Tag Archives: liz truss

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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Daisy Cooper slams Truss speech and Ed Davey calls for General Election

Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper has absolutely slammed Liz Truss’s speech on the steps of Number 10.

It did nothing, she said, for the business owners who were scared that they might have to close their businesses in days if not weeks.

She criticised the reported Truss plan on energy bills, saying that she should pay for it by taxing the energy companies’ massive profits rather than through general taxation.

Ed Davey was up early this morning. A friend of mine on Twitter saw him keeping warm with a Pret coffee. He explained to BBC Breakfast why the Government should tax energy firms:

 

Ed also called for a General Election to get the Tories out of power once and for all:

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Another day, another new Conservative Prime Minister to muck up our lives

Boris Johnson and Liz Truss are in for an absolute treat today. It’s more of a faff to get to Balmoral than a quick spin up the Mall to Buckingham Palace, but the journey from Aberdeen through Royal Deeside is absolutely gorgeous. The heather in the hills round about Aboyne is particularly stunning, even if it is, as forecast, tipping it down.

I am so glad that they are going north to see the Queen. The 96 year old monarch has earned the right to say that they should come to her.

I wonder what arrangements have been made for Boris and Carrie to get back from Balmoral. Normally the outgoing PM gets a taxi from Buckingham Palace. Will the estate manager drop them in Ballater so they can get the bus back to Aberdeen to catch the Easyjet back down south? Probably not, but it’s an amusing thought.

Much has been said about the new Prime Minister’s bulging in tray. Competing economic, energy, international and health crises require urgent action. I don’t think we are emphasising enough, though, the extent to which all these issues have been made worse by the foolish actions of the Conservative Party in Government since 2015.  From David Cameron’s ill-advised pledge to hold a referendum on our EU membership, to Theresa May’s and Boris Johnson’s choice to pursue the most extreme form of Brexit, they have helped create much tougher economic circumstances than in similar economies.

Sectors like social care are falling apart because of their anti-immigrant ethos. As care workers went back to the EU, our disabled and elderly friends and family found that the help that they relied on disappeared.

Boris Johnson’s boasterish farewell speech this morning didn’t mention this. He didn’t get Brexit done. He left a predictably impossible situation in Northern Ireland and the new PM intends to take the nuclear option of breaking international law rather than find a more pragmatic solution.  Deaths from Covid in the UK are the highest in Europe and the long term consequences of their pretence that the pandemic is over are being felt by too many people.

It takes some brass neck to deliver such a bullish speech when you have been forced from office in disgrace after the resignation of half of your government. Tim Farron summed it up this morning:

Jo Swinson said back in 2019 that the worst thing about Boris Johnson was that he just didn’t care. He simply couldn’t be bothered to understand how his Government’s actions affected people. Liz Truss, similarly, shows no sign of giving a damn and she doesn’t have anything like the charisma of her predecessor.

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William Wallace writes: The chaos of single-party government

Conservative HQ has briefed the media that it plans to attack other parties in the next election campaign for offering ‘a coalition of chaos’ instead of the ‘strong and stable’ single-party government the UK has benefitted from since 2015.  Liberal Democrats should be rubbishing this fantasy.

In the past seven years we have suffered two early elections and three prime ministers – with a fourth now coming into office.  We have had four Chancellors of the Exchequer, five foreign and business secretaries, and six cabinet ministers for education – seven if we include Michele Donovan’s two-day term.  Junior ministers have turned over at an even faster rate, many moving on after less than a year without time to learn their jobs.  Rapid shifts of policy, inconsistent announcements on priorities, officials having to start again briefing new ministers often arriving without any relevant expertise about their responsibilities: chaotic government by any definition.

We can expect another round of ministerial churn in the coming week.  In 2019, what’s more, 21 MPs were suspended from the Parliamentary Party.  Only 10 had the whip restored; two former chancellors and two other former cabinet ministers were among those expelled from the party.  Ken Clarke remarked that the party that expelled him was no longer Conservative; ‘it’s the Brexit Party, rebadged.’

