Tag Archives: liz truss

A smoking ban isn’t “unconservative” – but it is illiberal

Oxford University Liberal Democrats graduate and worst prime minister ever, Liz Truss, raised eyebrows last week by describing the government’s Tobacco and Vapes Bill as “unconservative”. This is rather odd, because the Conservative instinct has always been to ban the things they don’t like. They didn’t like the idea that children might find out that gay people exist, so they banned teachers from talking about them. They didn’t like that people in Scotland might be able to self-identify as trans, so they banned the Scottish government from allowing it. And, most pertinent to what I am writing about now, they don’t like (most) recreational substances, so for the past several decades they’ve wedded themselves to the disastrous so-called War on Drugs.

Conservatives have a very shallow understanding of what freedom is, and when a conservative starts talking about freedom, alarm bells should start ringing. What these rebel Tories mean by freedom is the freedom for people like them to continue doing the things that people like them have traditionally done, such as hunting foxes, making racist jokes, or in this particular case, smoking tobacco. It generally does not include things that people who are not like them want to do, such as protesting peacefully, being transgender, or smoking cannabis. Unfortunately for them, Rishi Sunak has realised that he’s only got a few months left in Downing Street to scrape together some sort of meagre legacy, and so now Truss and her friends are experiencing the cognitive dissonance that comes from a conservative government approaching smoking in a conservative way.

So no, Liz, our esteemed former comrade, a smoking ban is not un-conservative. Banning a health risk and deploying our overstretched police in a futile forever-war against it is actually a very conservative thing to do (and also a very Labour thing to do, but that’s neither here nor there). Conservatives have never understood true freedom; that is the liberal domain. Which is why-…. Wait, what do you mean, the Lib Dems voted for this?!

Let’s backtrack a bit. I was raised with a pretty simple message: drugs are bad and I shouldn’t do them. I’ve still never done them. However, when I was seventeen, I discovered that some of my friends had smoked cannabis. The idea that they could be treated as criminals for this disturbed me, and it was a big moment in my teenage journey towards embracing liberalism. I joined the Liberal Democrats a few months later, and I’ve enthusiastically supported our position on cannabis ever since. Friends in the party have been campaigning for legalisation for far longer than I have.

To be very clear, the failure of the parliamentary party to oppose this smoking ban has possibly fatally undermined our campaign on cannabis. Watching the leadership tying itself in knots trying to explain how these positions somehow aren’t incompatible by means of weapons-grade centrist nuance was embarrassing.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 22 Comments

2 October 2023 – today’s press releases

  • Hunt rules out tax cuts as Conservative soap opera continues
  • Water bill hike: Bosses paid £41m in bonuses while customers asked to pay for upgrades
  • Liz Truss’s £18,000 golden goodbye same as five-year mortgage hit for typical Blue Wall family
  • HS2: Rishi Sunak makes Liz Truss look like a political genius
  • Covid Inquiry: Sunak’s failure to send messages is another “Conservative cover up”

Hunt rules out tax cuts as Conservative soap opera continues

Responding to Jeremy Hunt’s latest comments this morning ruling out tax cuts this year, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

The Conservative Party are fighting like rats in a sack, while

Posted in News and Press releases | Also tagged , , , , , , , and | 22 Comments

19 September 2023 – today’s press releases

  • OECD Report: UK economy is “stuck in the slow lane”
  • Revealed: Truss taxpayer handouts now reach over £40k
  • Sunak has failed to embrace the industries of the future

OECD Report: UK economy is “stuck in the slow lane”

Responding to the lastest OECD report, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Treasury and Business Spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

This damning report shows that under the Conservatives, the UK economy is stuck in the slow lane. We’ve had zero apology from Liz Truss for trashing the economy, and now zero plan from Rishi Sunak to fix it.

It’s time for a proper plan to grow the economy and tackle the cost of living. That means boosting apprenticeships to tackle skills shortages and helping exporters by fixing the government’s botched trade deal with Europe.

Posted in News and Press releases | Also tagged , , , and | 1 Comment

18 September 2023 – today’s press releases

  • Truss refuses to apologise for mini-budget while pocketing taxpayer handouts
  • RAAC: Lib Dems win vote forcing govt to publish register of crumbling schools and hospitals

Truss refuses to apologise for mini-budget while pocketing taxpayer handouts

The Liberal Democrats have called for taxpayer-funded payouts to failed ministers to be scrapped, after Liz Truss today refused to apologise to households for the damage caused by her mini-budget.

