My memory of interviewing Liz Truss on television is of being talked over. Lots of politicians do not answer the question alas, but they usually give the semblance of paying some attention to the issue at hand. Not Truss. She simply said what she wanted to say in strident tones on the paranoid assumption that any question would be hostile. 

The only other similar interviewee I can recall is Donald J Trump, back when he was a golf course proprietor and denying political ambition. The consistent thing about both Truss and Trump is not what they say but the way that they say it. 

In her latest ideological manifestation, Truss is a “Conservative” in the sense that a US think tank would use the word, rather than a traditional British Tory. She once supported remaining in the EU and served happily for ten years as a minister in six departments. Now she rails against what she has called the “deep state”. She complains that bureaucratic power has passed from elected politicians to “quangos and an activist civil service”. 

Angus Reilly, who secured an advance copy of Truss’s forward-looking memoir to review for Reaction, says the former Prime Minister now espouses “an aggressive form of libertarianism, couched in culture war rhetoric”. 

The rest of us have had to make do with extracts serialized in the Mail until today when Ten Years to Save the West is published in the UK. Truss plans to bring her book out in the United States as well. 

Of even greater interest is that the UK’s shortest-ever serving Prime Minister – she managed just 49 days in Number Ten – thinks she still has a political future. With her customary mixture of self-confidence and absence of self-awareness, she told The Sun’s Harry Cole: “I rule nothing out”. Truss was speaking to Cole in one of several online interviews she has recorded with “Conservative-leaning journalists” to plug her book. She also spoke to Andrew Pierce of the Mail, Iain Dale of LBC. Nigel Farage of GBNews and Fraser Nelson, the editor of The Spectator. 

What can we deduce from her various media appearances?

When she was Prime Minister, Truss says she felt like “the only Conservative in the room” at G7 meetings. The British Conservatives need “a bigger bazooka” to “take on the economic establishment and deliver change”. She would like to see Nigel Farage join the Conservative party. She co-founded the Popular Conservatives, or “Pop Cons” with Lee Anderson and “regrets” that he has now defected to Reform. She and her interviewer Harry Cole last socialised at Farage’s 60th birthday bash.

Truss hopes that Trump will be re-elected to the White House. She is proud of her participation in the recent CPAC conference where she shared a platform with Steve Bannon, a conservative strategist, pardoned by President Trump on corruption charges. 

In her 2024 edition, Truss has adopted a British version of much of the American alt-right agenda. She is opposed to “greenery, wokery and economic socialism”.

Sometimes her stances are confusing. She says that “democratically elected ministers should be responsible for managing fiscal and monetary policy” but that this does not mean “chancellors setting interest rates”. 

She is most obviously out of step with Trump’s Republican party on defence. She boasts of the strong backing she gave to Ukraine when Foreign Secretary yet, across the Atlantic, $60 billion of aid for Ukraine remains held up in Congress, with Republican lawmakers refusing to approve the extra funding. Truss warns that “If we don’t get our act together”, the West will be overwhelmed by the authoritarian regimes of China, Russia and Iran within ten years. She maintains that President Trump would fully support NATO, despite his repeated threats to pull out of the alliance altogether.

She argues that the lesson of her failed government and the market turmoil brought on by the mini-budget which she concocted with her friend and Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng is that the forces ranged against them were too great. “I don’t think there was another way” she insists. She cheerfully recalls that her husband Hugh told her to “go for it” and stand for the Tory leadership while simultaneously predicting it would “all end in tears”. 

She always finds others to blame, usually the Governor of the Bank of England or the OBR. If Andrew Bailey had warned her about the exposure of LDI pension schemes she claims she would not have “driven into a massive iceberg”.

Her current solution for a return to proper Conservative government is to reverse the “Blairite” institutional take-over: abolish the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) and the Supreme Court; leave the European Convention of Human Rights (which she erroneously says dates only from the 1990s); repeal the Human Rights, Equality and Climate Change Acts; and sack Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey immediately.

To an outsider, Truss’s ideas today sound as half-baked as her short-lived premiership. Dispensing with guard rails was what brought her administration down. The markets did not believe that she and Kwarteng were right that the UK economy could sustain an extra £30 billion pounds of unsecured borrowing and that the BoE, OBR and Tom Scholar, the top Treasury civil servant she sacked – as well as the IMF and President Biden – were all wrong. 

She is in no mood to grant the nation “the period of silence” once recommended by the great Labour Prime Minister Clement Attlee. The book and her interviews around it amount to an attempt at a comeback. So far it is working. Liz Truss is getting another hearing – at least in Conservative circles.

Former Labour leaders tend to fade away when their time is done. Blair and Brown are in low profile charitable activity. Ed Miliband is a middle-ranking member of the Shadow Cabinet. 

This millennium’s failed Conservative prime ministers are lingering like the proverbial bad smell. David Cameron has been given a second chance as Foreign Secretary. Boris Johnson won’t rule out another run for parliament. Truss is standing for re-election as MP for Norfolk South-West. 

She likens her situation to “1974”. This rather gnomic observation is presumably a reference to Harold Wilson’s return as Prime Minister after four years in opposition. 

Unlike Wilson, Truss is not still the leader of her party, which, in her case, is on course for opposition rather than about to emerge from it. She is working to a longer time frame for her renaissance. She intends to be a player, and perhaps a contender, in the Conservative leadership contest that will take place after an anticipated defeat in the general election. After all, these are the people – the party members and MPs – who chose her as leader and prime minister in the first place. 

Laughable? Stranger things have happened in conservative politics recently on both sides of the Atlantic. 

As with her new hero Trump, the only sure way Truss can be stopped is by the voters. Back in 2010, she was imposed on the constituency from David Cameron’s “A list” in spite of mutterings from the so-called “Turnip Taliban” about her colourful private life. 

In 2019, She was re-elected with a massive 26,195 majority, a 69 per cent vote share. According to the latest Sunday Times there are inklings of discontent with her again among some shire Tories. It’s up to you, denizens of South West Norfolk!

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