Welcome to my day: 15 August 2022 – in Tufton Street we Trus(s)t?

The contest for the leadership of the Conservative Party and, thus, Prime Minister, took more turns for the worse this week. Whilst Rishi Sunak desperately tries to convince ageing members of his party that he can be as reactionary as the next (wo)man, Liz Truss is demonstrating that, at heart, she has the instincts of a robotic magpie programmed by the denizens of Tufton Street.

Having suggested last week that most of the Civil Service should be sacked and the rest moved out of London, whilst the rest of the public sector should expect pay cuts, it didn’t get any better this week. First, she suggested that support payments to help those facing fuel poverty were a low priority compared to tax cuts. It seemed that she had been misrepresented (again). And then, the Civil Service was described as “woke verging on anti-Semitic” – she really doesn’t like them, does she?

I look forward to her relationship with the Civil Service going forward…

Mind you, given that there’s very little evidence that we have a functioning government anyway, the idea that whichever one of them wins might do something (anything) might be progress of a sort. Of course, their first task will be to appoint a new Cabinet and ministers, which won’t be easy. And time is relentlessly pushing on, with the energy cap increase to be announced in just eleven days and due to come into effect on 1 October.

We do, it is alleged, have a Prime Minister and a Cabinet who could act. But the former is off on his holidays again and the latter is paralysed awaiting the new boss. It’s not a promising scenario for those already financially stretched to near breaking point. Throw in inflation at nearly 10% and the upcoming mortgage rate increases, and the pain threshold amongst voters is tangibly close.

But what is it about Liz Truss that makes her prospects as Prime Minister so gloomy? She certainly doesn’t seem to have much empathy for the large proportion of the electorate who are dreading the winter – the heat or eat dilemma – and her willingness to espouse whatever ideological garbage that is published by her friends in the Taxpayers Alliance and others, regardless of its credibility or likely popularity, does suggest someone not terribly hot on detail. And yes, you can get away with that if you’re surrounded by competent people who understand the issues, but given that some of her key supporters appear ill-informed at best and downright out of touch at worst, the prospect of her in Number 10 doesn’t inspire confidence.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party have, after a period of reflection, decided to basically rebrand Liberal Democrat policy by calling for the cancellation of the energy price cap increase. As Ed Davey noted;

And, indeed, there are a whole bunch of other Liberal Democrat policies that Labour ought to at least analyse just in case they need to seek some sort of arrangement following the next General Election. Mind you, they didn’t in 2010…

* Mark Valladares is the Monday Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Actually Mark, they did hold negotiations with us in 2010, but the arithmetic of the likely rainbow coalition simply didn’t add up and we decided, wrongly in retrospect, to have a coalition with the Tories.

  • @Mike Taylor
    Actually, I disagree with the idea that the electoral arithmetic “didn’t add up”. The hard numbers were that the Conservatives had 306 MPs and Labour plus the Liberal Democrats beat that with 315. Even the Conservatives working with the Democratic Unionists would only have given 314. Therefore there was the basis to form a minority government to keep the Tories out of power. Unfortunately, to our great shame and electoral consequence, the Liberal Democrats chose power over principle. (I trust a hard lesson so we’ll learned that a repeat will be impossible in any future hung parliament situation.)

  • Well done, sadhbh, you’ve proved it with your own figures: Labour + Lib D were a considerable way from a working majority. It wasn’t doable.

    You’ve also possibly forgotten that in 2010 the Labour Party were very unpopular after 13 years in power. There had been numerous scandals, totally botched macro-economic policies, plus total blindness to the impending problems in the banking and housing sector, which Vince Cable tried to point out again and again to the Labour economic team – they weren’t having any of it.

    Plus Labour had just suffered a major electoral setback.

  • Michael Cole 15th Aug '22 - 12:00pm

    It all confirms what was apparent weeks ago:

    They haven’t got a clue.

  • Chris Moore, You’ve also possibly forgotten, that against one of the least popular governments in recent history, the Tories were unable to even get a majority (let alone a ‘working majority’)..
    Sadly, for both this party and the country, our ‘Orange Book’ leadership propped up a failing Tory party by voting for policies that should have been unthinkable for us..We paid the price, by losing much of our traditional support, whilst they moved to the right to counter the non-existent (under FPTP) threat from Farage..
    The rest, as they say, is history..