At a Liberal Democrat Business Network gathering last week people were telling me how they longed for the stability that a coalition government might offer after the twists and turns, factional plotting, and inconsistent ministerial directives they have suffered since 2015.  We are likely to face more infighting after the embittered leadership contest we have seen this summer, which will make it even harder for the Conservatives to present themselves as a model of stability at the next election, and easier for us to make the case for institutional change to give Britain better government.

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The perils of nostalgia and boosterism

I think most political activists outside the Conservative party will have worked out that Liz Truss tries to combine the style of Thatcher with the boosterism of Johnson. The Iron Lady will always be “that bloody woman” for many of us. She can be accused of promoting profoundly destructive policies but I don’t think she went down the road of cheap optimism as far as Johnson/Truss have gone. Most politicians will use the word “hope” in their speeches and leaflets but it is important to distinguish between the hope that flows from a vision of a better world and a more civilised society and the promise of a golden future which simply ignores reality. The latter is, of course, the stock-in-trade of populist authoritarians. Few nations wish to dominate the world but Hitler and Goebbels managed to sell the plan for doing so to the German people even when the Nazis started to lose World War 2.

I would be hard pressed to say which is the most dangerous between nostalgia and boosterism. Both refuse to face and communicate reality, or perhaps an interpretation of reality, and in different ways both can have cruel consequences.

In England nostalgia played a powerful part in the EU referendum and in the Conservative so-called Red Wall gains in the 2019 General Election. Looking back to imperial glory has contributed to the UK’s steady decline over the post-war decades. Other European countries managed to get over the loss of colonies, with the exception of Putin’s Russia! English nostalgia for the past is a grim drag on our politics. At a time when generations have never hitherto been so polarised both in political outlook and political participation, it is perhaps a cliché to suggest that hope for the future lies with younger generations. The best political legacy that my generation could offer (apart from continuing to die off!) may be discussing politics with grandchildren and persuading them to vote.

While recession looks inevitable in the midst of so many other crises, we must hope that people will realise the hollowness of the promises of sunlit uplands emanating from Truss and her ilk. My parents lived through the 1930s in one of the poorest parts of the North-East but they claimed that never being without shoes helped to get them through tough times. Between the wars some working class communities were lured into voting Conservative, expanding the minority ongoing working class Tory vote. They insisted that the harsh realities of the thirties resulted in the “never again” approach, reflected in the 1945 election result.

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25 August 2022 – today’s press releases

  • GCSEs: Government deserves an ‘F’ for letting down pupils
  • Missing: UK’s Foreign Secretary. Last seen leaving G20 early
  • Dentist crisis escalates as new data reveals drop in NHS dental appointments

GCSEs: Government deserves an ‘F’ for letting down pupils

Responding to today’s GCSE results, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Munira Wilson MP said:

The Conservatives have fiddled the figures and failed our young people yet again. Ministers have thrown into question thousands of students’ futures by taking their grades away to correct two years of exam chaos.

Young people receiving their results today faced unprecedented disruption to their studies. The Government deserves an ‘F’ for letting down these pupils, their parents and their teachers since day one of the pandemic.

This uncaring Conservative carousel of Education Secretaries cannot be trusted with our young people’s future any longer. We need proper investment in helping children recover lost learning from the pandemic, and we need them gone.

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What if the Tories lose an Autumn 2022 General Election?

The temptation for Liz Truss to call a General Election soon after becoming Tory leader might be too much to resist. A shiny new leader might enable them to win. But I’m wondering about the other side: might they be planning to lose? In an ideal world they’d have done that before Boris Johnson’s position became completely untenable, but there’s a narrow window in which Truss might be able to lead per party to defeat and survive as leader by blaming her predecessor.

We need to think about this because it would inform our campaign and shape some difficult decisions afterwards.