In 2022, Liz Truss was paid £18,660 in severance pay for her failed tenure as Prime Minister. Meanwhile, former Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng received £16,876 in severance pay, or £444 in taxpayers’ cash for each day he held office. …

Posted in News and Press releases | Also tagged , and | 2 Comments

17 September 2023 – today’s press release

Truss speech on economic growth like an arsonist giving fire safety talk

Commenting on Liz Truss’s expected speech at the Institute for Government on Monday 18th September, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper MP said:

Liz Truss giving a speech on economic growth is like an arsonist giving a talk on fire safety.

The Conservatives blew a hole in the nation’s finances, added hundreds of pounds to people’s mortgages and are still fighting like rats in a sack as our economy flatlines.

People are fed up with this endless Conservative chaos while the cost of living soars and our public services suffer.

The

Posted in News and Press releases | Also tagged and | 1 Comment

The Republican colonization of the British Conservative Party

Liz Truss has just made her second visit to Washington since she stepped down as prime minister: this time, to deliver the ‘Margaret Thatcher Freedom Lecture’ to the Heritage Foundation.  She pleased her audience by declaring that ‘It was Anglo-American individualism that made the world prosperous…Low taxes, limited government and private enterprise were what won the Cold War’ – and warning that ‘stagnation, redistributionism and woke culture’ are weakening the West in the coming struggle with China.

There are many untruths in such a statement.  It was Rooseveltian social democracy, on both sides of the Atlantic, that secured and revived democracy to win the Cold War.  The Thatcherite revolution swept in as the Cold War was ending, low taxes aided by the ‘peace dividend’ of cutting spending on defence.  ‘Woke culture’ is an invention of the American right, with racial undertones.  ‘Redistributionism’, otherwise known as progressive taxation, is an essential element of any democratic economy and society, resisted only by radical libertarians and authoritarian free marketeers.  But she was no doubt at home with her ideological Republican audience, far more than she would have been with almost any audience in London.

The colonization of the British right by American ideas and American money is one of the most worrying developments in national politics.  We cannot tell how far the well-funded think tanks of the right depend on US funding, since none of them publish where their funds come from.  Policy Exchange has a US Foundation to ease US giving, and the Taxpayers’ Alliance and the Institute of Economic Affairs have close US links.  There are rumours that US Evangelical bodies have promoted and funded ‘family-friendly’ campaigns against abortion and trans rights, in the ‘battle against woke culture’.  And the links with the Conservative Party are evident, in the flow of MPs and advisers to Washington conferences and of American visitors to events over here.

From May 15-17 the US-led National Conservatism movement will hold its seventh conference in four years, this time in London.  Its listed keynote speakers include Kevin Roberts, the president of the Heritage Foundation, together with Suella Braverman, Michael Gove, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Douglas Murray (author of ‘The War on the West’). Other speakers offer a parade of right-wing thinkers from the UK and elsewhere. The most important intellectual figure is Yoram Hazony, an Israeli-American philosopher and Old Testament scholar, whose writings on national conservatism reject much of the enlightenment tradition as well as the tenets of liberal thought.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 21 Comments

++BREAKING NEWS++ Liz Truss revealed as deep cover Liberal Democrat “sleeper” agent

Former Prime Minister Liz Truss has resigned from the Conservative Party after it was revealed that she has been acting secretly as an agent for the Liberal Democrats for thirty years.

In a bizarre series of events, the disclosure that an hereditary peerage was being lined up for Liberal Democrat President Mark Pack, sounded alarm bells which led to Ms Truss’ uncovering as a Liberal Democrat “sleeper”.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 24 Comments

24 March 2023 – today’s press release

Truss Honours: Rishi Sunak must block immediately

Responding to the leaked names on Liz Truss’ Honours List, Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Wendy Chamberlain MP said:

Handing out more expensive gongs to Conservative allies is a truly remarkable way to reward the shortest tenure as Prime Minister in British political history.

Truss and her Conservative colleagues trashed our economy and left millions in misery.

Those selected for honours are the very people who helped plunge the country into chaos and crisis.

Rishi Sunak must block these Honours immediately as allowing Truss to dish out positions of influence shows a stunning lack of humility.

Posted in News and Press releases | Also tagged and | 4 Comments

The alternative reality of the political right

Liberal Democrats operate in a world in which we assume that those we talk to and work with are reasonable, open-minded, fair and generous, and share broadly the same assumptions about society that we do. Except, of course, that those in power don’t. To an increasing degree, Conservatives who read the Telegraph, Mail and Spectator, watch Talk TV and GB News, follow research by right-wing think tanks and see US Republicans as their closest political soulmates live in an alternative reality.