  • Steve Trevethan 15th Aug '22 - 12:11pm

    Here is a non party political approach to the current worsening crisis.
    Might our party adopt it?

  • Hi ex-pats,

    So we agree then: going in with Labour was not doable.

    As for Coalition: firstly, the Tories weren’t “failing”. I would have loved for that to have been true. But let’s not kid ourselves about the weakness of the Tories. It wasn’t true then and it isn’t now.

    Secondly, for our own electoral interests, we should not have gone into Coalition.

    Thirdly, we did get some good policy through. Gay marriage, poor pupil premium, raising basic tax thesholds, envirinmental policy and others.

    Fourthly, we made a fair number of errors. And didn’t block several ghasly policies, out of the many put forward by the Tories.

    I’m going to assume you agree with all that.

    Lastly, the orange book is looking very dated!!

  • The present government is such a disaster it should remove any further discussion on the rights and wrongs of the coalition years, but it won’t!

  • Chris…..As for Coalition: firstly, the Tories weren’t “failing”. I would have loved for that to have been true. But let’s not kid ourselves about the weakness of the Tories. It wasn’t true then and it isn’t now……

    Not only were they failing but that Tory party actually failed…It lost the ‘Brexit’ vote, it’s leader and chancellor and, with the Johnson administration, only those whose personal loyalty to him exceeded that to the party remain…

    Today’s Tory party owes far more to Farage’s UKip party than Cameron’s Conservatives..

  • mick taylor 15th Aug '22 - 3:37pm

    I never said that a coalition with Labour wouldn’t have added up, but the quoted figures are correct. I talked about a rainbow coalition, which to have a majority would have needed the Green and the SNP to be on board. Given the price the SNP would have demanded (independence?) there was never any basis to agree such a coalition. Hindsight is always perfect. Let’s hope the if the situation ever arises again, the party will have learned from its mistakes and will exact PR as its price for any agreement and insist that such a policy be put into law before any agreement.

  • Chris Moore 15th Aug '22 - 3:54pm

    Come on, expats, electorally the Tory party was not “failing”, neither in 2010, where they made considerable gains, nor now. You may detest its current iteration but that’s neither here nor there.

    In particular, it makes no sense whatsoever to cite the Brexit vote – 2016!!! – in a discussion of LD’s decision to go into Coalition – 2010!!

  • John Roffey 15th Aug '22 - 4:51pm

    Whereas it is quite possible to spend the time between now and the next GE mocking the Tory’s and Labour’s efforts to win the majority of seats, by comparing these to the Party’s proposals – I am not sure that this strategy will provide any extra seats when the election arrives.
    It is almost certain that the new Tory leader will delay the next GE for as long as possible in the hope that they will be able to increase their popularity – which presently is unlikely to provide them with a majority.
    It seems to me that a leaf could be taken from the Tories book by holding a lengthy discussion amongst Party members (including a vote) to decide what proposals should be included in the manifesto. However, I expect the leadership will wish to decide this themselves.
    Whereas this is a legitimate approach, I am inclined to believe that by limiting these proposals to those that relate to global warming, which does include many of the issues currently considered of most importance, the Party may be able to increase its representation substantially.

  • Peter Martin 15th Aug '22 - 5:25pm

    @ John Roffey,

    “It is almost certain that the new Tory leader will delay the next GE for as long as possible…….”

    I wouldn’t be too sure about that.

    Dec 2024 is the latest possible. Just over two years away. There is a general consensus the economic position will get worse in 2023 and is unlikely to improve in 2024. It could go from bad to worse then if the war in the Ukraine drags on, Europe is hit hard by drought conditions, and the UK housing market crashes taking the economy down with it.

    Whoever wins, almost certainly Liz Truss, will have a honeymoon period of a few months after becoming PM next month. The smart thing to do would be to take full advantage and call a snap election asking for a 5 year mandate to tackle the upcoming crisis.

    The Labour Party is in pretty poor shape. There is little sense of unity and widespread disillusion with Keir Starmer – and not just from the left. It is unlikely that the left will go along with Jeremy Corbyn’s almost certain deselection in Islington North. There is a high likelihood of a split.

