Tuesday, 6 September 2022
Unlike Theresa May, Liz Truss did not curtsy. For that, the Queen should have made her dance. "You want to be Prime Minister, do you? Then let's see your moves."
So much for Crown and Parliament, as a veteran republican campaigner, who shows no sign of having changed her mind, becomes Prime Minister with negligible parliamentary support. Even in the final round of voting among Conservative MPs, Truss took only 31.6 per cent, with 113 votes. The Labour whip currently extends to 200 MPs.
Truss has, you see, won Britain's Presidential Election. We have them much more frequently than most places, but on a much more limited franchise. Never try and explain to those gold card citizens, although they are not necessarily British citizens, that this is anything other than the self-evident natural order. Their entitlement exceeds even that which some of us remember in the Blairites in their pomp. To them, it is truly the most obvious thing in the world that this is their country and that the rest of us just live in it, which is more than can be said for at least 30,000 of them, one and a half times Truss's margin of victory.
Child voters, however, bother me less, if at all. I remember people in their mid-teens who were at the very heart of the Corbyn Leadership Campaign and of what followed from it. They probably had Jeremy Corbyn's mobile phone number. They could certainly have been put straight through to the Leader of the Opposition, right there in the classroom of some patronising right-wing Labourite. I would love that to have happened. I would have died of joy to have witnessed it.
More broadly, I relished the idea of a teenage Corbyn supporter, often very highly self-educated in things like Modern Monetary Theory and the non-neoconservative view of international affairs, sitting in a Labour Party meeting in the evening with a party machine stalwart with whom he had also spent the day, but now free to drop any pretence that he was less clever and less well-informed than she was.
In that spirit, and although I am aware that this kind of lesson is itself much less likely at a commercial school, the start of the new term presents the ideal opportunity for a hand to go up in some Citizenship class or what have you, followed by the words, "I've already voted directly for who should be the Prime Minister. Have you?"
In a throwback to the calibre of conversation that I once enjoyed as something of a mentor to at least a section of the Corbynite youth, we were discussing Cincinnatus below the line on here yesterday. I always knew that Boris Johnson was a regular reader, and I am glad that he will now have more time to devote to this site.
No previous Prime Minister's midterm removal has been talked of by the professional commentariat as a purely temporary departure. Premiers to have gone in that way have included Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher, Harold Wilson, Harold Macmillan and Winston Churchill, but in no case did anyone speak only of a "last night in office, for now". Johnson is already 58, yet even people who openly despised him, and who contributed significantly to his downfall, take it as a given that there is at least a 50/50 chance that he will back.
After all, whereas Truss has taken office with no sign that she commands a Commons majority, Johnson did so in the full knowledge that he did not, and in any case nearly seven weeks before the House of Commons had even been due to sit again. Yes, he had been Prime Minister for a month and a half before the Commons sat, and at that point he did not even have a formal majority in it, since his party had lost its overall majority at the most recent General Election.
Unlike Truss, Johnson had at least led in every round of voting among his party's MPs, but what mattered was that he had won among the gold cardholders, whose will the Queen apparently existed to implement. This is the second time, this is the second time in a row, and this is the second time in three years, that they have imposed a Prime Minister whom there was at least no reason to assume commanded a majority in the House of Commons. If they tired of this one, then they could always bring back the last one, as he openly hopes and as everyone openly expects. So much for Crown and Parliament.