by Will Lloyd
Tuesday, 26
July 2022
Review
07:30

Sunak and Truss vie for the world’s worst job

In these circumstances, nobody should covet No.10
by Will Lloyd
Rishi Sunak is 5ft 5in tall.

Let’s start with the positives, such as they were yesterday evening. Candidate Truss believes that Candidate Sunak is a well dressed-man. Asked about his suits, and his expensive loafers, which have been attacked in recent days by the Mail and Nadine Dorries, Truss says that Sunak is: “a very well dressed man”.

Why the candidates were talking about Sunak’s dress was a profound public mystery. For almost six minutes the candidates talked suits and earrings, as a wall-faced audience of Stoke-on-Trent Tories stared on, thinking about their tripling heating bills, the fact that buying a chicken thigh now requires taking out a mortgage, and that they were never asked if they wanted to get rid of the current Prime Minister.

The candidates didn’t talk about immigration, or the NHS, or housing, or productivity. Despite the fact he wasn’t wearing a tie, Sunak kept saying he was a Conservative, and that he believed in sound money, and honesty. He spoke quickly, not through nerves, but from overpreparedness. He was talking the way a clever student writes during an exam — the caffeinated speed of movement that comes with mainlining on information over several sleepless nights.

Sunak blurted over Truss, and she let him. Truss never squandered the asset of silence, which is her strongest by far. Speaking, when you have ideas like hers, is not always for the best. Her zingers — well, the ones that will appeal to the Tory selectorate — involved comparing Sunak to Gordon Brown and Project Fear. She said he had raised taxes to the highest levels in seventy years, that only she could realise post-Brexit opportunities, and that “I’m prepared to take on the orthodoxy”. The reasons why tax is so high, exactly what these post-Brexit opportunities are, and how this “orthodoxy” would be taken on, were never elaborated. She claimed she was a “teenage eco warrior” — the point at which Sunak ought to have shouted NERD at the Foreign Secretary, but Rishi looked forlornly down at his notes instead.

Twenty points down in the polls, Sunak had much more to do last night. He did not blow it, but he did not come close to winning either. It must be hard for him. To beat Truss, he has to get down to her level, which is roughly 140 IQ points below his. When he tried to explain that it would be a terrible mistake to cut taxes this year to Truss, it was like watching an earnest football coach trying to instruct a man with no legs how to do a bicycle kick.

Sunak is too clever to be on that stage, and the problem is that he clearly knows that too, and cannot hide it. Truss says:“I might not be the slickest presenter in the business”, and is applauded. Better to seem dumb and strident, then smart and measured. This is where we are. On presentation, as on economics, the two candidates exist in parallel realities.

In reality reality, which has nothing to do with badly formatted television debates, the OECD recently said that Britain would enter recession next year. It has the worst outlook among G20 nations except Russia, which, as you may be aware, is having a difficult year financially. Inflation is at a forty year high, and the governor of the Bank of England says it will likely endure here for longer than the US or Europe.

Given these circumstances, the obvious though impossible to ask question was: Why would you want to be Prime Minister? In the coming months there will be no worse job in the country.

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Steve Murray
Steve Murray
17 days ago

The snide remark about the Truss IQ puts both the article and it’s author in the “safe to ignore” category. The very idea that you need a particularly high IQ to be a successful political leader would be laughable if it were written by the type of “clever” student that the author refers to. Instead of using it as a stick to beat Truss with, Lloyd might be better off engaging in a spot of self-flagellation whilst repeating the phrase “Must do better” one thousand times.
Both candidates are sufficiently intelligent to fulfill the role of PM. Truss is almost certainly the more likely to employ her intellect to better effect than Sunak seems able to do, given his adoption of an air of superiority over Truss which is not only unwarranted but terminally off-putting to a great many people, i.e. voters.

Last edited 17 days ago by Steve Murray
polidori redux
polidori redux
17 days ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Well said. Before reading this piece I was exceptionally indifferent. Now, I am a coming out for Truss. There is something of the Sunak about Will Lloyd. Must be the intellect thing that they have in common. Or as my mother used to say, “All fur coat and no knickers” .

