It wouldn’t have been many people’s idea of fun to have their demise spread over a 4,000-word essay in the Sunday Telegraph. Even fewer would choose to double down by giving a TV interview to the Spectator’s Katy Balls and Fraser Nelson the following day. But Liz Truss has often taken the road less travelled. The downside is that she’s yet to discover it’s less travelled for a reason. Still, it gives the rest of us a chance to reach our verdict. To decide whether she’s actually even dimmer than she appears. Or if she’s totally dishonest. Or both.
You’d have thought that someone who completely destroyed the record for the shortest serving prime minister and crashed the financial markets inside 50 days might want to step back from the limelight for a period of time. A couple of years minimum. Just to recover enough self-worth to be allowed out and about by herself again. Then she could start thinking about the future. The £115,000 a year every former prime minister can claim for expenses. The novelty act on the after-dinner speaking circuit.
But Librium Liz is the ultimate survivor of her own financial destruction. When all around her are still suffering from PTSD, she alone can hold the line. Tell her truth. She had done no wrong. More sinned against than sinning. No wonder Balls and Nelson had decided to do the interview as a double act. That way they could watch each other’s back. Stay firm in the face of an overpowering alternative reality.
So why had she chosen to break her silence now, Balls asked. Truss looked momentarily confused, before answering in the same flat monotone she used throughout the 50-minute interview. “I needed time,” Truss said. It was as if she had wilfully misunderstood the question. It wasn’t a matter of why she had taken so long to give an interview. More, why she had spoken out so quickly. Why not take some proper time out to reflect? Not just pile in three months after crashing the economy. Three months after blowing a hole in the public finances and causing interest rates to rise. Adding significantly to the cost of living crisis.
Surely the least we could expect was an apology. Think again. Librium Liz is not in the business of saying sorry. Rather, she was the one who was owed an apology. It was everyone else’s fault that there wasn’t the right governmental and financial infrastructure in place for her style of economics. There were commies close to the heart of No 10 who had been hellbent on making sure her tax reforms failed. There were militant leftwingers pointing out that disentangling the UK from the EU would lead to a 4% hit in GDP.
Then there was the Office of Budget Responsibility. They were all Bolsheviks dedicated to bringing down a free-market government. Nelson gently tried to steer Truss back to something approximating to reality. Wasn’t it the case that the government set its own fiscal rules and the job of the OBR was just to make sure Truss was meeting them? Librium Liz wasn’t having this. Her voice now so sedated it was almost hypnotic. Bending people to her will. Submission. The problem was that the OBR was too woke. It didn’t allow for fantasists like her. You could almost sense Nelson and Balls having to fight the urge to nod in agreement.
Truss did seem to admit to not knowing much about the markets. Other than that they too were manipulated by pinkos. There were socialists everywhere. Even at the centre of the Tory party. Someone should have told her that liability driven investments were agents of a Marxist state. It never once seemed to have occurred to her it might have been her job to predict the outcome of her own policies. That being prime minister meant taking responsibility. Or that the reason the markets tanked was down to her budget. Not that the budget failed because the markets tanked. She had little grasp of cause and effect.
On and on Librium Liz went. One non mea culpa after another. The cut in the 45p tax rate had been a good idea. Rishi Sunak should have loved it. The cut in corporation tax wasn’t technically a cut. Even though it was. The rise in interest rates was just an unfortunate coincidence. No one could possibly have foreseen it. She was right. Right, right, right. About everything. It was just the forces of socialist darkness who had been intent on bring her down. She would be redeemed. She was the Messiah. People would one day thank her, even as they were defaulting on their mortgages.
Surely it must have been a bit tough, Balls insisted. Truss paused. It was always tough being the only person who was right, she conceded. It had been tough for Kwasi Kwarteng. But tougher still for her to have to fire him. Would no one think of the pain she had been through? She had tried to build a New Jerusalem. One ruled by the rich and for the rich. She would be back. Her time would come again.
The Spectator duo tried to break Librium Liz down. To get one admission of remorse. One hint of humanity. Nothing doing. Nothing could get past the well-defended Truss psyche. She had said too much. She hadn’t said enough. Just her in the corner. Losing her religion.