Eugh! Lib Dems react to Sunak v Truss debate

The press release from the Lib Dem Press Office just after the BBC debate between Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak last night was very short.

Lib Dems respond to BBC Tory leadership debate

Responding to this evening’s BBC Tory leadership debate, a Liberal Democrat spokesperson said: 

“Eurgh.”

ENDS

While it lacked in words, it summed up the feelings of much of the country, although I still think it was a bit generous.  Neither the participants nor the BBC covered themselves in glory.

Other Lib Dem reaction included:

You wouldn’t expect there to be much for liberals to be pleased about in a Conservative leadership debate, particularly as the participants are pandering to an increasingly right wing membership that would not be out of place in the Republican Party of Donald Trump. Ultra-nationalist, small state, minority bashing, this is what’s left after all the decent, one-nation types left in disgust in 2019.

Last night’s debate was remarkable for what it didn’t discuss. Moderator Sophie Raworth allowed 10 minutes of a 60 minute programme on Liz Truss’s earrings, Rishi Sunak’s expensive suits and Boris Johnson but not one second on the housing crisis, ambulance waiting times and the report yesterday about the staffing emergency in the NHS. Nor was there much on the most urgent issue facing the planet – climate change.

Rishi Sunak had a lot of ground to make up. Every poll of Conservative members has him losing badly to Liz Truss. Surely if you are trying to portray yourself as the calm voice of reason, you don’t  interrupt your opponent with aggression every time she opens her mouth. Surely his campaign team would have told him that it is never a good look for a man to do that to a woman. He looked like the posh boy that didn’t get his own way. Liz Truss, on the other hand, no doubt used to this sort of carry on, held her own and got her points, unsavoury as they were, across.

The most worrying thing about Conservatives is that they tend to believe that if you work hard, all the rewards of life will come your way. Rishi Sunak, multi-millionaire alumni of Winchester, clearly believes his privilege is all down to his family’s hard work. The unwritten sub text is that if you don’t succeed it’s your fault. Conservatives don’t acknowledge or accept the structural inequalities that don’t allow millions of low-paid workers to realise their dreams.

On September 5th, one of this gruesome twosome is going to be our Prime Minister. Conservatives have a reputation, mostly overblown to be honest, for being decent on the economy and national security. Both Truss and Sunak have trashed each other on each of these issues. Truss says Sunak will lead us into recession, Sunak says Truss’s economic plans are dangerous. Each accuse the other of being soft on Russia and China. These are serious issues. How either of them could even be in the parliamentary party under the other as PM is beyond me.

A divisive leadership campaign casts a long shadow. Our 2015 contest between Norman Lamb and Tim Farron was a Teddy Bear’s Picnic in comparison and the candidates behaved themselves and didn’t attack each other in public. However the party was wracked by grief and shock after a horrendous election and this came out in  a lot of bad feeling amongst supporters of each of them. It took a while to get past that. There wasn’t a huge amount of actual disagreement on policy, though. The Tories are unlikely to get through their contest, with diametrically opposed visions, without serious long term divisions.

I was amused that the debate was on at the same time as Love Island. I still reckon Paige, Ekin-Su, Gemma and Indiyah would do a much better job of running the country than either of the Tory pair.

 

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

Read more by or more about , , or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.
Advert

39 Comments

  • George Thomas 26th Jul '22 - 8:27am

    From a LD’s perspective, there is some good news in that Truss/Sunak and Kier Starmer were so poor on the same day. But from someone living in the UK’s perspective, it’s really not good that we have to hope that our next prime minister is deceiving their party in order to get top job, that having nothing to say on big issues is deceit and flirting with such right-wing issues will be dropped immediately, because they will then be competing with someone who already has deceived their party to get top job and has nothing to say on biggest issues.

