Britain’s new prime minister has modelled herself on Margaret Thatcher but her history of flip-flopping proves she is not a politician with strong convictions like the ‘Iron Lady’. The Detail delves into Truss’ background to try and shed some light on who she really is.
Liz Truss has a big, bold action plan as Britain’s new prime minister to fix her country’s problems, starting with tackling the cost of living and energy crises.
She’s got no further than announcing a two-year freeze on people’s energy bills that will cost £150 billion, before having to shift her focus to leading a country grieving over the death of its monarch.
Everything is ‘submerged’ by the 10 days of mourning over the Queen and that means no more big announcements until next week. But the problems are not going away, they are just on hold. Besides inheriting a political and constitutional crisis, she’s got an inflation crisis, a war going on in eastern Europe, and a wave of industrial action by disgruntled workers from several sectors.
Should we feel sorry for her? Absolutely not, says Lloyd Burr, Today FM‘s drivetime host and former Newshub Europe correspondent
“She chose to be dealt this hand, so let’s not have any sympathy in it, she wanted this job, she knew what she was inheriting,” says Burr.
He recalls the “bizarre” speeches Truss gave before she became prime minister, campaigning to “make Britain great again” and admits he never expected her to be selected by the Conservative Party members – 0.01 percent of the electorate – to lead the country over early favourite Rishi Sunak.
“I couldn’t believe it, I thought what the heck’s wrong with these people. Is it just that they’re all racist and they didn’t want someone of Indian background to be the prime minister? Or do they actually believe in Liz Truss’ rhetoric in which she is the new Thatcher?”
Much has been made of the way Truss invites comparisons with Margaret Thatcher, the UK’s first female prime minister, in power from 1979 to 1990. Truss dresses, and often, sounds like Thatcher.
“It’s no secret that she’s a big fan of Maggie Thatcher in the same way that Boris Johnson idolised Winston Churchill. This difference is that Maggie Thatcher was an incredible conviction politician,” Burr says.
“She could stand on her own whereas I think Liz Truss wants to be someone instead of doing something.”
Truss is also accused of flip flopping over policies and issues such as Brexit and the monarchy. In time Burr thinks she will make some good policy announcements but we are yet to see what she can do to get Britain through this “tumultuous time”.
Political theory expert David Jenkins, who lectures at Otago University, says the price freeze on energy was a good announcement at the right time, as a lot of people are terrified about the prospect of soaring gas bills this winter. But he says there is no signal of shift away from fossil fuels toward using renewable energy.
“The cabinet she has chosen is very much aligned with the fossil fuel industry and so in terms of that particular policy, fine. In terms of what’s being signalled for months and potentially two years ahead, it doesn’t look hopeful but we’ll see what this fiscal event will amount to.”
Jenkins is referring to the major fiscal announcement expected next week after the Queen’s funeral. He describes Truss as a “to the bone libertarian” and a savvy political mover.
“She was able to maintain a certain connection with Boris Johnson which I think has been very important for her winning the support of at least a part of the [Conservative Party] membership, but in terms of where she stands at an ideological level she is going to be for tax cuts, she is going to be for stripping regulation out of workers regulations,” says Jenkins.
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