What does Liz Truss’ raison d’être have in common with the Royal Mail? 

(Photo: Stan – YorkshireBylines)

By Rachael Ward – Regular Contributor

Out goes one and in comes another. The Prime Minister is the species whose lifespan just keeps on getting shorter and shorter. For those still counting, this is the fourth time the removal vans have rocked up at 10 Downing Street in little over six years. 

As the race for Tory leader and Prime Minister drew to a close, the public, or at least that proportion of it politically inclined enough to notice, awaited a number, not a name. Liz Truss’ lead had been decisive from the first blow of the whistle right until the last runners approached the finish line. What Truss waited to hear was the size of her victory, and Sunak, the scale of his defeat. 

As those much-anticipated numbers rolled in, though appearing pretty pleased with herself, Truss may have been a tad disappointed. Her lead, though enough to land her a win, was less overwhelming than projected. 57% to Sunak’s 43% of the vote is by no means a meagre majority. But compared to the 66% of Tory members who voted for Johnson just three years ago, not to mention the 68% Cameron managed to garner in 2010, her win looks ever so slightly weak.

With little time to shake Sunak’s hand, or even give him a gracious nod, Truss strove towards the stage to be handed the Tory torch. Cracking a little joke to kick things off, she jested that this had been the “longest job interview in history”. Well, one might hope so given that the job is leading the country through the most turbulent economic storm it has witnessed in decades. 

And then came the defining moment of her speech; “We will deliver, we will deliver, and we will deliver”. One would be forgiven for thinking that Liz Truss had just been elected as chief executive of DPD, rather than leader of the Conservative Party. Political commentators have drawn comparisons between Truss’ three-piece phrase, and that of Tony Blair’s own political triplet: “education, education, education”. The obvious difference of course being that education is a key policy issue and government department. Deliver is, rather, a noun. There is no Secretary of State for Delivery-yet.  

And then began the Boris tribute. In a direct address to her very own “friend”, Truss celebrated  Johnson’s accomplishments, key among them; ‘crushing Corbyn’ and ‘getting Brexit done’- presumably anxious to inherit support from the many cheerleaders her predecessor still has in the party. She continued; “You are admired from Kyiv to Carlilse”. A note on delivery: perhaps the first thing Truss ought to focus on delivering is the lines in her speeches that are intended to initiate applause. After dropping the line, a rather awkward and prolonged silence ensued, followed by a feeble round of applause once her audience finally realised that was what they were meant to be doing. Perfecting the panache of her predecessor is probably fairly high up on Truss’ to-do list. What’s more, it might have slipped her speechwriter’s mind that Labour replaced the Conservatives in Carsillie in this year’s local elections. The admiration for Boris Johnson in Carlisle is, as such, uncertain to say the least. 

Cutting to the chase, Truss recited her big economic idea, to cut taxes. Her plans will be implemented by the wide array of ‘talent’ there is within the Conservative Party, so she contends. It is a little curious therefore, that Truss could not find a place for Johnson in her cabinet, despite him being a personal ‘friend’ with a proven track record for her most coveted quality, delivery.  

Regarding her newly appointed cabinet, either Ms Truss has never heard of the politically useful adage-‘keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer’-or, more likely, she has simply chosen to ignore it. Those taking a seat at Truss’ top table are not exactly fresh faces. Kwarteng left the Business Department behind to become Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Thérèse Coffey shifted from Work and Pensions to Health. But there are certainly no Team Suank supporters occupying the great offices of State. 

Her maiden speech as leader of the Conservative Party closed with a promise to, you guessed it, ‘deliver’ a historic victory in the 2024 general election. Sticking to the electoral timetable does appear, at present, to be in the Prime Minister’s political interests. Labour is leading in the polls and support for the Tory Party continues to plummet. If the public mood is anything like that of comedian Joe Lycett’s when it comes to a Conservative government with Truss at the helm, who has chosen to fill the void of seriousness with satire, the new PM has a lot of work to do.

Saying that, what a general election might offer is a mandate of her very own. It is important to remember that Truss was elected as Prime Minister by a mere 0.12% of the population. That is, needless to say, a far cry from a mandate. Truss will be under intense pressure to perform in order to turn those polls around as quickly as possible. Her plan to do so, one presumes, involves the defining mission for the new 10 Downing Street; to deliver. Deliver what exactly? Whether it be parcels, postcards or policy, we will, presumably, soon be delivered something. 

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