  • John Bicknell 26th Jul '22 - 8:41am

    Sunak was certainly more slick and professional, but his constant aggressive hectoring of Truss (better moderation from Sophie Raworth was needed), made him look like a bully.
    Truss, for her part, was wooden in her presentation, and laboured to respond to Sunak’s criticisms. It would be difficult for Sunak to present himself as the ‘fresh start’ or ‘candidate for change’, given his central role in Johnson’s administration, whilst Truss has all the flat-footedness and lack of charisma of Theresa May, but with a more right wing agenda.

  • Peter Davies 26th Jul '22 - 8:47am

    Sunak came over as having more idea what he was talking about than Truss so that should help her among Tory members. He did come over as smug and patronising so that should help him a bit.

  • George Thomas is, of course, entitled to his opinion, but he makes a great mistake by underestimating (and putting into the same bracket as the Tory pair) an essentially decent and principled man with whom the Liberal Democrats may have to do business with.

  • Brad Barrows 26th Jul '22 - 9:47am

    I’m sure Bob Hope’s words apply here: are those Tory members with a vote going to be choosing between the lesser of two evils or the evil of two lessers?

  • Jason Connor 26th Jul '22 - 11:15am

    I don’t think it looks good for any candidate to keep interrupting another whatever their gender or gender identity. In this case Mr Sunak did come across as quite aggressive and did not give Ms Truss the chance to finish her point. But from the hustings I’ve watched so far, I also find Ms Truss’ finger wagging quite aggressive so it cuts both ways. Many low paid workers do realise their dreams but they need more help, probably financial, to do this. The increasing number of university students and graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds does point towards this and there has been a sharp increase this year. We just need to see this reflected in mainly upper middle class professions like lawyers, accountants, doctors etc. I heard the leadership contest between Ed Davey and Layla Moran was not always that amicable either.

  • Jenny Barnes 26th Jul '22 - 11:34am

    It’s a battle between what you might call reality based toryism and populist wish fulfilment, of which Brexit is a major part.

  • @ Martin Quite right. There is a veritable vacuum on Brexit.

    There is also a need to reach out and understand the issues of inequality and poverty throughout the UK – not just in one mostly comfortable corner of England.

  • Is it actually helpful to be dismissive of Keir Starmer, like George Thomas’ comment ?
    Frustrated as I am with Keir’s weaknesses, surely we want to get rid of this government and we cannot do that on our own. Keir has at long last come up with a statement that when fleshed out could make a big contribution to our economy i.e. the need for a proper industrial strategy for growth that is fair to everyone, especially those on below average incomes. Vince Cable when in government tried to start such a strategy but was hampered by the lack of support from the Conservatives.

  • The last poll of Con members I saw put Johnson in the lead with the 2 official candidates roughly equal in 2nd place.
    Boris has been rowing back from his “Resignation” & lots of the Grassroots don’t seem to accept he’s gone.
    This is bad for The Country in the short-term but good on a longer view. Lots of us thought that Brexit would destroy the Tories & it still might.

  • Matt (Bristol) 26th Jul '22 - 11:58am

    The problem all 6 English parties have (the Lib Dems, Starmerite Labour, Corbynite Labour, Radical Post-Brexit Toryism, Cautious Post-Brexit Toryism, and the dying ghost of Pre-Brexit Toryism) is that none of them have the mix of moderate social conservatism and pre-Cameron-Austerity-era economic centrism that probably represents the centre-ground in terms of the (still at this point demographically biased towards the over-60s) electorate.

    This results in them all flailing around trying to find symbolic issues that vicariously imply their centrism (in the electorate’s terms) or can be blamed for the perceived lack of stability and continuity in life-as-lived over the past 20 years.

  • Surely the next election is wide open, Brexit having failed on immigration, for joining the single market and restoring freedom of movement (the agreement should be for a minimum of 20 years). If the EU will allow us back in.

    There is no money for welfare or public sector salary increases (even Keir sort of agrees), the govn having gone through 400 billion to extend the lives of 200,000 people over the age of 70 by six to 24 months. But if you add up welfare, state pensions, tax allowances and relief, you end up with about £5000 per person (half that for kids, twice for pensioners) to fund UBI (with a five to ten year residence test to avoid mass migration and balance out the fairness of things for long term residents).

