BY JON ALEXANDER
Could Liz Truss be our next Prime Minister?
With Boris Johnson experiencing a rapid fall in popularity and a recent sizeable backbench rebellion, attentions have been diverted to who could be his successor.
Step forward one Liz Truss, current Foreign Secretary and former Queen of the trade deals, a woman who has managed the unthinkable for politicians of late. She has just got on with the job and actually achieved what seems quite a rare feat – effectiveness. Make no mistake, this is a huge accomplishment in an era when politicians fail at very basic tasks such as eating bacon sandwiches, remembering to take the kids with you when you leave a pub, and not appearing on a TV station run by a regime that hangs gay men. Liz is winning and winning big. Does she have what it takes to go all the way?
The Left will mock Truss’ blatant attempts to push her public image and dismiss it as a cheap tactic, but can any of the others really say they haven’t tried the same?
We were all in stitches at the Lib Dems’ attempts to mock Boris Johnson when he drove through blocks to get his message across, Labour have tried so badly to appear as a “government in waiting” but the truth is, they’re only doing well in the polls because Boris is still in place. As proven before, installing a new Conservative leader before an election can have a devastating effect on Labour at the polls. Liz, on the other hand, has managed to do her job and mount a charm offensive that Angela Rayner or Jess Phillips could never manage. She looks like a natural leader, her actions following Lord Frost’s departure over Article 16 may bring her a whole new fanbase.
Prominent Remainers have desperately tried to paint her as changing her stance depending on whatever her career needs her to do, but all they have are speeches from a younger woman still finding her way in life, via a brief stint in the Lib Dems, and a woman who voted remain but respects the vote and wants to see the country succeed, no matter what. Had her views been the other way round, the Left would naturally have applauded that and treated her much the same as they did Anna Soubry, until she spectacularly failed at the 2019 general election.
If you listen to the official line, the Tories are just “focused on the current challenges”, but behind the scenes, some are on manoeuvres – the quiet phone calls, the discrete fundraisers, the strategic planning are all underway. Liz has already started her PR campaign, similar to her last one, pant suits deployed!
The excitement build-up and promise of a vigorous leadership campaign will temporarily distract from their immediate issues, but, the Tories have a bigger problem looming on the horizon; none of their leaders currently seem capable of lasting longer than eighteen months before burning out. OK – Boris has had to put up with delivering Brexit and a pandemic.
Despite losing her election in 2017, Theresa May still battled on, determined to reverse her fortunes and she carried on as if she’d won a stomping majority for another nine months before it became apparent she was on her way out. Boris has managed a similar time frame. Both after two years looked like Joe Root this morning – gone.
I am torn as to whether a change in leadership every three years could actually reinvigorate the party and allow them to ditch any negativity frequently, but there is a risk of falling into the Australian farce where they spent a decade constantly changing leaders and becoming a constant source of humiliation for the country.
For the good of the country, the party needs to offer stable and consistent leadership with a long-term vision. The next leader needs to avoid the trap so many Conservative leaders the world over fall into – they need to focus on the job at hand, maintain their core voters’ support and stop pandering to people that would happily have them dead. It’s not that difficult. Truss could clean up if elected.
Tory loyalists are already out in force to defend the Dear Leader, but even they know that deep down Boris is on the ropes… whatever he had in July 2019, he’s lost it, he won’t get it back. Once you’ve gone down that far in even the core voters’ estimations you cannot claw your way back. It’s now just a managed decline.
As with May in 2018/2019, we will watch a flurry of new proposals and lots of spending to desperately try to secure a legacy but he’s done. The party won’t act until it starts losing local elections and gets a harsh reception from local Federations, but it’ll happen.
Personally I don’t believe Truss will be our next PM, but stranger things have happened, so stayed tuned…
Jon Alexander is one of the founders of Country Squire Magazine.