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Liz Truss is still a Republican

Liz Truss was a British Republican when an undergraduate.  Now she’s much more an American Republican than a British Conservative.  Her rhetoric about tax cuts, paying for themselves through increasing economic growth, is straight out of the Reaganite textbook; which is hardly surprising, since she is on record as having asked right-wing think tanks in Washington while visiting what lessons she could learn from Reaganomics and their attacks on regulation and red tape.

It is surprising that commentators in Britain have not paid more attention to the long-term colonization of the Conservative Party by the American right.  I first caught a glimpse of the process when catching a plane to Washington for a transatlantic conference during a short parliamentary recess, some twenty years ago, and found myself accompanied by over a dozen Conservative MPs – none of them specialists in US-European relations – invited to meetings with Washington think tanks.  The stalwarts of the European Research Group look across the Atlantic for intellectual leadership, and often travel across; though they rarely interact with Conservative politicians on the European continent, except with Fidesz in Hungary and other authoritarian populists.

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Sunak and Truss on Grammar Schools

Yesterday Rishi Sunak agreed that he wanted to bring back grammar schools. Earlier Liz Truss had said that she wanted to end the ban on new grammar schools.

I find this profoundly depressing.

No-one should talk about grammar schools in isolation from the rest of the education system. They are one aspect of a selective system which sees all children placed in either a selective grammar school or a non-selective school. Each new grammar school generates, by default, at least two other schools designed for those who don’t attend grammar schools.

Such a system is based on three questionable assumptions.

  1. Bright children are not served well by comprehensive schools. (Odd then that Liz Truss got into Oxford from a comprehensive, even though she now chooses to denigrate her old school.)
  2. A child’s educational potential is fixed and can be identified at the age of 11. (This has been thoroughly debunked.)
  3. Selective systems benefit all children and society at large. (Ah, where do we start?)

I was a product of the selective system – as indeed were many people who are still in positions of influence and power, who believe that Grammar Schools gave them a good start in life. At the time it didn’t feel right to me. I went to a Grammar School where I was expected to take O levels and A levels while some of my friends were channelled into Secondary Modern Schools where they were forced to leave at 15 without any qualifications. I knew that they were being educationally disadvantaged and that it would have an impact across the whole of their lives.

In 1965 just 20% of pupils gained 5 or more O Level passes in England and Wales – and they would have all been studying at Grammar Schools. By 1975 the majority of local authorities had moved to a comprehensive system, and improvements in attainments started appearing in the 1980s. Over the years the percentage of pupils gaining what is now known as a Level 2 qualification (5 or more GCSEs with A* to C grades, or equivalent) has risen steadily.  By 1988 it stood at 30%, but by 2015 it was 86% (although it has dropped back a few points since then).  So no-one can argue that outcomes were better under a selective system – it was comprehensive schools that overwhelmingly delivered these results.

And of course there is plenty of research which shows that selection favoured the middle classes. Indeed my feelings of unease solidified when I spent some months in my gap year working for a renowned team who were researching just that.

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How Liz Truss emulated Margaret Thatcher as an Education Minister

David Laws’ Coalition memoirs tell  how Liz Truss’s stubbornness as a  junior minister became part of the Tory-Lib Dem mudslinging fest by Michael Gove

I would like to point especially new Lib Dem members to the memoirs of David Laws on his experiences at the heart of the 2010-2015 Tory-Lib Dem Coalition government. Laws  tells us about Liz’s first steps as a junior Education minister, and her characteristics and policymaking attitudes  which shone through.

On Saturday, Andy Boddington reported on a Times article in which Neil Fawcett, now a Federal Board member and  Oxfordshire County councillor, said that Liz in her LDYS days was on the radical wing of our party, promoting both abolishing the monarchy and legalising cannabis. On that last point she made the first of a whole series of Damascene conversions  after joining the Tories in 1996.  During her 2001 Hemsworth parliamentary campaign she said that she now opposed it.

From 1998-2010 she was active in Tory local politics in Greater London and Greenwich, before entering parliament in 2010 from David Cameron’s A-list. So she knew about local politics, in which Education and Childcare (at least in  Dutch local politics) are always a big issue. For all Social Liberals, good childcare and good education from the earliest stages has been a major issue for the past 140 years.