    At least come up with some policies that is not more of the same nonsense.

  • @ Frank W …. “restoring freedom of movement”.

    Not much of that at Dover last weekend….. or at many airports for that matter. Brexit has failed, is seen to have failed. and what’s stopping the Lib Dem Leadership picking this up and running with it.

    As for the notion that 160,000 self chosen personally self selected right wing members of the Tory Party should choose the next Prime Minister of the so called United Kingdom from a couple of squabbling second raters …… I want a General Election now asap to clear the current bunch of ineffectives out. End of.

  • @ Frank W. “the govn having gone through 400 billion to extend the lives of 200,000 people over the age of 70 by six to 24 months”.

    Not sure what a ‘govn’ is, but astonished at the insensitivity and illiberalism of that remark. You’ll get old one day young Frank and make no mistake about it, the bell one day will toll for you.

  • Chris Perry 26th Jul '22 - 3:04pm

    Both Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak claim they intend to be truthful with the public and rebuild trust in politicians. Yet during Monday night’s debate both said the queues at Dover were not due to Brexit. Surely the French would not need additional staff at customs were it not for BREXIT?

    Liz Truss gave Boris Johnson 7 out of 10 for achievement whilst Rishi gave him 10 out of 10: for ending the BREXIT deadlock, delivering a huge Tory majority and his handling of the pandemic. Boris Johnson may have ended the BREXIT deadlock in Parliament but he certainly has not got BREXIT done. Liz Truss is promoting the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill which will bring Britain into dispute with both the EU and USA whilst undermining the peace process in Ireland. It was perhaps “freedom of movement” and the “Customs Union, more so than the Good Friday Agreement, which ended hostilities. Until the Irish Border is resolved BREXIT is not done.

    Boris Johnson’s other claims of success are sheer fantasy.

    During the last decade the rich have got richer and the majority poorer. This widening income inequality has resulted in 3.9m children being brought up in poverty: 2 in 3 of whom have a parent in work.

    That so few voted Lib Dem during the last election, which was fought on getting Brexit done when millions had protested and Lib Dem offered the chance to remain, and that General Elections are decided on a hand full of marginal constituencies shows just how undemocratic our democratic system is!!

    Reform is long overdue.

  • Chris Perry 26th Jul ’22 – 3:04pm:
    …during Monday night’s debate both said the queues at Dover were not due to Brexit. Surely the French would not need additional staff at customs were it not for BREXIT?

    The queues (which have since dissipated) were due to a shortage of French border staff to check passports. Since the UK was never in the Schengen passport free travel area this requirement existed prior to Brexit and has not changed. There have been similar delays in the past at the start of the school holidays. Here are a couple of reports from the same two days, but six years ago…

    ‘French border staff cause 12 hour traffic jam for 250,000 Brits’ [23rd. July 2016]:
    https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/french-border-staff-cause-12-8482042

    Holiday Brits heading abroad today stuck in 12-hour jams as just ONE French guard checked vehicles through Dover

    ‘Dover ferry port chaos forces motorists to sleep in cars and delays could last for DAYS’ [24th. July 2016]:
    https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/dover-ferry-port-chaos-forces-8482360

    Travellers spent hours at a standstill in huge queues while police helped deliver water supplies by helicopter

  • Nonconformistradical 26th Jul '22 - 4:19pm

    “but astonished at the insensitivity and illiberalism of that remark. You’ll get old one day young Frank and make no mistake about it, the bell one day will toll for you.”

    Just been looking at some ONS stats – which refer to around 154K deaths due to Covid. Around 18.7% of these appear to be under age 70.

    https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/datasets/singleyearofageandaverageageofdeathofpeoplewhosedeathwasduetoorinvolvedcovid19

    @Frank W – I agree absolutely with David Raw’s view of your comment as being insensitive and illiberal.

  • Chris Prrry 26th Jul '22 - 4:24pm

    Jef: my understanding is that it takes several times as long to process each person through customs than it did pre-Brexit.

