Pop goes the weasel
I’ve missed Liz Truss. Alone amongst mortgage-holders, my life was gloriously simple for the 45 days she led the UK over a cliff, seeing off the late Queen as she went.
Her jarring non-sequiturs, alarming facial expressions, and utter lack of self-awareness were so easy to satirise that I could just describe what she did, and it was job done.
Like many comic greats, though, she needed her sidekick to really shine, so this week’s news that Krazy Kwasi Kwarteng was hanging up his mortgage-hiking boots at the next election was a blow for those who assumed he’d feature in Liz’s big comeback.
It turned out that the unhinged toff role had been handed to Jacob Rees-Mogg, who lacks Kwarteng’s easy charm but makes up for it with extra batshit.
Liz, you see, has identified what’s standing between the Tories and electoral success: they need to be more popular. Launching her new ‘Popular Conservatism’ group, the former cheese-marketeer sought to draw a subtle distinction with Rishi Sunak’s trademark ‘Unpopular Conservatism’.
The political equivalent of supermarket denim, Lee Anderson, was on hand to dispel any fears that this new project might represent a resurgence of the intellectual right. Calling for coal mines to be reopened, and green levies to become voluntary on consumers’ bills, Anderson teed up Truss’s assertion that Sunak had appeased ‘extremists’ such as environmentalists, and ‘those in favour of supporting LGBT people or groups of ethnic minorities’.
Rees-Mogg, meanwhile, sought to posit himself in opposition to the ruling elite.
‘The age of Davos Man is over,’ opined the Eton-educated multimillionaire and top hat enthusiast. So, I feel we can rest assured that this particular iteration of Fisher-Price fascism is unlikely to win the nation’s hearts in the immediate future. The proven incompetence and personal toxicity of the buffoons at this event will see to that.
There’s something here, though, and it isn’t going away.
Liz Truss had no popular mandate as Prime Minister, and her plans found favour with very few. Because of this, the manner of her defenestration has been largely ignored in favour of abject relief that it happened one way or another.
Ponder this, though. However flimsy her bona fides to hold the office, she was removed from power by the bond market with an alacrity that suggests a formal veto. In business terms, the UK is in so parlous a state that its creditors have been appointed to the board.
Now, that really is the work of an unelected elite and as Truss and her merry band of crackpots level that accusation at everyone from the National Trust to the courts, to the BBC, it’s odd that no opposition figures are pointing it out.
Also in attendance, in his role as a GB News presenter, was Nigel Farage. He’s been uncharacteristically quiet since boosting his visibility on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here last year, and that should make you nervous.
As these hapless clowns failed to harness the impotent rage of the nation to their advantage, Nige smiled on, in the knowledge that he possesses more political instinct in the foam of his pint than anything they can muster.
The years ahead are going to be hard, as the UK is hemmed in by debt and poor productivity. As Truss found out, governmental options are extremely narrow and unlikely to widen in the short term.
So, when Keir Starmer is three years into explaining why he can do the thick end of nothing about our public services because the markets will turn off the money tap if he tries, the stage will be set for a populist who knows what he’s doing.
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