U.S. and World Politics

Liz Truss—Boris Johnson Redux

By John Blackburn

Update—October 21, 2022—Forty-four days. Liz Truss has secured her place in history as the shortest serving Prime Minister in British history.

The first three weeks of her term were overshadowed by the death of the queen, who had appointed Truss Premier at Balmoral just two days before. The reality of Truss’s economic program, “Trussonomics,” was revealed by her Chancellor, Kwesi Kwarteng, on September 23 in a mini budget presented to Parliament. He was essentially repeating the program on which Truss had won the Tory party leadership election. This ill-prepared and un-costed program of 45 billion ($51 billion) tax cuts for the rich paid for by government borrowing, sent panic through the financial markets. The Bank of England was forced to buy billions of government bonds to stop the collapse of pension funds and to hike interest rates while the pound fell to its lowest value ever against the U.S. dollar.

Despite this, Truss and Kwarteng continued to defend their budget with the Chancellor callously describing the chaos as “a little turbulence.” Mortgage interest rates were rising fast, with the prospect of thousands losing their homes while inflation rose to 10.1 percent and fuel costs were soaring. So began a series of U-turns on Kwartengs’s budget. But still the financial markets were not calmed. Despite reversing some of his plans, the financial

crisis continued, so Truss sacked her previously close ally on October 14 as he was returning from an International Monetary Fund (IMF) meeting in Washington. Jeremy Hunt, who was appointed Chancellor, began the wholesale reversal of Kwarteng’s budget while Truss, who was now Premier in name only, was forced to accept his terms and conditions.

Despite her bravado, “I am a fighter not a quitter,” claiming that she would lead the Tories in the next general election, the opinion polls showed that they were faced with an electoral wipeout. Fear of losing their well-paid jobs, Tory MPs (Members of Parliament) began to panic. Truss had caused chaos in the country, in the financial markets, and faced growing dissatisfaction within her party, so she was forced to resign on the October 20, 2022.

By the time this is published Britain will have another Prime Minister who will have been foist on us by just 300 Tory MPs. With the farce that poses as democracy in Britain today, that Prime Minister is currently billionaire Rishi Sunak as of October 24, 2022.

September 6, 2022—The United Kingdom (UK) has its fourth Tory Prime Minister in six years. Liz Truss has been imposed on the British public by a mere 80 thousand votes—about 50 percent of members of the Conservative Party—exposing the absurdity and truly anti-democratic nature of the UK’s Parliamentary system. Truss replaces Boris Johnson whose administration will go down as the most corrupt and incompetent in the country’s history.

Throughout his political career Johnson has shown no sense of noblesse obliges1 or public duty, his only motive was what he could make out of it for himself. His short-lived government will always be characterized by the lying, corruption and cronyism that became institutionalized and the billions squandered and hived off to friends during the COVID epidemic. While the country was in lockdown his home at 10 Downing Street was the location of frequent illegal parties including one on the evening before the Queen’s husband’s funeral, so much for their avowed royalism.

No serving Prime Minister before Johnson has been convicted while in office. However, this was not sufficient for Tory MPs (Minister of Parliaments) to remove him, only the loss of two bye-elections on June 2, which threatened their jobs, would be. On that night the Tories lost Wakefield back to Labour while even more significantly Tiverton in Devon, where a 24,000 Tory majority was overturned and a Liberal elected as MP. This public rejection made Tory MPs realize then that under Johnson their political careers were in jeopardy. Johnson who’s only comment next day was “not a brilliant night,” was later boasting that he would still be leading the Tories into elections in the 2030s. He was forced out within two weeks.

Matters came to a head when Johnson demanded that members of his cabinet repeat in public the lie that he knew nothing of the sexual misconduct of a loyal supporter Chris Pincher. Fifty government ministers including the Chancellor of the Exchequer2, Rishi Sunak, resigned within 24 hours initiating a vote of no-confidence in Johnson by Tory MPs. When passed, it forced him to stand down as leader of their party. At no point did Johnson ever use the word “resign” but condemned those behind his removal as cowardly backstabbers and describing it as the “greatest stitch up in British history since the Bayou Tapestry3.” He is never one to minimize his own self-importance.