Last edited 17 days ago by polidori redux
Claire D
Claire D
17 days ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Yes. And if the choice is between someone with the experience of Winchester College or someone who went to Roundhay Co-Ed Comprehensive, both PPE from Oxford, I know which I would prefer.
But the prize is such a poisoned chalice it’ll be a miracle if the winner survives for long.

Iris C
Iris C
17 days ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

A high IQ may not be needed to be an MP but it certainly is needed to be a Prime Minister. (S)He needs to be quick off the mark to analyse and respond to questions when mixing with the intellectually acute here and internationally.

Last edited 16 days ago by Iris C
Iris C
Iris C
16 days ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Both Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak are educationally similar. so their ability can only be judged by their achievements after graduation. Rishi has shown himself to be a good businessman and a politician who can speak fluently and knowledgeably without notes, whereas Liz Truss always follows a script from the despatch box – at least she has done so every time I have watched her discussing foreign affairs.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
16 days ago
Reply to  Iris C

Exactly. Truss is a script-monkey. Like Johnson, her one big idea is to be PM. She has no idea what to do once she gets into power. Her policies are empty, populist nonsense. If she gets in, watch out for lots of ad hoccery and reactive, disjointed populism. Same as Johnson. If she ever does something sensible, it’d be through a mistake. I wouldn’t trust her to do a grocery shop.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
16 days ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

I agree completely, Frank.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
16 days ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Her policies, and Sunak’s, are irrelevant. This is a job interview, not a strategy review.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
16 days ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Oh toughen up, snowflake. Article was funny. Surely all you hard right-wingers can take a joke? You’re always saying that you can.

Tom Watson
Tom Watson
16 days ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Pearls before swine. It is my considered opinion that Tin Lizzy will walk the competition because the Tory party membership is apparently composed of golf club bores who get a tickle in their trousers every time she rolls out her Maggie tribute act.
(Hoping to beat my record for most-downvoted comment with this one)

Kevin Godwin
Kevin Godwin
16 days ago
Reply to  Tom Watson

Sorry to dash your hopes but your entertaining comment is not worthy of a downvote!

Tom Watson
Tom Watson
15 days ago
Reply to  Kevin Godwin

🙁

Matt M
Matt M
17 days ago

I think this is a great time to become PM. Options are available in a storm which aren’t in calmer times.

The argument for fracking is easy to make, for instance: increase security, don’t become reliant on enemies like Germany, reduce prices, help our continental neighbours by selling them oil, gas or electricity.

Also for reducing immigration numbers by raising minimum salary on work visas and getting Rwanda plan running and expanded: protect jobs, stabilise house prices, relieve stress on public services, encourage automation and increase productivity by removing cheap imported labour.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
17 days ago
Reply to  Matt M

All much easier said than done given that all these actions would be bitterly opposed by the Labour Party, the Lib Dems, the BBC and most of the media, all of the Civil Service, the NGOs, the Quangos etc etc. In other words, all the vested interests that have prevented any rational actions or solutions for many decades now.
To deliver even 10% of this would require a combination of Thatcher’s resolve, Blair’s powers of persuasion and Clinton’s charm. Not going to happen.

Matt M
Matt M
17 days ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

But that is the point of voting for someone: they put the interest of their voters above those of the unelected elites.

So say you are going to:

1. Start an onshore fracking industry
2. Link work visas to some index of house prices, GP availability, vacant hospital beds, open school places etc.
3. Proceed with offshore relocation of illegal immigrants and limit overall number of refugee places available.

Produce a plan, stick to your guns and win the next election.

Trust the people!

Last edited 17 days ago by Matt M
Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
17 days ago
Reply to  Matt M

Putting the interests of the people above the unelected elites might be the point of voting for someone. But only very rarely is it the outcome of voting for that someone. The unelected elites are now so pervasive and powerful that they are almost impossible to overcome.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
16 days ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Raising minimum wages will be opposed by right-wing employers, so that will never fly.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
17 days ago