    So we should all be prepared for an early election.

  • @Chris Moore
    “It wasn’t doable”
    This is where we disagree. Living in Scotland, I well remember that the SNP emerged as the largest single party after the 2007 Scottish parliament elections and were able to form a minority government with just 47 out of 129 MSPs – well short of a majority but they still managed to gain majorities for legislation, including their annual budgets, by building consensus on an issue by issue basis. They then went on to win an overall majority in the 2011 election. I can’t see any reason why a Lab/Lib Dem minority government could not have done the same.

  • Alex Macfie 15th Aug '22 - 8:30pm

    @Peter Martin: Any political honeymoon for the new Tory leader is likely to be very fragile and short-lived. This leadership election has hardly shown the Tories in a good light. Normally they enjoy a bounce when they are electing a new leader while in government. The main thing we know about Liz Truss is that she is “continuity Johnson”, yet Johnson is exactly the person the public have turned against.
    If Truss calls an early GE after becoming leader, she runs the risk of ending up like former Canadian PM (for a few months) Kim Campbell, who also had the problem of being unable to escape from the shadow of a no-longer-popular predecessor (Brian Mulroney).

  • Alex Macfie 15th Aug '22 - 8:32pm

    @Sadhbh: A minority single-party government is a very different thing from a minority multi-party coalition.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 15th Aug '22 - 9:56pm

    What has got into some here. I agree with Chris and expats , but folks, if we agree on anything, listen to Peter, Labour were and are in a state, but it is because the natural party of the centre left in a system like ours ought to include mainstream Lib dem and Labour. Instead we have some , a few in this party who are economic libertarians or centrirst Tories . We have many who fit the Greens. We have some in the Labour party who are Tories some who are communists.

    We need a party like the Democrats were say twenty or thirty years ago. Centre left. economically for just, social markets. For liberty and equality. Most Lib Dems, most Labour front benches apart from Corbyn could fit together. But the tribalism in Labour is why they do not.

    The Tories under Cameron conned some good people in this party. Cameron is not in the centre ground nor were his lot then or now.

    Brown would fit us, as would Blair, in the nineties. But they moved to the right.

    We are not a right wing or left wing groupimg. We are in the centre or centre left. Mainstream and radical.

    The rest is waffle and pointless. Nor is there any more reason to bring up coalition than in Labour, Iraq!

  • Gordon Lishman 16th Aug '22 - 8:02am

    A detail worth remembering from 2010 was the decision by key leading members of the Labour Party to close down any negotiations, presumably because they thought (reasonably) that the Labour Government had run out of steam and popular appeal.

  • mick taylor 16th Aug '22 - 8:30am

    @Gordon. Or more likely because they thought (probably correctly) that we were just negotiating for show and had no intention of doing a deal and had already decided the Tories were a better bet.

  • David Goble 16th Aug '22 - 9:44am

    @ Barry Lofty. You call what we have at the moment a “government”. Are you not being rather too complimentary?

  • David Goble. Apologies for calling the present administration a government but what I really think of them would be unprintable!!

  • The election of a Liberal Democrat Government or a progressive coalition government based on liberal/social liberal values and reform is the only way a UK of the British Isle is going to survive.
    The current UK is far too centralised around London and its oligarch ruling elite, with most economic, political, justice and planning decisions taken in London in the interests of the elite.
    This centralism and unaccountability threatens the very economic & political fabric of the union.

    There must be a commitment to a federal/confederal system allowing different nations and regions with their own strong identities to govern themselves with their own parliaments/senedd, Law & Justice systems, broadcasting, economy, banks, local currencies and immigration controls.

    Wales has never elected a conservative government but has been stuck with England’s decision to elect Tories to government. Most of Wales did not want the EU withdrawal referendum in 2016.

    If stuck without constitutional reform (including STV) I can see no point in continuing the United Kingdom then proceeding to an independent liberal Wales with UN status as an independent nation.
    An independent Wales, Scotland and England will also have the opportunity to join EFTA and the EU as new nations within Europe.
    Welsh Independence should be the default if there is no agreement.

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