Liz Truss is a classic example of this. After her rapid exit from the Prime Ministership, she travelled to Washington, to institutes already well-familiar from previous visits, to regain her intellectual self-confidence. The lengthy essay the Telegraph has since published for her was headlined ‘I was brought down by the Left-wing economic establishment’. That’s the Treasury, the Office for Budget Responsibility, the City of London, the solid ranks of economists in leading universities in the UK and other wealthy countries, even the business journalists of the Times. They’re all part of a left-wing consensus, against which right-wing free marketeers must valiantly struggle, with only the support of hedge-fund and property billionaires to finance their fight.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 27 Comments

6 February 2023 – the day’s press releases

  • Prepayment meters: Energy companies must pay back ‘Poverty Premium’ to those impacted
  • Spectator Interview: Truss is just another washed up Conservative minister

Prepayment meters: Energy companies must pay back ‘Poverty Premium’ to those impacted

The Liberal Democrats have called on the Government to ensure energy companies pay back at least the ‘Poverty Premium’ paid by the tens of thousands who had a prepayment meter forcibly installed this winter in compensation.

Speaking in Parliament today, Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse challenged Energy Minuster Graham Stuart, to apologise and ensure all discussions around compensation for prepayment meters at least cover the extra money paid by …

Posted in News and Press releases | Also tagged , and | 1 Comment

3-5 February 2023 – the weekend’s press releases (part 2)

  • One in seven have stayed at home to look after a relative due to lack of care staff
  • Truss Piece: Withdraw the £115,000 Ex-PM Allowance

One in seven have stayed at home to look after a relative due to lack of care staff

  • One in seven had to stay at home to look after a relative because of lack of care workers
  • Lib Dem Leader calls for new ‘Carer’s Minimum Wage’ to tackle chronic staff shortages in social care
  • New figures reveal care workers paid less than those in retail, hospitality and supermarkets

A staggering one in seven UK adults say they’ve had to stay at home to look after a relative over the last 12 months due to a lack of care workers, a new poll has revealed.

The survey, commissioned by the Liberal Democrats, reveals millions of Brits have had to step in to look after a loved one due to a lack of professional carers in their area. A further one in five (22%) UK adults say either they or someone else they know have paid for a private carer to look after a relative.

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey is today announcing proposals for a new Carer’s Minimum Wage, to tackle the huge staff shortages in the social care sector. Under the Liberal Democrat plans, social care workers would be paid at least £2 an hour more than the current minimum wage, bringing their pay up to at least £11.50 an hour today – and £12.42 from this April. The proposals would benefit 850,000 workers, making up more than half of all people working in frontline care.

The Liberal Democrats have said that the Government must give councils an extra £1bn a year to cover the higher staff costs, and say ministers must always take account of minimum wage rises when setting social care budgets. The party says its policy would be funded by increasing the tax on online gambling providers’ profits, known as Remote Gaming Duty, to 42%. Research by Public Health England has revealed gambling’s negative health impact and the pressures that it puts on the healthcare system.

The proposals would tackle soaring staff vacancies in the care sector. There are currently a staggering 165,000 vacancies in social care, up 55,000 since last year, with one in nine frontline care jobs vacant. These chronic staff shortages are leading to patients being left stuck in hospital waiting for social care, contributing to record-breaking waits in A&E and dangerous ambulance handover delays.

Posted in News and Press releases | Also tagged , and | 3 Comments

28-30 October 2022 – the weekend’s press releases

  • Lib Dems call for Suella Braverman to hand over texts and emails for future inquiry
  • Jane Dodds – The Housing Sector in Wales is Broken
  • COP27: Nadine Dorries as the voice of reason?
  • Liz Truss phone hacking story: Urgent investigation needed
  • Suella Braverman: Government must publish legal advice on detention of asylum seekers

Lib Dems call for Suella Braverman to hand over texts and emails for future inquiry

The Liberal Democrats have written to the Home Office Permanent Secretary, asking him to facilitate the handover of Suella Braverman’s text messages, WhatsApps, and emails for use in any future inquiry into her misconduct.

Lib Dem Home Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael raised concerns that the embattled Home Secretary could take advantage of a loophole exploited by Boris Johnson during an inquiry into the funding of the refurbishment of the Downing Street flat. The former Prime Minister claimed that he had been unable to hand over important messages because he had changed his phone.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson, Alistair Carmichael said:

We need an independent inquiry with access to all the relevant evidence, to establish the true scale of Suella Braverman’s rule breaking.

We saw how Boris Johnson and other Conservative ministers have tried time and again to duck accountability and cover up the truth.

Suella Braverman must be required to hand over all relevant evidence now before it is too late.

It took less than a day for Rishi Sunak’s government to be mired in the same old Conservative sleaze. His promise of ‘integrity’ was broken within hours of entering Downing Street. If he was serious about integrity he would commit to an independent inquiry now.