“Sunak is too clever to be on that stage, and the problem is that he clearly knows that too, and cannot hide it. Truss says:“I might not be the slickest presenter in the business”, and is applauded. Better to seem dumb and strident, then smart and measured”.
This is neither surprising nor is it necessarily an indictment of British politics (although there are plenty of other things that are).
It is a crucial element of the British character to despise people who are a) clever and b) have the temerity to show it. If you are cursed by immense cleverness, as Sunak clearly is – do yourself down for goodness sake! For pity’s sake do not be so naive as to expect that you can flaunt your Oxford 1st, explain in plain English your meteoric rise to the top of whatever profession you are in and people still like you enough to vote for you! That is just silly.
(Incidentally, this is the reason why a lot of British do not like the Germans. They are good at what they do (engineering, for example) and have the cheek to actually advertise that fact. How rude! What a lack of charm!)
Instead, when people congratulate you on your Nobel prize, blush bright red, suddenly become interested in a stain on the carpet and say things like “oh..well…thanks…I am quite pleased – but I tripped on the step when I went up to collect it. What a duffer!” Hearts will be yours forever. Sunak has failed this exam with flying colours.
What many people (possibly including Truss) have forgotten is that the trick is to a) be clever, AND b) make yourself appear dim. Step a) shouldn’t be seen as an optional extra that you can skip in your haste to grab the keys of No. 10.

Last edited 17 days ago by Katharine Eyre
Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
17 days ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

If the Germans are so ‘clever’ how did they make themselves dependent on Russian energy? How did they end up funding both sides of the war in Ukraine?
My experience of ‘clever’ people (and academically speaking I suppose I am one of them) is that they are largely useless when it comes to doing or producing anything useful. Again, I include myself in that category.
As for the OECD projects that Will Lloyd mentions, they always have been, and always will be, utterly useless. Again, this is because they are the work of ‘clever’ people.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
17 days ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

The Germans were very naive about Russia. But don’t go too hard on them. Russia was Germany’s “special relationship”…kind of similar to how the UK feels about the USA. Close friends who are at once intimately connected and yet so different. That love each other deeply and yet drive each other round the bend on a regular basis.
Nothing that the USA has ever done (apart from maybe send Meghan Markle) has ever come as close to the repudiation of friendship that Russia has just committed towards Germany.
Getting so hooked on Russian gas and also basing the entire German economic model on the continued supply of it was a highly stupid thing to do (and many Germans have always been acutely aware of this) – but being let down so egregiously by people you genuinely thought were your buddies is nasty. My sympathy outweighs any “told you so” vibes by far.

stephen archer
stephen archer
16 days ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I’m clever too but I don’t think it matters in general. There are a lot of politicians who are clever politicians but less clever in common sense, management basics, sound judgements and business accumen. Then there are fewer politicians who are clever in some of those respects but the cleverness can be trumped by opportunity, political ideology, nationalistic selfishness (France/Germany using the rest of the EU to their own ends), power cravings, short sighted strategies, re-election focus etc. German ideology in closing nuclear power stations I wouldn’t have believed. When you look at the general level of “capability to govern” in a large number of politicians in the west, are they really qualified to take on the task? I’ve often thought the entry into national and even local politics should require proven qualifications and experience in business, technology and/or management (excluding public authorities). The career politicians (mainly left wing/liberal bias) straight out of higher education or even upper secondary school with no or little work experience in earning money and paying taxes do not merit their standing or level of powers and responsibility, at least that’s my view. How have we in the civilised world allowed our businesses and societies with a lot of competent and visionary leaders to be governed and controlled by individuals lacking in meaningful achievement? Sorry, Penny, but you’re a classic example and not even a leftie.

Christine Hankinson
Christine Hankinson
17 days ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Both Truss and Sunak read PPE at Oxford. She after getting a double first in maths A-level from her comprehensive in Leeds her experience of which has been misrepresented. What most shocked her was that on arriving at Oxford her new peers were no brighter than her Leeds sixth formers, they had just had private education and were guaranteed places, like Sunak. Stop over praising the arrogant tiny man. She’s not boastful she sometimes shoot’s herself in the foot. She has always been a politico he always a seeker of status and wealth.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
17 days ago

Quite right. Truss is no idiot just lacks the gift of the gab that Sunak has. That said to say she is not boastful is scarcely accurate given the way Truss has emphasised constantly how she “gets things done”.

