It’s only been three weeks since Liz Truss had her first questions from the Prime Minister.
Back then, praise for her performance was nearly universal. But I remember thinking Theresa May was the same way.
When May made her debut as Prime Minister in Despatch Box in 2016, she too was hailed for a strong and determined performance.
She, too, gave the good impression of a leader who knew where she was headed.
And everyone remembers how that worked out.
Still, I think three weeks has to be the shortest time in history for the wheels to fall off a government car.
Some in the Conservative Party insist the reaction to the government’s mini-budget last week was overdone.
They insist that markets have overreacted and that things need time to settle down.
Incredibly, there are other Conservative MPs who seem to think Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng should resign or even be sacked.
Still others think it’s time to get rid of Truss.
It never ceases to amaze me how the Conservative Party in power still behaves like a bunch of bickering teenagers.
Then, at every election, they present themselves as the party of the responsible government.
Which – if Labor is the opposition – they still relatively can be.
But last week’s policy announcements appear to have been what are technically referred to as the omni-shambles.
It’s true that tax cuts are one of the ways to boost growth.
But you cannot do this at the same time as announcing further borrowing.
Or at least you can, but you would have to announce new government spending cuts to pay for the tax cuts and extra borrowing.
In other words, the problem isn’t that the government did something, but that it did too many things at once.
It is understandable that the government would want to help struggling households by limiting energy prices.
But what is the plan to pay for it?
Normally a government would determine that.
She would opt, for example, to cut or freeze the NHS’ ever-expanding budget.
Or it would make cuts in some other government department.
It’s very odd to refuse to say where you’re going to make cuts and end up just adding more credit to national balance sheets.
That’s why the markets, the Bank of England and others have reacted so badly to the mini-budget.
It was a gravity defying circus show.
Just for gravity to bring the show down.
Unfortunately, it’s not even a funny spectacle.
It’s deadly serious for households across the UK. Inflation is likely to rise.
The pound is still weak against foreign currencies.
And the UK housing market is finally hitting a serious buffer.
Conservative governments constantly talk about the need to tackle the housing market.
Especially the difficulties that young people have to climb the career ladder. But for now, try to buy a house.
Try to find a mortgage company willing to give you a mortgage and you will see the practical consequences of this government’s actions.
Banks and other mortgage providers cannot offer fixed rate mortgages because they have no idea what interest rates are going to be.
There is deep uncertainty everywhere.
It didn’t help that the chancellor seemed to be taking the afternoon off after her bomb budget last Friday.
Normally, a chancellor would ring the bells of the banks and big funds for a budget to calm nerves.
Kwasi Kwarteng appears to have gone missing in action.
So did Liz Truss for almost a week until yesterday morning when she completed her round of local radio appearances.
And that’s just not good enough.
Countries, like markets, need reinsurance.
We deserve our leaders out there to defend their policies, no matter how difficult that may be.
That’s what real political leadership is all about.
It’s not about making announcements and then ducking. It’s about making politics and sticking to it.
Of course, Truss and Kwarteng are in a bind here.
Because they know they can’t just withdraw their mini-budget or any part of it.
You’re essentially stuck with it.
To withdraw her would mean losing all authority.
Not just in the eyes of the country, but also in the eyes of what the Tories often hold dearer – the Tory party.
But sticking with the whole thing will mean sticking with policies that have already proven fantastically destructive.
Truss has tried to give the impression of strong leadership.
But she has already fallen squarely into the trap that so many of her predecessors fell into.
“Strong and stable leadership.” Remember that?
Hard for PM Truss
CONGRATULATIONS to BBC Leeds’ Rima Ahmed and BBC Stoke’s John Acres for the haircuts in their interviews with Liz Truss yesterday morning.
Ahmed asked what everyone thought.
After rolling out all the issues from the past week, she asked Truss, “Where have you been?”
While Acres seemed to leave the Prime Minister speechless with his simple questions about their policies.
I’m guessing Truss figured she’d get carried away easily by local radio.
In fact, many local radio presenters – on a number of networks – are far more powerful interviewers than some of our more stale BBC greats.
You are hungry and hungry for history.
Something that politicians often discover at their peril.
Airline is Virgin at the ridiculous
I WAS thrilled to read yesterday that Virgin Atlantic is scrapping male and female uniform rules to allow crew to “express their identity”.
Because if there’s one area of life that’s just too frighteningly heterosexual, it’s definitely the world of flight attendants.
So here is another great victory over discrimination.
Seriously, I’m so bored with companies like Virgin trying to rack up virtue points by making announcements like this.
I don’t care how Virgin cabin crew chooses to ‘identify’ themselves. The whole thing is boring.
What is important to me is the identity of the public as customers.
The last time I tried to reach a real human being on Virgin Atlantic it took me a few hours before I finally gave up.
I’m starting to wonder if the phone wasn’t picked up as the staff tried to figure out what uniform to wear.
Drop the virtue signalling, Virgo, and do what you’re supposed to do better.
Queen of our arts
FOR years there has been debate about what to do with the fourth and only empty pedestal in Trafalgar Square.
It had long been thought that the space was reserved for a statue of the late, great Elizabeth II.
It’s perhaps the only thing that could make up for the last few years’ parade of junk on this pedestal.
A constant stream of banal and meaningless babble pretending to be “art”.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan initially dismissed the idea of a statue of the Queen on the pedestal before backing down.
Why? Was it because she wasn’t “proper” enough for the pedestal?
Perhaps Khan thought such a statue would not represent enough “minorities”?
Of course we couldn’t have a new piece of art in London that would appeal to everyone, could we?
STUDENTS in Nottingham returned to university this week, partying in the traditional, fresher style that was in vogue until Covid ruined it all.
After a few years of virtual learning hell, I’m hardly surprised they wanted to drop their hair.
But frankly, how many spoilsports are there in this country now who criticize you.
Personally, when I see groups of students braving freezing temperatures in nothing more than a pair of budgie smugglers or a miniskirt, it makes me proud to be British.
Set a sign
In a surprise move, Queen Margrethe of Denmark has stripped four of her grandchildren of their royal titles.
Announcing they would no longer be known as His or Her Royal Highness, the Queen said it would be “good for her”.
I wonder if there are any lessons Queen Margrethe learned from another Queen and another royal grandchild?
https://www.the-sun.com/news/6334211/defy-gravity-pm-liz-truss/ If you want to defy gravity, Liz Truss, at least tell us HOW