Posted in News and Press releases | Also tagged , , , , , , , and | 13 Comments

Observations of an expat: Brexit is back

Britain’s political classes have finally recognised the elephant in the room. It is now safe again to utter the B-word.

Brexit was embraced (narrowly) first in the 2016 referendum and then again in the 2017 general election.

Political leaders decided that the issue was decided and to press for a return to the EU would damage electoral chances.

The Labour Party decided to work on the basis of trying to achieve the best of a bad job. The Liberal Democrats, who had led the charge against Brexit, remain committed to EU membership as a “long-term aim” but have shelved it for the short and medium term.

But then they had not foreseen the logical consequence of Brexit—the disastrous mini-premiership of Liz Truss.

They should have. Truss clearly stated her plans in her campaign for the Conservative Party leadership. And before that it was outlined in detail in the 2012 book “Britannia Unchained” written by Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng along with Chris Skidmore, Priti Patel and Dominic Raab – all ministers in Boris Johnson’s “Get Brexit Done” government.

Truss has repeatedly stated that Britain is a “bloated state with high taxes and excessive regulation” and that the country’s workers are “among the worst idlers in the world” Her solution—and that of the libertarian right-wing of the Conservative Party—was cut taxes, throw out regulations, reduce public spending, and establish tax-free enterprise zones to attract foreign companies. Controlling immigration was not a core policy. It was a useful sidecar bandwagon which could be used to attract voters.

None of the above could be done as members of the European Union. Brussels is a maze of regulations designed to protect workers’ rights, the environment, consumer rights, freedom of movement and competition between member states and their companies.

The only way for the libertarian Tories to achieve their aims was by “taking back control” from Brussels.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 24 Comments

The fallout

Lib Dems have been busy today dealing with the fallout from the resignation of Britain’s shortest ever Prime Minister. I’ll rephrase that – the British Prime Minister who served for the shortest time in office EVER (although the original version is probably also true, if of no political significance).

First, all departing Prime Ministers are entitled to an annual allowance for the rest of their lives of £115,000 to cover office costs. This was covered in a press release yesterday, where Christine Jardine is urging her not to take it. Today Ed Davey told LBC radio:

Most people have to work at least 35 years to get a full state pension. I think working 45 days shouldn’t give you a pension that is many many times what ordinary people out there get after a lifetime of work.

Second, traditionally Prime Ministers can hand out peerages and other honours in a resignation list. Boris Johnson has only just honoured 29 people in that way. Another tranche following so soon from Liz Truss would be completely inappropriate. Wendy Chamberlain, Lib Dem Chief Whip, has written to the Chair of Parliamentary and Political Service Committee:

As you know, it is traditional upon a Prime Minister’s departure from office for them to issue a ‘Resignation Honours’ list. This list signifies individuals who are to be rewarded with an honour from the King which, in turn, would be considered by your committee.

However, because of the unprecedented circumstances surrounding Liz Truss’s tenure and resignation, I am writing to urge you and the committee to reject any Resignation Honours list put forward by her.

Liz Truss will be the shortest serving Prime Minister in British political history. It is possible that by the time she formally resigns, she will not have held office for more than 50 days.

I do not believe that it would be appropriate for Liz Truss to be permitted to issue a resignation honours list, given the extremely short length of her tenure.

I urge you to make it clear that you and your fellow committee members would not sign off on any such honours, which would be the second list in a matter of months.

Third, there is a lot of concern that Boris Johnson is thinking of entering the leadership contest. This was, of course, the Prime Minister who was only persuaded to stand down after 50 ministers resigned. As also mentioned in press releases our MPs have now tabled a motion to stop anyone who has broken the law while in Government from ever becoming Prime Minister. It reads:

That this House believes that the upholding of standards by its Members is of vital importance to the functioning of UK democracy; believes that it is vital that the Prime Minister and Ministers uphold these standards; and therefore resolves that any honourable or right honourable member that is found to have broken the law whilst in Government should be barred from holding Prime Ministerial Office.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , and | 5 Comments

Liz Truss goes, the country and world breathes relief

Jeepers. We needed this. But we didn’t need the continued instability. Liz Truss has rightly resigned this afternoon. She had no credibility when elected. She had no credibility in her few days in office.

The procedures for replacing Truss are uncertain. The Tories after a summer that saw potential candidates for the Tory leadership tearing each other and the Tory’s ability to govern the nation, govern anything was trashed.

In a statement outside No 10 today, Liz Truss resigned. She boasted of her low tax, high growth economy. She has submitted her resignation to King Charles.

The new Tory leader and the prime minister will be decided within the next week (by the Tories).

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 19 Comments

This fantasy government is now the stuff of nightmares

When we were children, we played games of fantasy. Believing we were nurses, fire fighters, astronauts. As adults we still play games, not always acting like we are grown up. The Conservative Party has become adept at this. It previously appointed a prime minister who fanaticised that rules didn’t apply to him. Its current fantasy prime minister claims she is running the country. And too many the party fanaticises that no matter what it does, people will still vote it into power.

Yesterday, the Conservative fantasy turned into farce. A pantomime. Party managers’ attempted to whip Tory MPs into voting in favour of fracking by turning it into a vote of confidence on Liz Truss. That failed big time, with around 40 Tory MPs failing to vote. Fracking is a contentious issue but for a prime minister to stake her job as prime minister on it when it was known that many Tory MPs will not support it was one of the most ill-considered decisions of modern government. And, as it proved, the stuff of nightmares.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 26 Comments

Olney: PM’s apology brings nothing but cold comfort

Yesterday afternoon, Penny Mordaunt was given an impossible job – defending the indefensible. She was asked to deputise for the Prime Minister in the Commons for Labour’s urgent question on the sacking of the Chancellor.

Mordaunt did much better than Truss ever could have done. She had a reasonable balance of “**** you”, humility, and even a bit of sincerity in the face of quite an onslaught from opposition MPs. It is hard to imagine anyone having a go at the opposition when they were part of a government that had made a crap economic situation much worse.

Labour missed a trick …

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 4 Comments

Reactions to the churn

So Kwasi Kwarteng is out and Jeremy Hunt is in. How long can Liz Truss last after today’s extraordinary moves?

Prominent Lib Dems have, of course, been giving us their take on the news:

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think we can see a clear message here!

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , and | 7 Comments

Ed Davey calls for General Election after Chancellor leaves office

We know now that Kwasi Kwarteng is out as Chancellor just hours after Downing Street told the BBC’s Chris Mason that he and Liz Truss were “in lockstep.” Whether he jumped or was pushed is for the journalists to work out.

I would be very surprised if we see them leaving Government in lockstep together, which seems unfair given that he was basically implementing the policies she put forward during her leadership campaign. In fact, he blinked first when the markets first went wild, putting out a statement after what was described at the time as a heated row between him and Truss.

It’s going to be interesting to see who she appoints as Chancellor – and who would be willing to do the job. Could we see Penny Mordaunt in No 11, or some  have suggested Jeremy Hunt.

We just have to wait to see what Liz Truss says at the press conference later this afternoon. She’s not a great one for humility and if there was ever an occasion that called for that in huge amounts, this is it.

While a u-turn, or partial u-turn (a j-turn?) on the Budget of Chaos will likely calm down the markets, the damage has been done to people’s mortgages and they will be feeling that for years to come.

Ed Davey has called for a General Election to get this lot out of office:

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 11 Comments

Lib Dem MPs on health crisis: government has got it badly wrong

One of the most stunning non-answers in the House of Commons of late was Liz Truss’s response to Daisy Cooper at PMQs yesterday on the danger of collapsing hospital buildings. The here today, and possibly gone tomorrow, prime minister either didn’t hear the question or did not know how to respond (Hansard).

In a debate in Westminster Hall, Daisy Cooper was again in action, this time on the preventive covid-19 drug Evusheld. This is a pre-exposure prophylactic drug administered by injections that gives a degree of protection against catching Covid-19. There are around half a million immunosuppressed people in the UK who could benefit from this treatment, including people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. But the government refuses to make it immediately available, instead waiting on a NICE review which may not conclude until well in 2023, after the expected winter surge in illness, including Covid and seasonal flu. Cooper said the government had got this “badly wrong”.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 7 Comments

The £500,000 donations for Liz Truss’ Tory leadership campaign

The Guardian has broken a horrifying and believable story that Liz Truss raised £500,000 in donations for her Tory leadership campaign with “about half of it coming from donors linked to hedge fund bosses, venture capitalists and other City financiers”.

In August Liberal Democrat Voice ran an article where I suggested that the Tory leadership campaign was looking like a presidential election — with a tiny, and unrepresentative electorate. That tips power further from Parliament to No.10 and pretends that the new leader has an entirely false legitimacy.

News of these donations takes this to a whole new level.

Of course, a leadership campaign costs money. A large number of small donations from Tory members would have been an early indication of support. But the actual donations are large, mostly in excess of £5,000, and the largest being £100,000. That looks like a small number of people having a large influence. Have we just seen a Prime Minister chosen by the 172,437 members of the Conservative party, or by the handful who put up the money?