  • Nonconformistradical 26th Jul '22 - 4:31pm

    @Jeff
    “The queues (which have since dissipated) were due to a shortage of French border staff to check passports. Since the UK was never in the Schengen passport free travel area this requirement existed prior to Brexit and has not changed. ”

    Having crossed the channel from England to France many times, initially by ferry but later on usually by Eurotunnel – I NEVER had my passport stamped until after the brexit transition period. Prior to that French border staff at Dover or Folkestone either didn’t bother to look at passports (driver could just hold them out of the car window and be waved through) or would sometimes look at the main page.

    Opening every UK passport and stamping it is going to take a lot more time per passport so hardly surprising that there is a lot more queueing at peak times.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 26th Jul '22 - 5:00pm

    I was in the Labour party for all the years of my youth. I would be again if it were like it was then, at least brave and broad.

    I would think it ok to criticise Starmer, who could reach out and form the best and widest alliance, but despite good feeling from us and most even in his party, towards pr and a link with others, rejects these.

    A week ago, nobody mentioned it here apart from me, Starmer said no way Jose to a relationship with our party after failing to get a majority!

    Now praise him….?!

  • @Jeff…“Since the UK was never in the Schengen passport free travel area this requirement existed prior to Brexit and has not changed. ”

    Utter rot, having lived in France for over 15 years I agree with Nonconformistradical, The only delays I experienced were at the other side for entry into the UK where checks were longer and ‘rules were followed to the letter’; now the EU (French) checks are following the new rules you voted for. The UK traveller seemed happy in the ignorance that ‘Patel’s ‘stopping freedom of movement’ only applied one way; it doesn’t..

    BTW, The Port of Dover asked for £33M to update the port for the inevitable delays ; they were given £33,000 (Salary of one extra guard?)… Just wait until the biometric checks are brought in as part of the new European Union entry/exit system (EES) for third party requirements. These may require people to leave their vehicles..Aaaaarrrgh!

  • @ Martin As always, Martin, I agree with the general drift of your comments. As for a ‘comfortable corner of England’, you may remember I prefaced it with the word ‘mostly’. There’s still a world of difference between St Albans and South Shields, Cheshunt and Chester-le-Street.

    You’re correct that, “without open acknowledgement of how Brexit drags down the economy”. but both Labour and Lib Dem leaderships fail to step up to the mark on this. There’s a radical vacuum in English politics….. less so north of the Border.

    As for a General Election, yes, highly unlikely before 2024. But I hope then there will be a wake up call about the need to clear out the Augean stables….. but where is there a Hercules ? I live in hope that Keir Starmer may yet surprise a few people and the Lib Dems rediscover their radical consciences on poverty/ inequality that faded in 2010 …… meanwhile the Johnson legacy/Sunak/Truss are the biggest recruiting sergeants for the SNP up here.

  • Nonconformistradical 26th Jul ’22 – 4:31pm:
    Opening every UK passport and stamping it is going to take a lot more time per passport so hardly surprising that there is a lot more queueing at peak times.

    What’s surprising is that the French authorities don’t adequately staff their border at peak times given the reputational damage to their country. It doesn’t make economic sense as it clearly deters people from visiting and spending money in France – a loss likely far greater than the cost of a few extra staff.

    expats 27th Jul ’22 – 9:48am:
    BTW, The Port of Dover asked for £33M to update the port for the inevitable delays ; they were given £33,000 (Salary of one extra guard?)

    The delays were due to an inadequate number of French border staff. As shown by the articles I cited in my first comment, this problem goes back many years and predates Brexit.

    Just wait until the biometric checks are brought in as part of the new European Union entry/exit system (EES) for third party requirements.

    Which will apply just the same to all countries that are not in the Schengen zone regardless of whether they are an EU member, like Ireland, or non-EU members, like the UK.

  • @ Jeff I refer you to Martin’s comment about ‘La La Land’ when you write, “What’s surprising is that the French authorities don’t adequately staff their border at peak times given the reputational damage to their country”.

