It’s hard to think of any time in the politics of our country when we’ve had a Prime Minister who is so clueless. Sacking your “best friend” and Chancellor after a few weeks in office is beyond careless. But Prime Minister Truss had to sit next to her new Chancellor and watch him shred nearly every policy she had put forward.
The exception was removing the cap on Bankers’ bonuses. Not many of us see Bankers begging on the streets of Rochdale or even in London’s Square Mile so not an obvious choice for support when the contrast is with people on fixed pensions or low incomes. Even energy support will last only six months with nothing promised afterwards. We can and should pick up Labour’s plan for a windfall tax on the windfall and unearned profits of the energy giants. But perhaps Ms Truss and Chancellor Hunt think BP, Shell, British Gas and friends are deserving cases just like the Bankers.
What was also beyond anything I’ve ever witnessed over my years in Parliament, was Prime Minister Truss, who had been offered the chance to defend her decisions in the House of Commons, first send on a junior colleague to answer for her and then sat silent as her new Chancellor ripped her plans apart (and ironically his own promises when he also stood to be PM).
Compare this. I was never a fan of Margaret Thatcher but I was in Parliament to witness her under attack during the Westland scandal and again when her Conservative colleagues kicked her out. She came out fighting and even though I didn’t agree with a word she said, I respected her guts and commitment. I couldn’t see any guts or commitment from our new Prime Minister as she hid away and let others do their best to find excuses.
But our country is in a mess as long as we have this broken-backed team in office. They have no mandate and no authority. But worse than that they really have no idea how to clear up this Downing St made mess. We don’t need Chancellor Hunt’s austerity. Our industry and public services have not recovered from the last one. People reading this may not agree with me or Keir Starmer or Lib-Dem leader Ed Davey but the way to test this out is to have a general election and give a new government the mandate to give our country the new start it now needs.
This article was originally published in the Rochdale Observer on 22 October 2022.