Christine Hankinson
Christine Hankinson
16 days ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Well she’s admitted she’s no talker to admit she was no walker either would be very dumb.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
16 days ago

Truss is a politico while Sunak just seeks status and wealth…surely that’s an argument in favour of Sunak? Surely that qualifies him to be the head of a party that has traditionally sought to promote that kind of aspiration? Truss being a “politico” might make her a decent operator in the Westminster bubble but that doesn’t means she’ll be able to come up with and implement anything meaningful if/when she does become PM. I don’t think she will, she’s just feeding the kind of delusions that her supporters want to keep alive until Britain truly crashes and burns.
I have had a similar experience to Truss in terms of education (Yorkshire state comp > prestigious university, suddenly rubbing shoulders with the Eton, Winchester, Roedean graduates). But what I have learned over many years of working with both Sunak and Truss types is that, given the choice of someone who is clearly clever but not very likeable and someone who just rabbits what they think sounds good or will get them where they want to go (BS-ing, in other words)…you’re far better off putting aside your superficial dislike of the former when you need problems solved.

Christine Hankinson
Christine Hankinson
16 days ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

I suspect Liz Truss knows that had her parents not been so left wing (although intellectually privileged) she might have gone to Leeds Girls High School where the expected result at A level was 4 grade A’s; they had massive theatre (now a Wetherspoons!) swimming pool great playing grounds… (now coed The Grammar School at Leeds).
I think this because being a left wing parent of the time I did the same and sent mine to north Leeds comprehensive. A school that couldn’t even retain maths teachers , and as that was necessary qualification at o level for basic matriculation we had to get tutor. Their peer group were very bright. But they deserved better.
I think she genuinely wants to raise the standards of State schools to those of private schools, I believe she sends her daughters to State schools. I might be wrong. We only have a preference of one out of two in this limited competition although it will effect us all. So I hope I’m right.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
16 days ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Good comment, v true

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
17 days ago

The problem with all the presentations in the leadership contest is that as they have been led by MSM journalists of a left of centre stripe they have failed to centre on things that are of interest to conservative and potential conservative voters. In other words how they intend to reduce immigration and generally shrink the state so that reducing taxation is a realistic proposition. Matt M had an interesting suggestion regarding immigration by linking it to quality of life constraints that ought to appeal and undercut the idea that reducing immigration was simply a trope that appealed to racists. Unfortunately there was little that was at all concrete in terms of policy to appeal simultaneously to conservatives and the red wall voters.

That said, of course, to spell out what needs to be done would, of course, redouble the efforts of the entrenched interests whose prosperity relies on state largesse. Lots of people in essentially pointless well paid jobs such as diversity directors and other make work jobs in the NHS need to lose their jobs to get Britain moving in a positive and productive direction.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
17 days ago

Not sure about this – Thatcher never bothered to hide how smart she was nor did she make any big effort to appear nice. And on the few occasions she did, it simply came across an creepy – like the apology on television on the eve of election about the ‘drool and drivel’ comment. People didn’t vote for her because they liked her, they voted for her because they could see she was utterly serious about driving through change. In the case of both Sunak and Truss, people instinctively feel neither temperamentally wants change, so it’s much of a muchness – you may as well pick the person who does the best cosplay. This incidentally is the reason why people like me were disappointed with Johnson – he too didn’t really want change, and didn’t want the confrontations that entails. The entire UK political class is pretty much offering varieties of managed decline, and that is not what the populace wants I don’t think.

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
17 days ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

I’m not actually sure we’re offered varieties of managed decline as much as different sugar coating and rhetoric.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
16 days ago

Germany is probably already in recession, Will, so if ours doesn’t arrive until next year that’s a bonus.
It should be an arrestable offence for any journalist to quote an economic forecast without accompanying it with a table displaying the accuracy of the organisation’s forecasts for the past five years. After all, economic forecasting was only invented to make astrology look respectable.

Albireo Double
Albireo Double
16 days ago

There are problems right now. but I see many many opportunities for this country – just waiting for a leader with sufficient vision and guts to take them up. Whether either of these two are that person remains to be seen. I don’t think we’ve seen much of either of them yet, and I think the “debates” show us absolutely nothing.
I started a business in 1979. Recessions are the very best time to take on a challenge like that, on the basis that the eventual outcome will almost certainly be a big improvement. (And so it was in the case of that business). Also, you start lean, mean and keen, as nothing else will do. And if you are sensible, you maintain it thus, even as times improve – we did.
I would feel exactly the same way about starting off as PM now – just as I expect Margaret Thatcher did in 1979. Hard times are in the eye of the beholder, and so are opportunities. Both are always present. We all have the choice to stand and fight, or turn and run, and when we are faced with that choice, we find out our true measure.