    Have you noticed the no small matter of staffing issues at UK airports in the brave new world of post Brexit Britain, Jeff ?

    Fact is since Brexit under the May/Johnson/(Truss/Sunak ?) administrations, despite all the Brexit Bluster coming from Johnson’s self justifying narcissistic fervid imagination, Britain is rapidly becoming a failed and rather corrupt state – the new ‘Sick man of Europe’. No doubt Putin is loving it but good luck with it if you believe in it.

  • Chris Moore 27th Jul '22 - 1:12pm

    Jeff, when I go back to my country of residence, Spain, from my home country, the UK, I now get a lovely stamp in my passport crossing border control at the airport – usually Bilbao or Santander.

    So there’s a tangible benefit from Brexit. Don’t let any LD tell you it’s been a total car smash.

    I was also held at Santander airport for 20 minutes recently, whilst justifying my post-Brexit residential status in Spain. Again it was enjoyable to spend time with well-meaning officials doing their duty.

    Personally, I love red tape and pointless procedure and men in uniforms. It’s also a huge benefit to the economy.

  • David Raw 27th Jul ’22 – 12:49pm:
    Have you noticed the no small matter of staffing issues at UK airports in the brave new world of post Brexit Britain, Jeff ?

    Not Brexit. It’s caused by airports and airlines laying off staff during the pandemic in the belief that they could simply rehire them when the industry restarted, only to find that in the meantime many had found better jobs or taken early retirement. It’s a common problem.

    Are the similar, and often more serious, problems elsewhere in Europe and around the world also due to Brexit?

    ‘This Airport In Canada Is Now Ranked Worst In The World For Delays’ [July 2022]:
    https://www.traveloffpath.com/this-airport-in-canada-is-now-ranked-worst-in-the-world-for-delays/

    Frankfurt Airport in Germany came in second place, with 45.4% of its flights between May 26th and July 19th period. Paris’ Charles de Gaulle ranked third with 43.2% of its flights delayed.

    ‘Lost baggage: the post-Covid travel chaos snarling up Europe’s airports’ [July 2022]:
    https://www.irishtimes.com/ireland/2022/07/16/lost-baggage-the-post-covid-travel-chaos-snarling-up-europes-airports/

    Shortages of airport baggage handlers across the continent have resulted in vast amounts of luggage being misdirected, delayed for weeks or lost completely

    ‘Amsterdam-Schiphol airport appears to be on the verge of collapse’ [July 2022]:
    https://www.aviacionline.com/2022/07/amsterdam-schiphol-airport-appears-to-be-on-the-verge-of-collapse/

    Measures taken by Amsterdam-Schiphol Airport to deal with staff shortages have forced airlines to use smaller capacity aircraft or leave seats empty.

  • @ Jeff It’s quite simple. There wouldn’t be the need for “the French authorities to adequately staff their border at peak times” if Brexit hadn’t happened. It’s not rocket science.

  • @David Raw – Whilst Brexit has played a part in the cross-channel border controls problems, Jeff is however right about the current staffing issues at airports, it is an own goal by the airports and airlines who laid off staff during the pandemic in the belief that they could simply rehire (on new contracts and lower pay) when the industry restarted.

    It is perhaps noteworthy that some of the larger and well known (US based) tech companies, who have grown used to regular cuts in the workforce – to keep people on their toes, are starting to discover the pool of labour isn’t limitless and their names is not longer sufficient to attract people, are beginning to have real problems recruiting people to work for them. The world is a changing…

  • David Raw 27th Jul ’22 – 7:20pm:
    There wouldn’t be the need for “the French authorities to adequately staff their border at peak times” if Brexit hadn’t happened.

    The UK has never been in Schengen. So French passport checks have always been required. The French have a history of using inadequate staff to conduct these checks. French understaffing was worse in 2016 — pre-Brexit when we were in the EU — than this year. Only having a single officer to check the passports of all coach passengers was always woefully inadequate regardless of Brexit…

    ‘Just ONE French border officer checking passports on coaches as thousands of motorists stranded at Dover ferry port’ [23rd. July 2016]:

    The Port of Dover said “French border control booths have been seriously understaffed,” adding: “at one stage only one French officer was available to check passengers on hundreds of coaches.”

  • ‘Just ONE French border officer checking passports on coaches as thousands of motorists stranded at Dover ferry port’ [23rd. July 2016]:
    https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/just-one-french-border-officer-8477217

  • Mick Taylor 28th Jul '22 - 8:26am

    Come on chaps/chapesses. Brexit is the main reason for the chaos at Dover. Blaming the French is just Brexiteers trying to pass the buck (and certainly in the case of many Francophopia).
    Anyway, I agree with David Raw and repeat my earlier comments on another thread that the LibDems – and Ed Davey as Leader – must now start talking about moves to rejoin the single market and the customs union and stop cowering beneath the blankets as if somehow this statement of principle is less important than winning bret voting seats from the Tories.
    As Slartibartfast so correctly observed this is now an SEP, at least for me. I have an EU passport which does not have to be stamped and I am not limited to 90 days in every 180 for stays inside the EU. Many people are doing likewise.

  • Chris Moore 27th Jul ’22 – 1:12pm:
    Personally, I love red tape and pointless procedure and men in uniforms.

    That’s EU red tape which is imposed on Spain. It’s not the responsibility of the UK. It doesn’t have to be that bureaucratic. Here’s, La Repubblica’s UK correspondent, on his recent experience entering the UK…

    Antonello Guerrera [26th. July 2022]:
    https://twitter.com/antoguerrera/status/1551931075928231936

    Sorry if this may disappoint someone, but I have just arrived at Heathrow, terminal 5. Super smooth. Time to get out and get through the border: literally 39 SECONDS. I wish France and other European countries would allow e-gates for UK citizens as UK does for EU citizens.

  • It is NOT imposed by the EU..It is up to individual countries; as a reporter he should know better. France Spain, Portugal and others still allow UK citizens to use the e-gate but, as a third tier country. you need entry stamps..

    BTW, the use of e-gates is not a special concession to EU countries:, citizens of Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland and the USA can all use this facilitiy.

  • Peter Hirst 30th Jul '22 - 1:52pm

    This is an internal party matter and the Conservatives are taking advantage of it to promote their image. I know it’s awful but it’s publicity all the same. It should be regarded as similar to a PPB and other parties be given equivalent air time.

  • Simon Banks 3rd Aug '22 - 1:49pm

    If both the major parties seek the centre ground, smaller parties need to be somewhere else. The centre ground is on any case not one place. You need at least three measures – pro-rich v pro-poor (or anti-redistribution v pro-redistribution), pro-diversity v anti-diversity and green v anti-green. That’s only in England as none of those map nationalism in the sense of a national independence agenda.

    What is interesting in the reported Tory members’ comments is that rolling back the state is equated with traditional Conservatism. Traditional Conservatives did not reverse Gladstone’s Education Act, the beginnings of a welfare state under Campbell-Bannerman and Asquith or the vast majority of big state measures under Attlee. Rolling back the state Conservatism is a quite recent American import.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • Michael BG
    Peter Martin, Indeed, it was a Lib Dem policy to increase the Income Tax personal allowance above inflation each year to remove those on the lowest pay from ...
  • Sadhbh
    I believe energy price rices of only 4% are planned in France where the energy companies are nationalised. Maybe there is a lesson to be learned from this?...
  • William Wallace
    Responses to populism are difficult to judge - because the essence of populism is to reject reasoned argument, and to blame elites (often portrayed as plotting ...
  • expats
    Truss and Sunak are like hucksters at a carnival; each trying to outdo the other with more and more unbelievable claims..."His two-headed boy is a fake; come an...
  • Jeff
    Phew! What a scorcher! That’s a phrase we have rarely heard in the UK since 1976. This summer is on track to be around 2˚C less of a scorcher than ...