Is Liz Truss’ perception of “the national interest” shaped by the perspectives of those who funded her campaign? Or did some wealthy backers find someone who could be bent to their interests?

The Guardian article is worth reading in full. Among its observations is that one donor gave similar donations to Rishi Sunak and Penny Morduant, which I hear as gaining influence over whoever was elected. It’s hard to track from donations to policy, but one donor also supports a think tank that supports the denial of climate change, and King Charles has withdrawn from plans to attend COP27 on the “advice of Liz Truss”. The article also says the expenditure limit was £300,000.

Posted in Op-eds | 5 Comments

Just deserts at Conservative Conference

Last week Ed Davey called on the Conservatives to cancel their Conference and sort out the economic mess they had created.

After days of rebellion, doom and u-turns, I bet they wish they had listened to him.

They aren’t getting the best press, that’s for sure, but then they don’t deserve it.

Kwasi Kwarteng’s feeble attempts at humour in his speech belie any contrition. And I doubt many of those who are now condemned to years of high mortgage payments will feel that either he or Liz Truss truly do get it.

The u-turns on the 45p tax rate and the publication of the OBR forecasts, although major events, are not the only things that need to change.

The Conservatives are showing themselves up as way nastier than they were when Theresa May gave her warning to Conservative Conference a whole twenty years ago.  This generation of leaders seem to have taken it as encouragement to become even worse.

For example, party Chairman Jake Berry had this to say to people struggling to pay their bills this Winter:

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 19 Comments

Tom Arms’ World Review

UK

The freshly minted British Conservative government of Liz Truss is on the ropes. They have only themselves to blame. The “mini-budget” of Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng has plunged the economy into a downward spiral. The pound is plummeting. Interest rates are rocketing. People are literally on the cusp of losing their homes, and the problems of the world’s fifth largest economy is having a knock-on effect around the world.

The Opposition Labour Party has soared to a 20-point lead in the opinion polls. The Truss-Kwarteng policy of borrowing billions to cut taxes in the middle of a recession has been totally rejected by the markets. One reason for the traders’ emphatic thumbs down is Kwarteng’s refusal to support his budget with an assessment by the independent Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR). Such support is usually a pre-requisite for any budget announcement. The market has interpreted its absence as a sign that the chancellor knew that the OBR would refuse its seal of approval.

Well, now the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee, has demanded that Kwarteng organise a retrospective OBR report by the end of October at the latest – and, if the OBR report is as scathing as the statements emitting from the corridors of the Bank of England and the International Monetary Fund – amend the budget accordingly. In the meantime, the Truss-Kwarteng duo are doing what every politician does these days when caught in a mess of their own making – doubling down and blaming someone else. In this case Ms Truss has hummed and hahed through a series dramatically misjudged local radio interviews. Putin, Ukraine, covid and world energy prices – everything except Brexit – were blamed for the reaction to the budget. But the fact is every other developed country has the same problems (except self-inflicted Brexit) and they have succeeded in propping up their troubled economies. The markets, therefore, have decided that Britain’s problems can be ascribed to political competence.

Baltic

Who blew up the Baltic Sea gas pipe lines on Tuesday? And who is the legal victim? It is almost universally agreed that the explosions were sabotage that involved a state military operation. But which state? Officially neither the Russians nor NATO are pointing a finger, but both are implying that the other is responsible. Sweden said it detected Russian submarines and surface vessels in the sabotage area shortly before the explosions. Russia retorted with a claim that there were even more NATO naval forces in the neighbourhood. Furthermore, the UN Security Council meeting to discuss the issue has been called by Moscow.

The identity of the attacker is important because the attack occurred in Danish territorial waters which means that it can be construed as an attack on a NATO member. On the other hand, it was an attack on Russian property and so Moscow might be able to claim that it was a NATO attack against them. It is quite possible that we will never know who was responsible because revealing the identity would further escalate the Ukraine War.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 13 Comments

What does the economic chaos mean for us?

Yesterday’s YouGov poll gave Labour an unprecedented 33 point lead over the Tories. With Lib Dems dropping to 7% you might think that is bad news for us, but, as we all know, polling is granular, and it actually increases our chances in Blue wall seats.

In the Guardian, Gaby Hinchcliffe reports on our chances in Surrey, driven by fears over fracking as well as the cost of living (which has now gone far beyond high energy prices).

For in his (Jeremy Hunt’s) South West Surrey seat and Dominic Raab’s Esher and Walton, plus neighbouring Guildford and Woking, Lib Dems are snapping closer to Tory heels.

