In addition to all Truss’ U-turns, there is another U which lingers over her premiership, she is unelected.
The Lady’s for U-turning
Despite Liz Truss’ desire to emulate her predecessor, the Iron Lady, now it appears her premiership is nothing but a smouldering ruin.
In a catastrophic turn of events, her former Chancellor and loyal supporter, Kwasi Kwarteng, was stripped of his post and replaced by Jeremy Hunt. Predominately remembered for his poor record on the NHS and the social care sector as the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Hunt has been given carte blanche in his new role. In a desperate attempt to keep the sinking Trussonomics ship afloat, Truss and Hunt engaged in self-inflicted crisis talks over the weekend, to try and weather the economic storm facing the United Kingdom this winter.
In a statement in the House of Commons on Monday 17th October, Hunt rescinded just about every promise and pledge that got Truss into No. 10 Downing Street. It was bad enough that Truss tore up several manifesto pledges which seen Boris Johnson and the Conservatives secure a government in December 2019; but to then proceed to tear up her own leadership manifesto pledges shows the lady is for turning, very quickly. Evidently, Trussonomics is a pale imitation of the Reaganomics which Margaret Thatcher’s government championed during the 1980s, a radical neo-liberal, laissez-faire fantasy which was not fit for purpose then and is certainly not fit for purpose now.
Taking a closer look at the changes announced by Hunt on Monday, GMB Union considers how these will impact our members and working-class families across Britain. Foremost, Hunt scrapped plans to reduce the basic rate of income tax from 20 percent to 19 percent in April next year, to save the Exchequer just shy of 5.3 billion pounds by 2023-24. Nonetheless, public services and social security are still expected to be cut considerably; as despite Truss confidently insisting at PMQs on Wednesday 12th October that she was ‘absolutely’ committed to no cuts to public spending, Hunt contradicted her on Monday, when he said ‘decisions of eye watering difficulty’ will be made.
Secondly, Hunt ditched plans for new VAT-free shopping for international tourists, as abandoning this scheme would save the treasury around 2 billion pounds per year. The fact a scheme was devised in the first place is enough to show that this Conservative government has no intention of supporting hardworking families. Through gritted teeth they have made yet another U-turn, abandoning part of their trickle-down economics which has been drowning the poorest and most valuable in our society for the last decade.
Most notably, Hunt cut short plans to support working class families with rising energy bills, from two years to just six months. At a time of economic uncertainty, perhaps the only policy from the recent mini budget which offered a slither of reassurance was seemingly torn up. Hunt said the government is committed to finding a ‘new approach’ with the intent of supporting those hit hardest; however, the past decade stands as a monumental contradiction to this assertion. If trickledown economics has not worked by now, it certainly is not going to anytime soon.
Finally, Hunt announced that the government will increase corporation tax from 19 percent to 25 percent in April 2023. This coupled with Truss and Kwarteng’s U-turn on the top rate of tax – from their planned 40 percent reduction which was restored to 45 percent - underscores the impracticality and insanity of her low-tax, high-growth economic reverie. Put simply, the harsh reality is the two cannot coexist. These neo-liberal fantasies have been at the forefront of Truss’ economic philosophy for many years, her co-authorship of Britannia Unchained (2012) is a worrying insight into the deregulated, