher on society is an intellectual low point. As is failing to recognise the role of the Bank (intentionally or incompetently) in her downfall.

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
1 month ago

My thoughts also.

Anyone wishing to find the context of what Margaret Thatcher actually said can easily find it on the internet.

But for ease of reference, here is an extract, showing the distortion with which the ‘no such thing as society’ snippet is often used:

… and so they are casting their problems on society and who is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then also to help look after our neighbour and life is a reciprocal business …

Gabriel Mills
Gabriel Mills
1 month ago

It remains a mystery to me how someone so dim, so anti-rational and so un-empathetic got so far as Truss did in politics. She always seemed like a walking joke: someone who could not be satirised, a Spitting Image puppet.

Do crude ideological slogans really have that much power? Or is it a matching dimness, anti-rationality and callousness in Truss’s supporters that got her to be PM? Something must have resonated.

Truss’s childish aversion to the ideas of her lefty parents and to her comprehensive education seems to explain possibly rather too much.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 month ago

I’m not sure if any rhetorical device is more tedious than the timeline that assumes destruction if it goes unheeded. Once a staple of the climate cult, it is now infecting other aspects of the polity, lending very little to the discussion.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
1 month ago

Liz Truss seems an easy target for Kathleen Stock who despite her regularly tremendous insight is following the usual line regarding our third female PM.
One Thatcher quote which I think is apposite is “everyone needs a Willie” referring to William Whitelaw, home secretary I think, who acted as a calming influence on Thatcher.
I would suggest that Liz Truss’s instincts were correct but that she tried to do too much too quickly. The economic consensus between the parties since Blair has, I suggest, not been a great success. Of course, it’s hard to judge, the confusion of covid being particularly troubling.
Perhaps had that first budget focused on, say, cutting corporation taxes and deregulation she might have survived and I think we’d be in a better place.
Perhaps, Liz Truss’s great sin was this; basically wrecking the chance of a smaller government and freer economy for probably at least 5 more years.
However, I’m disappointed with Kathleen Stock (the only time so far) she can make deeper insights into politics than this.

Gordon Welford
Gordon Welford
1 month ago

For all her academic intelligence KS remains an academic at heart and like most of them doesnt understand that business,the private sector, pays for everything she would want the left to promote.Every socialist government in the world has managed to make the poor poorer.Socialism is great in theory but never has worked

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
1 month ago
Reply to  Gordon Welford

And yet government has a role in steering business taxes towards the sort of things that business would never pay for, if it had the choice. Say, the Internet, for example (a US military project that seems to have got a bit out of hand, I’ll admit).

Gordon Welford
Gordon Welford
1 month ago

And yet real entrepreneurs do just that.Elon Musk failed 3 times before his Spacex business took off,if you will excuse the pun.His project was turned down by NASA and US Govt.It is now probably the biggest company in the world.Govt.has neither the expertise nor the bravery to make such choices,probably just as well

Timothy Baker
Timothy Baker
1 month ago

Whatever her faults, and LT is as human as the rest of us, she is right about Cameron, Gove and Cummings. Unlike Sunak she was chosen by Tory party grass roots, but was dumped by the establishment. She is right about low taxes and the need for growth.
Recent journalism in Unherd is , I’m afraid, not what it was. I see little reason to renew my subscription when it becomes due. A little bit of ungrowth for you to enjoy.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
1 month ago
Reply to  Timothy Baker

” she was chosen by Tory party grass roots”
Again demonstrating that the swivel eyed loons of the Tory party membership have no business having a privileged position in choosing who the prime minister of the nation should be.

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0 0
1 month ago
Reply to  Timothy Baker

Agree.

Rick Lawrence
Rick Lawrence
1 month ago

Not an expert on Truss, but “instinctively” I think KS has got this wrong, and has given us a “deluge of contemptuous invective”.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
1 month ago

Highly amusing to see the sheep who comment here sticking up for La Truss, undoubtedly the worst PM the UK has ever seen, with some stiff competition from her immediate predecessor. You people are so predictable!
Thankfully she and her odious party will soon be swept away and Truss will be remembered, if she is remembered at all, as a joke who was outlasted by a supermarket lettuce.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago

Definitely the least downvotes I’ve ever seen you get!

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

Keep working on it, kiddo!

Tom K
Tom K
1 month ago

Ouch! Enjoyable though.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
1 month ago

I see that the Unherd event at which Britain’s worst ever PM will be flogging her ghost written scribbles is a sell out.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 month ago

Britain was spared never having Kinnock, Corbyn and Foot as Prime Ministers. If Wilson had actually introduced The White Heat of technology Thatcher may not have been elected as PM but then that would have meant breaking the power of the shop stewards in the un and semi skilled unions.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
1 month ago

One gets the sense that Mrs. Stock was wholly unsympathetic to Mrs. Truss before she ever picked up this memoir. That should be disqualifying for a book reviewer on UnHerd.