Seats like this only really wobble in a crisis, as happened in the mid-1970s after economic turmoil under Ted Heath, and in the 1990s after the last sterling crisis. The combination of economic chaos and threats to the green belt is theoretically a gift to them. But is it enough to collapse the “blue wall”, that small but strategically important set of Tory-held seats where Labour can’t win but the Lib Dems just might?

Neil Sherlock, a former adviser to Nick Clegg, fought South West Surrey for the Lib Dems in 1992. He remembers the thrill of feeling the tide running his way, until the last few days when voters suddenly got cold feet. “They’d say, ‘I’d love to vote for you, but we’re not having that Neil Kinnock’,” he recalls. The Lib Dems thrive under opposition leaders who don’t scare their voters, a description that increasingly fits Keir Starmer. But still, though they came within a few hundred votes of snatching South West Surrey in 2001, it’s always hovered just beyond reach.

The YouGov poll may be a bit of an outlier, so we need to watch the general trend, of course. However the vultures are gathering.

For example, a petition to Parliament to “Call an immediate general election to end the chaos of the current government” is already well past the 100,000 threshold that triggers a debate in Parliament.

As we reported yesterday, Ed Davey has called on Liz Truss to cancel the Conservative conference and recall Parliament so MPs can debate the economic crisis.

And there are rumours that letters of no confidence in Liz Truss have already been sent to the 1922 Committee. Although the rules state that a leader should not be challenged for at least a year after a contest, there is nothing to stop the Committee changing the rules.

Posted in News | 14 Comments

29 September 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Davey: Truss must cancel Conservative conference to deal with economic crisis
  • Revealed: 32 crumbling hospital buildings including in PM’s backyard
  • Truss in complete denial on BBC Local Radio round
  • Liz Truss refuses to guarantee people’s pensions are safe
  • Fracking interview: Truss shows contempt for rural communities

Davey: Truss must cancel Conservative conference to deal with economic crisis

Ed Davey demands Liz Truss and her ministers spend time fixing the budget as new research finds Government energy bill support will be wiped out by higher mortgage bills

Typical family faces £2,000 rise in mortgage bills following last week’s disastrous budget

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey has called on Liz Truss to cancel the Conservative party conference this weekend, and instead recall Parliament to vote to fix the disastrous mini-budget. The party is also calling on the Government to bring forward a rescue package for homeowners unable to pay higher mortgage bills as a result of last week’s budget.

Ahead of the energy price cap rising on Saturday (1st October), new analysis by the Liberal Democrats reveals the predicted rise in mortgage bills is more than double what the Government has offered to support households with their energy bills.

The Government has pledged to freeze energy prices at £2,500 for the average household, which would have equated to around £1,000 support for the average household.

However, the fallout from last week’s budget is predicted to force the Bank of England to raise interest rates to as much as 5% next year, costing the average mortgage borrower on a Standard Variable Rate a staggering £2,100 per year. Those on an average tracker mortgage would face an even higher annual increase of £3,000 per year if interest rates rise to the predicted 5% next year.

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

There is no way the Conservative Party can hold their conference whilst the British economy nosedives. The arrogance of Liz Truss and Conservative Ministers is frankly an insult to millions who now face higher bills as a direct result of last week’s budget. From this weekend they will abandon their posts in Downing Street, leaving a mess behind them and heading for the cocktail parties and mutual back-patting of the classic conference season.

In one fell swoop, Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng crashed the economy, trashed the pound and paved the way for record interest rate rises.

Innocent mortgage borrowers will be left to pick up the bill of this gross incompetence. It is time Parliament is recalled and new measures passed to save families and pensioners unable to cope with this mortgage crisis. This botched budget cannot survive any longer.

Revealed: 32 crumbling hospital buildings including in PM’s backyard

  • Dangerous roofs not set to be replaced until 2035, Freedom of Information request reveals.
  • Hospitals in the Prime Minister’s and Health Secretary’s local areas have roofs at risk of collapse.
  • Liberal Democrats call on Government to fix the budget to save NHS from real-terms cuts amid rising inflation

32 hospital buildings across the country are fitted with dangerous roofs at risk of sudden collapse, data uncovered by the Liberal Democrats have revealed.

The Freedom of Information request has revealed that 32 buildings at 19 NHS Trusts are fitted with reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) which is said to be ‘structurally weaker’, ‘lightweight’ and ‘cheaper’ than a regular fitting. NHS England has also revealed that the dangerous roofs are not set to be fully replaced until 2035.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn, near Liz Truss’s constituency, is the worst in the country with four buildings fitted with the dangerous material. The chief executive of the hospital has previously likened the material to a “chocolate Aero bar” with bubbles that could break and collapse at any point. Liz Truss this morning refused to guarantee that the hospital would be fixed in an interview with BBC Norfolk, adding that she couldn’t make any promises on the Health Secretary’s behalf.

