Liz Truss is winning – but time is running out | Les Truss
As Liz Truss addresses the nation for the first time as prime minister on Tuesday afternoon, she may have to do so from the shelter of a large Downing Street auditorium rather than the traditional podium outside.
But the thunderclouds expected to gather in central London are not limited to the weather, as the new prime minister faces an economic storm as soaring inflation and energy bills hurt millions of families and businesses.
A month ago, Truss dismissed “handouts” as the best way to help families during the worst income pressures in 60 years, promising tax cuts and economic reform instead, and has stuck to the script ever since.
But her ambitions to follow thatcher’s approach to economics have since collided with the reality of the crisis. The Treasury has laid out a range of options for the new prime minister to choose from, and the favorite — a freeze on energy bills — includes both big handouts and a hefty price tag.
Labor is preparing to attack Truss as a theoretician, focusing on her ambitions to rip up workers’ rights and shrink the size of the state, and with it public spending on already cash-strapped services like schools and hospitals. Today they launched a major advertising campaign on billboards across the Red Wall cities, telling key voters that they “are not on your side.”
Despite this, allies claim she is a pragmatic, logical politician who has already demonstrated a capacity similar to that of Johnson in transforming from a Lib Democrat student into a right-wing Tory cultural warrior, and from surviving during the EU referendum to Brexit. . They suggest that she will be able to deploy this flexibility while in the position.
But time is not on Truss’ side.
Opinion polls, in which the Conservatives were already 10 points ahead of Labor, fell further after news of its announcement. A YouGov survey on Monday found that only 19% of people said they were confident in its cost-of-living policies, while 67% said they were not.
Conservative Party insiders believe it has weeks to conduct a blitzkrieg political campaign to deal not only with the cost of living crisis, but all the other domestic challenges in its No. 10 surplus on the list.
New leaders usually see a healthy bounce in the polls, but if she fails to do so, or even falls backward, her already turbulent party will turn rebellious.
However, Truss’s supporters caution not to underestimate her, saying that she is a diligent and competent minister who has more government experience than nearly all of her predecessors and has a firm idea of what she wants to do.
One ally says, “As a leader, you have to be able to make decisions. She can do that. She’s a hard worker and doesn’t have a lazy sense of entitlement like Cameron or Boris. She knows she doesn’t have a lot of time, but she’s determined to use what she has.”
But besides her internal challenges, Truss also faces serious problems running the party. Less than a third of Tory MPs backed her in the parliamentary round of the contest, and while a few rallied behind her, there remain deep skepticism about her on the back benches.
Its plans to tackle the energy crisis, and transform the economy to boost growth, will require legislation, meaning it desperately needs their support. However, there is already talk of disgruntled MPs planning to write letters to launch another leadership contest before she takes office.
Truss is under pressure to appoint a government trying to unite the party. But the Allies had already rejected such a move, arguing that it would mean giving jobs to those who openly criticized it throughout the painful leadership campaign.
“She’s been hiring people who don’t support her. People who have said publicly that her ideas are dirty and that she is incompetent,” says a major Conservative supporter in Parliament.
“They’ve gone on the Today show to announce a big new policy, but they’ll be asked if they still believe all of it about it. If you can’t pass the credibility test, that makes it very difficult.”
And one loyal minister adds: “She’s made it clear that she’s going to take the government in a different direction. She can’t have so many people who are supposed to be on her team saying, ‘That’s my mind.'”
Truss’ margin of victory – with the support of 57.4% of Conservative Party members against 42.6% for Rishi Sunak – was narrower than many expected.
She won by a smaller margin than any previous Conservative leader picked by members, the only one from Ian Duncan Smith, David Cameron and Boris Johnson to have received less than 60% of the vote. Perhaps this was not the crucial mandate she wanted.
Conservative MPs are already circulating Whatsapp messages on focus groups indicating that the better the public knows Truss, the less they like her. Falsehood is one concern that has been cited.
The gathering political storm clouds are showing no signs of rising.