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Opinion

Players Gonna Play

16 Oct 2022 4 minute read
Former Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, and Prime Minister Liz Truss at the Tory Party conference. Photo Stefan Rousseau PA Images

Ben Wildsmith

If you’ve ever played chess, you’ll be familiar with the feeling that accompanies the realisation that you are definitely going to lose.

Scouring the board for non-existent escape routes, the best you can do is delay the inevitable by pointlessly sacrificing a bishop and moving a pawn forward.

If only you hadn’t lost your queen so early in the game.

As your humiliation unfolds, you rather wish you’d opted to play something more suited to your abilities, Ker Plunk! perhaps.

It’s fair to say, I think, that amongst Vladimir Putin’s more vocal critics, he probably has more respect for the strategic abilities of Garry Kasparov than those of Grandmaster Truss. For whilst Gazza the Brain famously lost humanity’s mastery of chess to a computer, he was, at least, aware of his opponent.

Liz Truss appears to be playing against herself and losing from both sides.

Ungovernable rancour

Amidst the hot takes and viral memes that have cheered the nation during the events of this week, we seem to be wilfully distracted from the terrifying context in which our ruling class is disgracing itself.

Imagine being a democracy campaigner in China and watching the Westminster pantomime. Your government tells its people that liberal democracy can only guarantee chaos and the seizure of power by an economic elite. The UK’s slide into ungovernable rancour and poverty serves as the perfect example of what they mean.

If you visit the Public Gallery at the House of Commons, you are handed a leaflet explaining that the process you are witnessing is the gold standard of government by the people.

Now, with that concept under genuine global threat, our system has degraded to the point of such grotesque deformity that no nation on earth would consider adopting it.

Exploitation

In a capitalist society, the prime functions of government are to provide investors with the conditions in which they can make a profit, whilst protecting the population from exploitation.

We are now so far beyond the looking glass that the markets have to protect us from the government as it is in danger of leaving us unfit for exploitation.

Whitehall gossip has it that Truss fired Kwarteng because he wanted to fully reverse the planned cut in Capital Gains Tax whilst she favoured a partial adjustment to the policy.

Once it became clear that Sterling would plummet unless she did as he advised, he was fired anyway on the basis that someone had to carry the can.

When Truss announced the reversal, the pound fell again during the press conference purely, as a reaction to her nakedly incompetent presentation.

This, remember, is a prime minister with no national mandate whatsoever, and who refuses to engage with the elected heads of the devolved governments. If you think you can hear something sinister in the night, that will be the distant echo of Xi Jinping laughing.

Gilt traders

So, what now? Jeremy Hunt is the de facto prime minister and will announce a budget on Halloween (more hilarious memes) in which he’ll attempt to plug the remaining £40 billion hole in public finances with tax rises and cuts to public services.

As with Kwarteng’s fiscal event of the season, none of these measures will ever have been before the electorate and will bear no relation to the manifesto upon which Boris Johnson won an election and subsequently ignored.

Regrettably, the 2019 Red Wall Tory voters will find they are not being levelled up after all. If you would like to contribute to the ‘Send a Class Traitor a Tiny Violin’ fundraiser this Christmas, then have a word with yourself.

We have seen the parameters within which our democracy is allowed to work this week.

The markets have reversed government policy with a few keystrokes. That nobody is outraged about this shows how far from accountability the system allows our leaders to stray. Without a mandate, they are no more our representatives than the gilt traders who halted their folly on Friday.

A general election may change the colour of the pieces, but unless the game is played by people who respect the rules it will be checkmate for liberal democracy.


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Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

Let’s face it. If indeed the English Conservatives were intelligent enough to play chess they’d opt for an all white board & pieces whilst preferring to deport all the black to Rwanda. And who will pick up the tab for this immoral move! Yes, it’s us the Welsh taxpayer who will receive the cheque mate.

#YesCymru 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿✊. #Ymlaen 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿✊

Jim
Jim
1 month ago

What the markets are telling Truss is your projections and optimism for growth are “pie in the sky” and we would prefer to preserve the value of what we have and only expand it within the current game of “beggar-thy-neighbour”.

Ben missed out the other “prime function of government”….to protect the investors and holders of capital from themselves, although, you might include them as part of the population ?

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