Having stood down as party leader he remained Prime Minister milking the system, collecting the wages, and enjoying all of the benefits and privileges until replaced by Truss. It is clear that Johnson never had any interest in running the country but wanted all of the privileges of the position. (One close friend is quoted, “Boris is only interested in being king and shagging.”) His final remark “Hasta la vista” suggests that he is already planning a comeback. The rank hypocrisy of all Tory MPs was demonstrated when having just removed him as party leader, they gave him a standing ovation at the end of his last Prime Minister’s question time.

[It is historically significant, though never mentioned that Johnson is Britain’s first ever Roman Catholic Prime Minister, though he kept his religion a secret until he was in office. He also achieved what Henry VIII couldn’t—though a divorcee, his marriage to Carrie Symonds was recognized by the Roman Catholic hierarchy and their wedding conducted in their Westminster Cathedral.]

Initially eight Tory MPs were candidates for the leadership and in a series of ballots of Tory MPs, the one with the lowest support at each stage was eliminated until only two remained, Truss and Rishi Sunak. While the country is in crisis Johnson disappeared and these two campaigned on TV and party meetings to get the votes of the ordinary party members. In reality, most of them would prefer to still have Johnson (40 percent in one pole) as he gives voice to their English nationalist prejudices particularly Brexit and anti-immigration which are conduits for their intrinsic racism.

An unprincipled opportunist

Truss whose record shows that she is an unprincipled opportunist has played to this. She avoided being associated with the campaign to oust Johnson in the summer and remained his Foreign Secretary until taking over his job. Some Tory MPs have described her as “useless,” “cowardly,” “dishonest” and “corrupt,” yet despite having held senior government appointments for ten years there is not a single achievement accredited to her.

Truss’s campaign was to present herself as the reincarnation of Margaret Thatcher to the point of even dressing like her while resurrecting her program of tax cuts, reduced public sector spending, and banning strikes. Presenting herself as a “plain speaking Yorkshire woman,” another lie, but always a hit with the Tory faithful (but some interpret this as “an ill-informed bigot with a Northern accent”) and so the natural heir to Johnson. In reality a “tin pot” Thatcher. “History often repeats itself; the first time as a tragedy, and the second time as a farce.” —Marx.

It emerges that Truss is really “continuity Johnson,” an unprincipled, hypocrite, liar, and narcissist. She swam with the steam through all the machinations of his regime, is herself mired in sleaze and has broken the Ministerial Code of conduct on at least two occasions. This code which was designed to define the behavior of government ministers including the Prime Minister has been ignored regularly by Johnson and his cabinet members without sanction or redress so has been revealed to be ineffectual window-dressing.

Like Johnson, Truss has no knowledge or interest in the history and significance of nationalism in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and will disregard their wishes as the interests of English nationalism always come first. She too has threatened to “tear up” the Northern Ireland protocol that Johnson had negotiated with the European Union (EU) which apart from breaching international law could result in the emergence of sectarian conflict and armed violence in the province.

Truss inherits an abysmal mess in every government department from her predecessor. There is crisis in every sector of public service from the NHS (National Health Service), education, railways, to prisons, the water supply and sewage removal. Inflation is over ten percent. The interest was rate raised to 1.75 percent while the economy is heading for stagflation. Energy bills are expected to reach 7000 ($8058.57) per year in 2023. The oil, gas and electricity companies are amassing astronomical profits paying CEOs outrageous salaries and shareholders large dividends. Millions of households will be forced to choose between eating and heating in the coming winter. In the midst of this Truss has a chosen a cabinet of failed and incompetent Johnsonites and given them senior ministerial responsibilities.

