Last week, on ITV’s This Morning, the cheerily rodentine Phillip Schofield and his margarine-moulded familiar, Holly Willoughby, offered a desperate member of the public the chance to have their energy bills paid at the whim of a gaudy spinning wheel of chance. Schofield is a cruel god, for whom we are mere flies, our sufferings simply sport. The former gopher handler fired up his roulette wheel of misery, taunting his victim with possibilities, as the viewer’s financial security in the punishing winter ahead hung in the balance. This tasteless fiasco was in fact the perfect prologue to the Liz Truss era. Pray, poor peasants, and spin the wheel! Life is a lottery! And you lost it the moment you were born! But why don’t we meet some of life’s winners?
Despite the fact that the new government is comprised largely of people who were born to win, the fates conspired to usher Truss into power in the most ridiculous way possible, the loser. On Tuesday, a coiled serpent cavalcade of Conservative Range Rovers slowly ushered Truss towards Downing Street as the heavens suddenly decided to open, like an old incontinent seer soaking his leggings as he scried what lay ahead for the nation. Outside No 10, trying to second-guess the weather, a pair of technicians ran backwards and forwards with the Ricky Gervais-style lectern from which Truss was to make her opening speech, as if the Chuckle Brothers had been booked as her warm-up act. “To me! To you! That’s it. A little more to the right. No. More to the right. To the right. Further. Further to the right. To the right! The right!”
Truss’s soggy rostrum was finally positioned in front of the door of No 10, with a bin bag placed on top of it to shield its upper surface from the rain. I sat with the kids and laughed at the bizarre sequence on the BBC that followed, doubtless shot deliberately by Marxists, where the caption “Liz Truss appointed prime minister” appeared for some time beneath an image of a crumpled black rubbish bag on top of a lectern. Damn the BBC! Whatever next? Jokes about politicians on comedy shows? A wet Nadhim Zahawi made a face. He once had a nice taxpayer-warmed stable out in the countryside. Truss could have made her speech there, all warm and dry, like his publicly heated horses.
Truss’s speech was the usual potpourri of lies, distraction, fantasy and disinformation we had come to expect from Tory politicians in the Brexit era, making her the perfect Boris Johnson continuity candidate. According to Truss’s nonsensical speech, Johnson delivered Brexit – except not in any form anyone would have wanted or recognised, and in doing so has crippled the economy and our reputation abroad; the energy crisis that predated the Urkaine conflict is “caused by Putin’s war” apparently, the 4% of energy we take from Russia providing the same useful fig leaf cover that Covid did for the Brexit damage; somehow, Truss will both cut taxes and increase public spending, to reward the hard work of the British workers she has previously described as “among the worst idlers in the world”. There was only one statement that rang true: “History will see [Boris Johnson] as a hugely consequential prime minister.” Yes, in the same way as my Premier Inn toilet bore witness to a “hugely consequential” lamb phaal I had last month in Birmingham.
Because no Tories with any integrity could back the disgusting Johnson or the unworkable Brexit, the party is purged of talent and Truss’s cabinet is composed of the indistinct particles of grey-green matter that get caught in the plughole when you wash up after an especially stodgy Sunday roast. Michelle Donelan, who wants to stop the study of the arts at university, is culture secretary; Brandon Lewis, formerly the Minister for Having His Sorry Ass Handed to Him on a Plate by Old Women Shouting at Him in the Street, is justice secretary; and a little bit of boiled potato with some gravy on it and a sprig of rosemary sticking out of the top is the minister without portfolio. Oh no, sorry, that’s Jake Berry.
The top table seems stuffed with ministers whom I think history will come to judge as genuinely evil; Suella Braverman, who said there would be no Brexit bill to pay for exiting the EU and no increased Brexit delays or Brexit disadvantages to business; Kwasi Kwarteng, formerly Johnson’s Golem-enforcer, who tried to bully the independent regulator Kathryn Stone into retiring last November for investigating Owen Paterson, unaware that CCHQ had already decided to throw the bent lobbyist under the bus; Jacob Rees-Mogg, who decries “climate alarmism” as a third of Pakistan drowns, with 1.4m hectares (3.5m acres) of crops and 800,000 livestock lost; and James Cleverly, who recently tweeted that he “liked Stewart Lee a lot better when he was funny”. To be honest, I am glad he has gone off me, as the 25 years where he would hang around all my shows asking me to sign his cock with a Sharpie were becoming tedious in the extreme.
Thérèse Coffey is the new deputy prime minister and health secretary. Anyone shocked by America’s sudden rolling back of abortion rights must be worried. We assume “It couldn’t happen here”, but Coffey has voted against the availability of abortion pills and against extending abortion rights to the women of Northern Ireland. However, Coffey has declared that she would “prefer that people didn’t have abortions but I am not going to condemn people that do”. And critics’ fears should be allayed by the announcement of the NHS Christmas abortion lottery. With reduced funds affecting basic services, Coffey has declared that on Christmas Eve Phillip Schofield will take to a makeshift stage in Trafalgar Square to spin another wheel of chance, making one woman’s dream of instantly available expert care a reality.