Liz Truss and the best of British robotic libertarianism

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL October 11, 2022

Say the name “Liz Truss” now and the two words convey a world of meaning. Misgovernance, missteps, miserliness towards the poorest and most vulnerable. But most importantly, one woman’s name has come to signify the best of British robotic libertarianism.

Some of this may be unfair but perception is a funny thing. Impressions are like Topsy, they just “growed”. It is not anyone’s doing (but Ms Truss) that just five weeks into the job, she has hit a new low for the governing Conservative Party, her favourability  now below Boris Johnson’s rock bottom.

‘Bloomberg’ Opinion’s graph is below, but the Opinium poll from ‘The Observer’ also has Liz Truss’ net approval rating at -47, “even worse than those recorded for Boris Johnson at the height of the Partygate scandal.”

There’s a reason the impressions just “growed”. Ms Truss’s government  uncapped banker bonuses, handed tax cuts to the prosperous and now seems laser-focussed on cost cuts rather than investment.

By roiling the markets, which sent mortgage interest rates soaring, Ms Truss is making the Conservative Party’s traditional voters feel very poor and start to think the party may not really be as right for the aspirational as it claims.

In the so-called “red wall” seats, traditional Labour-voting northern constituencies that Boris’s Conservatives won in December 2019, the electorate is going to suffer as the average monthly cost of a two-year mortgage rises unaffordably.

The young, already narked off by Ms Truss’s apparently anti-environmental stance, will be even more annoyed by the fact the Tories seem to be making housing even less attainable.

There’s more. Ms Truss’s government seems unrepentantly libertarian in its instinctive positions, rather than small “c” conservative.

Like sections of the Republican Party in the United States, the Truss wing of the Conservative Party seems to think it common sense to rescind a sugar tax on food and drinks in order to combat obesity. To some it feels like an earlier, unreconstructed approach to freedom – akin to Donald Trump wanting to roll back environmental protections and do away with clean air and clean water provisions. Some analysts say the Truss approach seems almost as antediluvian as the era of opposition to compulsory seat belts in cars and public smoking bans.

This approach to freedom and liberty has led Ms Truss to reject requests that her government inform the British people about common sense energy-saving measures, just as other European countries are doing. But she is said to oppose this, just as she does the nanny state, something that has energy industry leaders and analysts shaking their heads in wonder. They point to California, where a solid public information campaign helped avoid blackouts during the recent heat wave.

The unfortunate reality is that one woman’s name has come to signify the best of British robotic libertarianism.