Shabbir Lakha on the new Tory PM Liz Truss and what the 99.9% of us who didn't vote for her can expect
Families across the country facing exponential costs and the prospect of a starving, freezing winter will be relieved to know that Liz Truss is our new Prime Minister. The new Tory leader takes office with the resounding mandate of 81,326 votes – just over 0.1% of the population.
So what can the 99.9% of us that didn’t vote for her expect? Joe Lycett captured the mood on Sunday when he told Laura Kuenssberg sarcastically, “[Truss] was very clear in what she said, I think you know exactly what’s going to happen. You’re reassured, I’m reassured.”
And indeed, in her victory speech to Conservative MPs after being elected leader of the Conservative Party by Conservative members, Liz Truss proudly announced between her characteristic awkward pauses for forced claps: “I campaigned as a Conservative and I will govern as a Conservative”. Illuminating stuff.
After weeks of prevaricating on the energy price crisis, it was today reported that Truss is considering a scheme to freeze energy prices. By October, the energy price cap will be nearly 3 times higher than what it was last year, and is set to nearly double again in January.
Whatever Truss’s plans for energy prices are, the proud free-marketeer, Thatcher-wannabe will ensure it’s not the energy companies but working people that still pay. She has remained committed to cutting taxes for the richest and floated “shrinking” the public sector – read more austerity.
Combined with her plans to raise defence spending to 3%, pass further legislation to limit the ability of workers to take industrial action and change the rules of a potential Scottish referendum, we can be sure that Truss’s government will widen inequality and further erode our public services, democracy and civil liberties.
A divided party
Truss was in a lot of ways the continuity Johnson candidate, but even more right wing. One Tory backbencher told ITV that if the leaks on top jobs in Truss’s government are true then it will be the “most right-wing Cabinet in 100 years”.
Truss made it clear she has no intention to call a general election before 2024. Two more years of a right-wing Tory government of ghouls and a useless opposition in the midst of deepening economic, climate and geopolitical crises is a horrifying prospect.
But we shouldn’t forget just how divided and weak the Tories are. Although Truss has been the frontrunner in the competition since it opened up to Tory members, Sunak led throughout the initial rounds among Tory MPs and ended up with a much tighter-than-expected 14% more votes than Sunak.
The last two Tory administrations racked up high scores for the number of u-turns they made, and if Liz Truss’s change-of-hearts during her campaign are any indication, she might just top them.
Truss faces not only a myriad of crises she has no solutions for and the least parliamentary support an incoming Tory leader has had in a long time, but also a growing wave of industrial militancy and widespread public resentment of the government. Truss made it a point in her speech to resurrect the ghost of Corbyn and thanked Boris Johnson for “crush[ing]” him.
We can’t afford another two years of the Tories. We have to make it clear that Truss has no democratic mandate and demand a general election now. We have to escalate the strikes and build solidarity with them, and mobilise on the streets outside the Tory Conference in Birmingham on 2 October and in London on 5 November to fight to get them out.
Before you go...
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Shabbir Lakha is a Stop the War officer, a People's Assembly activist and a member of Counterfire.
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