DenialARiverIn Islington
DenialARiverIn Islington
1 month ago

Well, let’s see. Liz Truss, at least, had a plan. Sunak and Starmer, as they say in America, “got nothing”. Starmer, in particular, shows no sign at all of understanding the sheer impossibility of the searing fiscal trap that awaits him and certainly lacks any sort of coherent macroeconomic strategy to deal with it.

One way or another, we’re going to need a Liz Truss. Whether you like it or not, a Government reset is fast approaching and that does not mean replacing one bunch of unimaginative technocrats with another.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
1 month ago

” Liz Truss, at least, had a plan”
A plan of sorts and a completely disastrous one at that which will certainly doom her party to a generation in opposition.
Glad you liked it!

Paul T
Paul T
1 month ago

For somebody so irrelevant she certainly manages to get a lot of intensely relevant people talking about her and her policies all the time. I don’t know about other people on here but I am a little suspicious about how very quickly she was removed from power; almost as if it had to be done before the orchestrated market blip corrected very quickly afterwards – which is what appears to have happened. What was she saying that has exercised you all so very very much? I have not followed anything she has said but I have watched the incredible energy and response she elicited. One has to wonder what it all means…

RM Parker
RM Parker
1 month ago

I’m not sure that Liz Truss could win an egg and spoon race, tbh. But I’m sure she’d think she won.

0 0
0 0
1 month ago

She was the last hope you guys had.

Phil Rees
Phil Rees
1 month ago

Testing

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago

At least she can never be accused of ” fear of speaking truth to power ”
And some of it is truth no less than the “truths” masquerading as such carried by politicans and their cohorts in media outlets

Citizen Diversity
Citizen Diversity
1 month ago

If the good Liz knows what she hates but doesn’t know what she likes, she sounds somewhat like Oliver Cromwell who has been described in like manner. If anyone wants a Lady Protectress, perhaps she fits the bill.

Santiago Excilio
Santiago Excilio
1 month ago

Interesting article, and thanks for taking the time to read it and report back thereby saving me the time.

I must admit that there is not much, at a fundamental level, that I disagree with in her views: small state, fewer quangos, growth, freedom, green crap etc. and I share her perspectives on people like cameron and gove and much of the left.

The problem is that you have to be able to convince people that your views are founded on some solid thinking, with reasons and arguments if you are going to persuade them to come with you.

You can either push people or you can lead them. The latter is more effective as you can travel further and expend less energy in doing so. Sadly most of our current politicians seems to be from the push school, favouring diktats and legislative enforcement: net zero, DEI, immigration etc. etc. This kind of thinking broadly equates to treating the electorate like sheep; they have to be herded, with dogs nipping at their heels. My personal view is that people are rather more like goats; a bit stubborn but happy to be led by someone they think knows the way. But you have to demonstrate that you know the way, and Truss couldn’t.

You can say what you like about Thatcher. I never found her very likeable (hard to picture her sitting at ones dinner table) but I certainly respected her; she had a vision, she articulated that vision and persuaded enough people to come on the journey. And given where Britain was at that time it was a pretty good journey overall.

Francis Twyman
Francis Twyman
1 month ago

As Trump would say, a loser, deserved to be fired. I won’t read the book, got enough of her sour grapes here

Damon Hager
Damon Hager
1 month ago

But still, being charitable — as Truss is not […].”
And as Ms Stock is not. This is less a review than a long, sustained sneer.

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
1 month ago

Nice. Liz’s ideological conservatism is as useful to conservatism as middle class progressive exhortations about environmentalism are to the environment. An effective businessperson and engineer are worth infinitely more than a billion ideologues

denz
denz
1 month ago

Miaow

Jake Raven
Jake Raven
1 month ago

She doesn’t seem to have enjoyed her childhood with Left-wing, environmentalist parents much either.

Perhaps her upbringing shaped her views. Whilst I don’t like how she says it, I have a good deal of sympathy for her opinions and believe in a lot of what she says.
Had she been more diplomatic and a. better team player she may still be PM, a lot of what she said is now being repeated by both Tories and Labour.
Ms Stock clearly is not a fan of Truss, but Truss’s instinct should not be dismissed, it accords with many voters.

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0 0
1 month ago

Glad to see you extending your remit. Summing up Truss in her own words makes it clear she’s a bot. The problem’s not her but the people who’ve set her up and keep winding her key despite evidence continuing to pour in that she’s not an effective vehicle for their purposes. People like Ashcroft or trans Atlantic fundamentalists. Are they so in love with her phrasebook, having written it, that they can’t see how she shows up its faults and fractures? Or do they regard her as a low cost way of getting certain ideas into play which others have to respond to no matter how badly they’re set out?

M Doors
M Doors
1 month ago

Glad I stopped reading 1/4 of the way through & went to the comments.