Posted in News and Press releases | Also tagged , , , , , and | 1 Comment

Truss car crash interviews on BBC local radio on cost of living and fracking

Having absented herself from the media for days, the prime minister chose to defend her decisions and Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget on BBC local radio. Truss appeared on breakfast shows on BBC Radio Leeds, Norfolk, Kent, Lancashire, Nottingham, Tees, Bristol and Stoke. Her media advisers clearly thought local radio would be a soft touch with presenters more used to talking about a church fete. So very wrong. The interviews were sometimes excruciating. You could hear pauses at times, as she struggled to find her scripted reply and to remember which radio station was interviewing her.

First up for the prime minister was an interview with on BBC Radio Leeds. As the first of the day, it wasn’t so much of a car crash for Truss as the later interviews.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , and | 8 Comments

Davey: Truss must cancel Tory conference to deal with economic crisis

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey has called on Liz Truss to cancel the Conservative party conference which begins this weekend, and instead recall parliament to vote to fix the disastrous mini-budget. Lib Dems are also calling on the government to bring forward a rescue package for homeowners unable to pay higher mortgage bills as a result of last week’s budget.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 23 Comments

The Conservatives no longer stand for a stable economy

Friday’s Kwasi-Budget was not officially a budget, despite being on of the most important fiscal statements since the Thatcher era. Because it was not a budget, it was not scrutinised by the Office of Budget Responsibility. That is yet another example of the Conservatives trying to circumvent processes designed to ensure that government’s act rationally.

This was a budget that will make top earners even more wealthy, while leaving the country and the poorest more impoverished. It was a budget based on the discredited myth of trickle-down economics. It was a budget that will allow wealthier people to dine out in style while those on the breadline scramble for crumbs.

This is an idealist budget driven by a leader who is beginning to make Margaret Thatcher look left wing.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 14 Comments

Davey: We have most right wing government in modern history

In an interview with the Guardian yesterday, Ed Davey discussed Liz Truss’s administration ahead of tomorrow’s budget that is not a budget. He said of Truss:

She is saying some of the most extraordinary ideological things. She has appointed probably the most right wing government in modern history. And it seems completely out of touch.

He said Truss’s decision to style Friday’s announcement as a “fiscal event” rather than a budget seemed to be aimed at preventing the independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) scrutinising its impact.

The failure to have an OBR assessment shows the economy is being run by ideology, not a plan. They clearly don’t want the evidence, because that would be unhelpful to their argument. And that should trouble everybody.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 1 Comment

Which public services will the Conservatives shrink further?

Liz Truss has just handed Liberal Democrat campaigners a powerful set of questions to put to Tory MPs. She insists that tax cuts are the answer to Britain’s economic problems – amounting to 1-2% of GDP, perhaps more once the full package of proposed cuts emerges. She’s pledged to raise defence spending by 1% of GDP – for which, sadly, there is a case when Russia intervention in Ukraine threatens European security. She’s promising to provide financial support for household and business energy bills, likely to amount to between 2% and 4% of GDP over the coming year, without offsetting the cost through a windfall tax on energy companies of the sort that most of our continental neighbours are levying. Other government programmes will have to be slashed to prevent public deficits spinning out of control.

So what cuts in other public services will Conservative MPs accept in order to prevent government debt spiralling and the pound sinking further on international markets? A squeeze on schools, or policing, or on the already-overstretched NHS? Holding down public service pay, while letting bankers’ bonuses soar? Slashing public investment in hospitals and transport infrastructure, and reducing local authority budgets further, thus saying goodbye to the promises of ‘Levelling Up’ that helped them to win the last general election? Or holding down benefits, leaving the poorest in our society even poorer? Ask every Conservative MP what further cuts they will support – or whether they will oppose this tax-cutting strategy.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 4 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • Ruth Bright
    I liked what Daisy Cooper did about the D-Day/Rishi controversy. Reading from her Grandpa's war diary was high risk because it is so easy to sound mawkish - but...
  • Jenny Barnes
    "Every member will have had many communications by now asking them to prioritise their efforts in a specific seat." No, I haven't had any, let alone many....
  • nvelope2003
    Whatever the reason for the move to the right in some states maybe the British have seen where this leads and will reverse the trend here. One can but hope....
  • expats
    The Conservative manifesto launch was far more like the funeral for an unpopular corpse than a christening... Little about past achievements much on 'future sna...
  • Alex Macfie
    @Simon R: Comments like these are populist right-wing tropes: "The liberal left has become a shill for a failed EU establishment…" ...