Throughout the hustings neither Truss nor Sunak had anything to say about the severe crisis affecting tens-of-millions in the country now. A heatwave following a mild winter meant that the reservoirs were running low, and a drought declared. There were wildfires in the countryside overwhelming the fire services. The publicly financed private water companies were releasing billions of gallons raw sewage into the rivers and the sea while failing to stem the loss of billions of gallons of clean water daily from unrepaired leaks, yet still paying their executives seven-figure salaries and bonuses. Fuel prices reached their highest ever—2 for a liter of petrol is equal to $9.09 a gallon—while Shell and BP and gas company Centrica posted half-yearly profits in the billions. The knock-on effect is forcing many working people who rely on their cars into poverty or unemployment. Having no real solutions to the problems of the real world as time progressed, their exchanges became more bitter and personalized with Truss calling the millionaire Sunak “a socialist” which to a Tory is worse than being called “a cunt.” We should never forget that at root it is class war.

There is a price capping system in place overseen by Ofgem (The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets) but it is toothless in face of the world market and the energy companies so it is limited to imposing ceilings on consumer prices that will be close to 7000 in January 2023. The famous British Fish and Chip shop is now on the verge of extinction as the traders cannot afford to keep prices affordable to their mainly working-class customers while the cost of the fish, transport, and the oil to cook with are rocketing.

No redeeming qualities

Truss’s answer to the economic crisis is tax cuts for the rich and more financial deregulation (London’s financial markets are already known as the “laundromat”) while threatening to make strikes illegal.

The elevation of a person such as Truss with no ability, knowledge, compassion, or any redeeming qualities to the highest office in the British parliamentary system is a reflection of the death agony of English imperialism and its institutions including the Tory party. From a population of 60 million, Truss, a vacuous non-entity with an inflated ego, has weaseled her way through the political system to the office of Prime Minister. Johnson, now Truss, are the living demonstration of the cesspit that the British Parliamentary democracy has become.

Recent events have shown that the British parliamentary system has decayed beyond redemption. A corrupt demagog such as Johnson has been able to rule unchecked, suspended parliament after lying to the queen while overriding any limitations on his power or safeguards against such tyranny. At a time when hundreds of people around the country were being criminalized for breaches of COVID rules made by Johnson he and his entourage in 10 Downing Street partied while the Metropolitan police ignored them. Not so those protesting the rape and murder of a young woman, Sarah Everard, by an off-duty cop. The Metropolitan Police are effectively the “armed wing of the Tory party.”

Workers in virtually every sector are now engaged in or are planning strike action. Bus and rail drivers, refuse collectors, Royal Mail workers, dockers, doctors and other NHS staff, telecoms technicians even barristers at law, with other actions, will be taking strike votes in the months ahead. Thousands more workers are now joining unions daily. Calls for a general strike have been made including by a Labour MP.

The British parliamentary system serves no use for working people anymore. One-hundred-and-fifty years of reforms and modest improvements in living standards have been eroded in a matter of a few decades in part because of the betrayal by the Labour Party and the gutting of the trades union movement that began under Thatcher. The time has come to overthrow it and replace it by a socialist government that will legislate and carry out a program that will be in the interest of the working class and the farmers, the real producers of wealth and all those impoverished by the current capitalist system.

We are being used again to bear the cost of repairing the capitalist system that will only take back every improvement we achieve when the circumstances allow. What we need is a socialist revolution now that will put political power in the hands of the working class and will be used to meet the needs and interests of all of humanity. Above all to take the immediate drastic action that is necessary to avoid the global environmental catastrophe that capitalism is taking us in to.

“Rise like Lions after slumber

In unvanquishable number—

Shake your chains to earth like dew

Which in sleep had fallen on you—

Ye are many—they are few.”

—Percy Bysshe Shelly

1 The inferred responsibility of privileged people to act with generosity and nobility toward those less privileged.

2 The chancellor of the Exchequer, often abbreviated to chancellor, is a senior minister of the Crown within the Government of the United Kingdom.

3 The Bayeux Tapestry is an embroidered cloth nearly 70 meters long and 50 centimeters tall that depicts the events leading up to the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, led by William, Duke of Normandy challenging Harold II, King of England, and culminating in the Battle of Hastings.

The Battle of Hastings was fought on October 14, 1066, between the Norman-French army of William, the Duke of Normandy, and an English army under the Anglo-Saxon King Harold Godwinson, beginning the Norman Conquest of England.