‘Off with their heads’: The queenly Liz Truss

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL September 15, 2022

In the days after Queen Elizabeth II’s passing, the woman with aspirations to a steely reign over Britain has been busy. Prime Minister Liz Truss allowed, nay, possibly encouraged or instigated Tom Scholar’s sacking as permanent secretary at the Treasury. And her new chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, indicated that cash-strapped Britain was looking to scrap the cap on bankers’ bonuses, which was put in place after the 2008 global financial crash.

Classy, that?

Government by fiat?

The imperial sweep of Ms Truss’s actions and intentions are being closely watched for all that the avalanche of royal coverage has blanketed everything the British government is saying doing.

Mr Scholar (or Sir Tom, to give him his proper title) is an experienced and well-regarded civil servant. He got the chop just weeks after Ms Truss hit out at “Treasury thinking” in her Conservative Party leadership campaign. She is rumoured to have personally ordered the sacking in a move designed to signal that the government will brook neither naysayers nor negativity about its plans.

Senior former civil servants are in full cry. In a letter in The Times, London, former Education and Home Office permanent secretary David Normington said Ms Truss and Mr Kwarteng had “sent a clear message to the civil service that they are not interested in impartial advice and intend to surround themselves with ‘yes’ men and women”.

Former civil service head Bob Kerslake told The Guardian that Sir Tom’s removal was “pretty disgraceful” and a “retrograde and worrying” step as the British government shifted towards a “new way of behaving” in which it no longer wanted to hear impartial advice.

Perhaps, that’s not wholly surprising.

As Lewis Carrol tells us in ‘Alice in Wonderland’: “The Queen had only one way of settling all difficulties, great or small. ‘Off with his head!’ she said, without even looking around.”