You’ve got to hand it to Liz Truss. Few politicians do shamelessness quite like her. Or turn lack of self-awareness into an art form. Imagine being everyone’s odds on favourite for the title of worst prime minister of all time. Worse even that David Cameron, Theresa May, Boris Johnson or Rishi Sunak. That would be enough to send most normal, sensate beings crawling under a stone for eternity.
But not our Liz. Almost exactly a year after her mini-budget crashed the economy, adding billions to the national debt and thousands to people’s mortgages, she’s back. And the prime minister who only lasted 49 days in the job before being humiliatingly forced to resign by her own party – hold that thought: too useless even for the Tories – wants us to know that she regrets nothing. She isn’t sorry for anything. She would do it all again in a heartbeat. Narcissism has been a trait of many recent prime ministers, but this is upping the delusional ante.
Still, there’s one thing no one can take away from her. She has at least advanced the cause of women in politics. Sort of. Not so long ago, women had to be twice as good as men to succeed to the top jobs in government. Truss has shattered that particular glass ceiling. She is living proof that a woman can now be every bit as useless as a man and still become prime minister. What a legacy. Admittedly May had nudged us in that direction, but Truss is an icon of incoherence. Radon – “she’s a gas, but she’s inert” – Liz is a beacon for the brainless everywhere. Oxford should be rethinking its PPE course as we speak.
The relaunch took place at the offices of the Institute for Government in central London. Not generally known as a venue for comedy gigs but even a thinktank has to diversify these days. After a brief introduction from the IfG’s Hannah White, Radon Liz got started. Within seconds several people in the audience were beginning to nod off. Despite the excitement at not having heard from her in a year. It’s a rare talent to have a monotone delivery that can make Mogadon redundant. Maybe it’s the only way she can distance herself from the horrors of her own failure. What we have missed.
Why was she here, she asked. To be fair, something we were all asking ourselves. There hasn’t exactly been a national clamour for her return. The country is still recovering from PTSD. She definitely wasn’t keen to be back in Downing Street, she added. Hmm. Though she was keen to dispense her wisdom and give the country a second chance. Because what she had come to realise was that she had been right about absolutely everything all along. She alone understood how to grow the economy.
It went like this. Our debt levels were the highest they had ever been. And she should know because she had added to them to the tune of £45bn during her seven weeks in office. And 72% of people agreed the UK was now poorer than it had been. Again, she should know. Because few people had done more to bankrupt the country. But this was unfair, she insisted. Because her tax cuts had only ever been fiscal restraint in disguise. If only people had given her a chance, the country would now be well on the road to recovery.
That was just the beginning of the Truss fantasy. Because now she was asking us to believe that the entire political and economic establishment had been kidnapped by a socialist cabal sometime in the last 30 years and the UK had effectively been run by Moscow station for decades. The Office for Budget Responsibility and the Treasury? Communist sleeper cells dedicated to bringing down free market capitalism.
Even the Tory party had been taken over by the Reds who all went to the same London dinner parties and didn’t invite her. And the top double agent was none less than Rishi who had been recruited while at that well-known spy hotbed of Goldman Sachs. Radon Liz seemed to have forgotten she had been a Tory minister for most of the past 13 years and could have raised the alert then.
It all became increasingly deranged. She hadn’t consulted the OBR before the mini-budget as she knew they would give her the wrong information. Only she really understood the reality. She could have been a conspiracy theorist with her own YouTube channel. If she had made a mistake, which she hadn’t, then it was that she had tried to rush things through too quickly. But there had been no time to lose. The UK was on the brink of revolution. Not that she had ever wanted to remove Johnson. That had been the last thing on her mind. She had loved him even though he too was a socialist. He had been so right but so wrong. There had been no hurry after all. The way to capitalist nirvana was to get rid of Sunak, frack the hell out of the UK, forget net zero, slash benefits and cut taxes.
Weirdly there were a handful of believers in the crowd. Principally Nigel Farage and the increasingly absurd Lord Frost, along with some fanboys who tutted loudly whenever the media asked any challenging questions. Like none of this makes any sense and why can’t you just say sorry. Or say nothing. Ah, said Radon Liz. “I’m writing a book which will be out in April.” Then everything would be clear. Aagh. Not another book. We’ve only just recovered from Theresa’s. Truly, they spoil us.
But Truss was in no mood to back down. The Blob was everywhere and it had been out to get her. Hers was the path of righteousness. She would not be denied. Blessed was Trussonomics. We’d all come to regret not taking her more seriously. She couldn’t possibly have predicted the pensions crisis because she didn’t know anything about them. Again and again, she wasn’t sorry. Interest rates would have gone up anyway. So tough.
Nor was she going away. Even though that’s precisely what most Tories want her to do. To shut up and stop embarrassing herself and them. Reminding them that they can’t be trusted with the economy after all. Would she be going to the Tory party conference? Hell, yes. Personally I can’t wait. Radon Liz. The gift that keeps on giving.