Liz Truss | The Tory Corbyn

Unless I am very much mistaken Liz Truss will become Prime Minister next week.   You won’t be surprised to know that I fear she will be a disaster, and may not even last all the way to the next General Election. The runner up, Rishi Sunak gets a bye into the Semi-Finals of Masterchef, or possibly the Europa Conference League.

Under Britains Parliamentary traditions you vote for a local candidate, normally from a national party, and the party with the most seats gets to pick their Party Leader to be PM.   A party leader either has a mandate from a General Election, or because they are the pick of their parliamentary party.

Truss has neither – she didn’t win a mandate in a General Election, nor does she command the support of the majority of her Parliamentary Party – only a 3rd backed her.

The last time a Party Leader was picked without the support of their Parliamentary Party was Jeremy Corbyn.   As you know as I was anti-Corbyn right from the start but there was no doubt that he was very popular with a lot of party members, and with left wing activists in general.    Their support for him was almost messianic.   

This was because Corbyn spoke the language of party activists, he used the same slogans, had the same ideological obsessions, and rode the same hobby horses.   They saw him as honest and authentic because he sounded just like them.   This caused huge problems when it came to communicating with wider voters – the slogans and causes that made him popular with activists were off putting to normal voters.   

Corbyn was used to addressing meetings of like minded people who listened to him in rapt agreement – when he was faced with even moderately difficult questioning he flapped – rolling his eyes and snapping at the interviewer.    If the interviewer was non-white or female somehow it was even worse.

The end was as awful as it was inevitable – dozens of seats which had been Labour for generations flipped to the Tories as the party struggled to communicate with ordinary working class voters who found it snobby, pompous and indifferent to their lived experiences.   Corbyn encouraged activists to speak out and the more they spoke out the more voters liked the Tory Party

Truss shares all of these qualities.   She is the overwhelming choice of party activists and members because she sounds like them.  She shares their obsessions and pet grievances, their neuroses and insecurities.    She empowers them to speak out and feel that their views are validated.   

The problem is that the typical Tory activist is just as repellent to voters as the wacky Corbyn fans were.   Voters will not warm to Truss just as they didn’t warm to Corbyn the more they see of her the less they will find to like. Both sets of activists Labour and Tory share the suspicion that despite all their hard work the party leadership wants to keep them hidden away like mad aunties in the attic. They are right in that suspicion. Placing them and their obsessions centre stage is a disaster. Red Wall voters who backed Boris and Brexit will be horrified to discover that the new Tory leader believes that Brexit means finishing what Thatcher started – some may cling on to the Tories rather than lose face, but many will feel badly betrayed.

She may have slightly more self awareness than Corbyn in that she has done all she can to avoid hard hitting interviews knowing that she will come over just as swivel eyed and weird as he did.

Tory MPs may not have chose Liz, but they can get rid of her, and her party is just as schismatic as Labour was, maybe more so – Johnson presided over a coalition of Traditional Conservatives, ERG/UKIP white nationalists, and pompous culture warriors.  They will be just as keen to move Liz on as Labour MPs were with Corbyn.   Labour MPs failed because there wasn’t a serious candidate with support among MPs and the members who could turn things round. The Tories have a prince in exile waiting to return to lead the faithful.   Johnson will undermine Truss, allow her to flounder during the worst crisis in living memory, and plot his return. Todays Times paints Boris as an unlikely Disraeli, a lovable rogue poised to return to lead the party againl

Personally I don’t think it matters much who leads the Conservatives into the next election.    Sometimes in politics there are turning points, discontinuities which change how voters see politics. 

Suez, Winter of Discontent, Black Wednesday, Credit Crunch.  Moments which even people who don’t care much about politics take notice of.   

I think we passed such a paint during Partygate, and there is little that the Conservatives can do to change their destiny.   They have already mismanaged the coming winter crisis, the NHS is on it’s knees, and they are already 17 points behind before the autumn leaves start to fall.   Last year I argued that Labour had a new ceiling of about 36% of the vote, and it would struggle to get above that. Turns out I was wrong. Labour’s new ceiling is probably around 40% and the Tories around 34%

I don’t for one minute think that the next General Election will be as one sided as the poll above suggests.

But equally I can’t see any way back for them from here.

4 thoughts on “Liz Truss | The Tory Corbyn

  1. I’ll just have to hang on to your prediction. It’s the only thing that will keep my sanity through the next 12 months.

  2. I did wonder if she is a Judas Goat candidate, but I thought Johnson was the same (to take the responsibility for the costs of Brexit).

    I’m pretty sure that even if not intentional, the best strategy for the Conservative party on the next GE would be standing a candidate not associated with the energy crisis – and I suspect Johnson has managed to escape that, even though he shouldn’t.

    I was also thinking about the difference between Johnson and Blair; Labour activists, particularly Corbynites, will still bring up Blair’s lies over Iraq. It was party activists who turned on him, rather than the voters – even if Labour steadily shed votes through his 3 terms.

    With Johnson, it’s the opposite – the party membership are in denial about how much Partygate cut through with ordinary people who had spent 18 months following restrictions to save others.

    His lies didn’t matter when he could deliver on the big lie – but there isn’t another Brexit scale existential issue out there. (Apart from Covid and the energy crisis – where their political instincts are opposite to public).

    As the real world issues mount up, their obsession with drag storytime looks more and more irrelevant – especially in a society where panto is traditional Christmas entertainment, and drag comedians have been prime time working class entertainment.

    The Red Wall and Bible Belt are culturally very different places

    1. His lies didn’t matter when he could deliver on the big lie – but there isn’t another Brexit scale existential issue out there. (Apart from Covid and the energy crisis – where their political instincts are opposite to public).

      Brexit was the big lie – the moment a group of voters chose a happy fantasy over a more complex reality. Johnsons rise to power and his disastrous period as PM are a continuation of that fantasy. It is clear that the Tory Party are not yet prepared to confront that lie and return to reality. The big question is whether voters are prepared to continue to share that fantasy with them as bills soar and the economy tanks.

      As the real world issues mount up, their obsession with drag storytime looks more and more irrelevant – especially in a society where panto is traditional Christmas entertainment, and drag comedians have been prime time working class entertainment.

      I don’t think culture wars issue matter as much to voters as to Tory party members, and a hardcore of permanently outraged old reactionaries

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