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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.

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Did Liz Truss jump parties to advance in politics?

Here on LDV, we have been reviewing the past of a politician who might our next prime minister. Once an ardent Lib Dem with a passion for getting rid of the monarchy, she appeared on national TV with Mark Pack and Paddy Ashdown. In today’s Times, we learn more about the young Liz Truss from Neil Fawcett, a Liberal Democrat councillor who is part of Layla Moran’s team in Oxfordshire.

She was bloody difficult to work with… I wasn’t massively surprised when she turned up as a Tory. I would not be surprised if she made a choice that she wanted to get on in politics and jumped horses to do it.

What has surprised me is that she has got to the level she has, because I never felt that she was particularly talented.

 

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More historic footage of Liz Truss

Well, the BBC is really helping us to build up our profile of the young Liz Truss. (See Andy Boddington’s post yesterday and mine on Wednesday, with all your comments.)

And guess who she is leafleting with in this video….

Who else can you spot? It even includes a brief glimpse of Glee Club.

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Truss and Paddy, and that call for abolition of the monarchy

“This Party will not duck and weave, unlike Labour, from the issues people are interested in.”

That could be Liz Truss today but it dates back to 1994, when Truss was president of Oxford University Lib Dems. She was at the Lib Dem conference in Brighton, speaking for a motion on abolishing the monarchy.

“I agree with Paddy Ashdown when he said, ‘everyone should have the chance to be a somebody’… We Liberal Democrats believe in opportunity for all. We believe in fairness and common sense. We believe in referenda on major constitutional issues… We do not believe that people should be born to rule.”

She said that when out with Paddy Ashdown earlier, they had come across a group of people, aged 50 to 60:

Fairly middle class, rather smart. Rather reactionary to be perfectly frank. We asked them their opinion of the monarchy. They said, ‘Abolish them. We’ve had enough’… We couldn’t find a single monarchist outside the Royal Pavilion.”

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Your memories of a former Liberal Democrat

You will all have learnt by now that Liz Truss was a member of the Lib Dems when she was a student. So we would like to invite our readers to share their memories of her time as a party member.

To kick us off, here is a piece from Liberator Magazine 411 – February 2022 (download it here):

TRUSSED UP

Could the new darling of the Tory right Liz Truss be the first former Liberal Democrat into 10 Downing Street?

Truss understandably draws little attention to her Lib Dem past and several readers who still come across her noted a marked disinclination on her part to reminisce about old times.

A photograph exists of Truss with other members of what was then called Liberal Democrat Youth & Students on a protest against the M3 extension in1994 – one of presumably few occasions on which the foreign secretary and ‘Swampy’ have been on the same side.

LDYS was also opposing then Conservative home secretary Michael Howard’s Criminal Justice Bill which sought to curb protests, though which looks positively moderate compared to the Policing Bill that the Government of which Truss is part is seeking to push through Parliament.

She spoke against the monarchy in the Lib Dem conference debate in 1994, which called for a referendum on its abolition after the Queen’s
death. Truss has since dismissed this as a youthful indiscretion but it might leave Her Majesty unamused were she ever invited to kiss hands. Truss is thought to have joined the Tories in 1996.

One LDYS veteran recalls: “She was always older than her age even at 17 when we first met. Always very ambitious and confident and displays the same mannerisms as she did all those years ago. I don’t think her characteristics are dissimilar to Boris (or are they just typical Tories?”

Another thinks Truss’s politics never changed much being liberal (at least then) on social issues and an economic liberal who was always an admirer of Margaret Thatcher. “I think she has always liked being controversial and is intelligent but says daft things either from lack of thought or to get attention,” he recalls.

And would you like to see that photo? Well, of course you would. Caron Lindsay published it in this post in 2016: Liz Truss as you have never seen her before.

Update: The BBC has found this for us.

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And then there were two …

So the contest will be between Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss.

The votes for Liz Truss and Penny Mordaunt were very close, with only 8 between them.

And now we know that the next Prime Minister is going to be chosen by 160,000+ people who worship the memory of Margaret Thatcher.

Ed Davey used his slot at Prime Minister’s Questions to demand a general election once the leadership election is over.

While Tim Farron commented on Johnson’s final remarks.

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Tory Leadership ballot – battles recommence

So we are down to six:

  • Kemi Badenoch
  • Suella Braverman
  • Penny Mordaunt
  • Rishi Sunak
  • Liz Truss
  • Tom Tugendhat

Jeremy Hunt and Nadhim Zahawi did not make the cut.

What does this mean for Liberal Democrats? We are conflicted here – which contender would be best for the country and which would be better for our party’s electoral prospects?  Boris Johnson was a disaster for the country but a huge asset to us in recent by-elections, but that is, of course, is no reason to want him to stay in post.  I would certainly put integrity and decency in a Prime Minister at the top of my requirements, even though it would probably produce an upswing in Tory support.

Sadly, those on the more centrist or liberal wings of the Conservatives, that is, those we have most in common with, simply won’t find enough support these days in either the Parliamentary or wider party membership. Tom Tugendhat, a liberal Conservative, is likely to reach peak support in the next day or two.

Instead cultural warriors like Kemi Badenoch, Suella Braverman and Liz Truss represent the beating heart of the Conservative party – who will the MPs coalesce behind?

But what of Penny Mordaunt? – described as the dark horse of this contest. She is seen by some as a social liberal, but economic conservative, who seems to stand outside the normal rhetoric.

And then there’s Rishi Sunak, in a class of his own. Too many right wing connections, too much reckless spending during the pandemic (though matched by beneficial furlough schemes and, close to my heart, the Cultural Recovery Fund), too little understanding of the impact of his actions on the poorest members of our society, and too much money of his own – no wonder he appeals to the Tory faithful.

What’s your take on the race?

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The pros and cons for Liberal Democrats of Boris Johnson remaining in office

Embed from Getty Images

Why Johnson should stay — Irina von Weise

Just as tactical voting is an unfortunate, but indispensable result of our voting system, trade-offs between the shorter and longer term are often necessary. Here is the choice: putting up with a blustering, lying buffoon as PM for two more years, or the prospect of another seven (or more) years of Conservative governments.

Let’s not forget: Johnson is not the problem, he merely epitomises it. The problem is a Conservative party hardly recognisable to its own traditional voter base, one that ousted its internationalist, rule-based MPs and replaced them with a cohort of spineless, corrupt loyalists.

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Liz Truss as you have never seen her before

If it hadn’t been for one of our peers moving house, we might never have had this wee gem fall into our hands.

We know that new Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor Liz Truss was once a young Liberal Democrat activist before joining the Tories. However, we now have photographic evidence from an LDYS newsletter from the time of one Elizabeth Truss proudly holding up the LDYS banner on a mass trespass at Twyford Down in protest at the Criminal Justice Bill on 2 July 1994. Simon Hughes also took part.

This controversial piece of legislation was introduced by Conservative Home Secretary Michael Howard and offended liberals by restricting raves, allowing inferences to be drawn from a suspect exercising a right to silence and strengthening unsupervised stop and search powers. Those latter powers were still being used until the Coalition years, when their use was curbed thanks to the influence of Liberal Democrats in government. See below in the comments for Rob Banks saying that he took the photo that appeared in the leaflet.

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 14.34.11

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Clegg says no to childcare ratio changes. My question is: why’s it the Government’s job to dictate them?

teather_cleggNick Clegg’s statement is categorical — the Coalition is abandoning plans to allow nurseries and childminders in England to look after more children. Revealed in January by Conservative children’s minister Liz Truss, the idea that the ratio for under 2s, for example, could increase from 1:4 to 1:6 was always going to be controversial. Here’s Nick:

“One of my absolute top priorities in government is to deliver better quality, more affordable childcare for parents up and down the country. I will relentlessly champion and pursue policies that deliver that –

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