Monday, 1 August 2022
Liz Truss "will overturn stale economic orthodoxy," says Nadhim Zahawi. The incumbent Chancellor of the Exchequer. John Redwood need not think that the keys to 11 Downing Street were already his.
Poor Rishi Sunak, and it is not often that he is called that, is playing catch-up as best he can, but Truss has the pussybow on this one tied up. She will give the Conservative Party membership what it really wanted, tax cuts for the affluent elderly while funding their sweeties out of borrowing, leading to astronomical interest rates to the benefit of savings account holders who had paid off their mortgages decades earlier. All in the throes of a cost of living crisis.
But while everyone else will be entitled to complain, the Conservative and extra-Tory Right will not be. It will have been given a Government beyond its wildest dreams, with either Zahawi or Redwood as Chancellor, with Redwood and Patrick Minford heavily involved in economic policy one way or another, with major spending portfolios for Nadine Dorries and Jacob Rees-Mogg, with dozens of people still in office even though Boris Johnson had appointed them only in order to secure payouts for them when Sunak had sacked them, and with a Prime Minister who literally dressed up as Margaret Thatcher.
I was at Durham just after Truss was at Oxford, so I know that generation of Tory Boys very well indeed, and I am not in any way joking when I say that we should count ourselves lucky that our next Prime Minister was a woman who dressed up as Thatcher. We must not assume such luck next time.
Never underestimate the sheer oddness of the subcultures that comprise the membership of the Conservative Party. Yet for the second time in a row, and for the second time in a mere three years, that membership has the final say on the Premiership. Here, then, is a thought that I publish even if only to invite refutation.
Most Opposition parties have no parliamentary representation, and only in the most wildly improbable circumstances could any install its Leader as Prime Minister without there having been a General Election. But when that office were indeed guaranteed to be assumed by a party's Leader, then its internally determined shortlist of two ought to be submitted to an election among all registered parliamentary electors in the United Kingdom. No party could afford that. But the State could.