Last edited 16 days ago by Albireo Double
Hector Mildew
Hector Mildew
16 days ago

 “the caffeinated speed of movement that comes with mainlining on information over several sleepless nights.”
“it was like watching an earnest football coach trying to instruct a man with no legs how to do a bicycle kick.”
Whatever you think of the candidates, or Lloyd’s argument, his metaphors are priceless. Thank goodness that there are still writers around who can express themselves in such colourful terms.

Paul Walsh
Paul Walsh
16 days ago

I am managing to largely avoid the show. If someone was in the race that actually voted against the ruinous policies of the last couple of years I might pay more attention. Neither candidate fill me with confidence. Maybe I will get excited if they actually do something useful before the next election, but I won’t be holding my breath.

Harry Child
Harry Child
16 days ago
Reply to  Paul Walsh

Unless you are a member of the Conservative party you have no vote until the General Election in 2 years time or sooner. Someone said “a week is a long time in politics” so plenty of time for the general public to assess the leaders on offer.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
16 days ago

If he is so clever, how is it he did nothing to persuade the BoE to drop its QE and free money habit, and raise interest rates. Why did he spend millions on paying people to eat burgers and millionsor more to su sidise housing prices. Wh6 did he extend furlough payments long after it was nevessary. Whydid he not have his team check for Covid fraud. What happened to the eight freeports he promised in spring 2021. From the description of the debate he sounds intellectually spurious,and the constant interruptions a symptom of arrogance rather than brilliance.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
16 days ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

Exactly. He was just another incompetent fraud as Chancellor, up there with Brown and Osborn.

Last edited 16 days ago by Fraser Bailey
M. M.
M. M.
16 days ago

Will Lloyd wrote, “The candidates didn’t talk about immigration, … ”

Debates do not mean much for informed voters. They have already studied and already know the positions of the candidates.

As Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sunak opposed the policy of sending illegal aliens to Rwanda. (He now claims to support the policy in order to win the race for the prime ministership). He favors multicultural diversity.

By contrast, Truss supports the policy of deporting aliens to Rwanda and wants to expand the scope of the policy. She favors Western culture. (Get more info from the reference.)

The multicultural diversity that Sunak supports is the same diversity that will transform the United States into a Hispanic nation by 2040. By that year, the United States will cease being a Western country, and most Americans will reject identification with Western culture. In California, the majority of residents already reject Western culture, and Hispanic culture dominates.

Truss is not the optimal candidate. She has her flaws, but if you want Western culture to remain the dominant culture in the United Kingdom, then support Truss’ becoming the prime minister.

Get more info about this issue.

Iris C
Iris C
17 days ago

I preferred to play internet bridge with my club last night rather than watch the political (predictable) debate but I did turn on when we were finished playing and saw that the BBC was up to its usual tricks, favouring one side rather than the other. The lighting was such that Liz Truss looked like an English Rose and Rishi Sunak looked darker and sinister.
A man looks his very worst in a suit with an open-necked shirt. I would suggest that Rishi either wears a tie with his suit or goes for smart casual.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
16 days ago

Not unique to Britain. The internet has given a voice to the hoi polloi. The dunderheads are in the (“my truth”) cultural ascendancy everywhere, and they want big emotions, clearly-identified enemies, and simple solutions. Long term, they will destroy democracy. In that context, intelligence is a handicap, unless, like Johnson, you know how to hide it. But an intelligent person who pretends to be thick will come un-stuck. Someone like Trump, who is genuinely thick, has a big advantage.  

stephen archer
stephen archer
16 days ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

well said, Frank

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
16 days ago

Both feel that it would be better to be PM for a couple of unsuccessful years before being booted out by the electorate than to never be PM. Just ask Gordon Brown.
Sunak won’t care about the money. Truss however is probably also looking at the financial rewards for former PMs.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
16 days ago

One must remember that they are not addressing the populous at large…. they are addressing the petit bourgeois Pooteresque intra M25 golf club Consetvative Party membership, whose envy, aspiration, social insecurity and Ill- researched version of class superiority and inferiority ( I hate toffs… I hate proles) is akin to some festering and incurable cerebral condition!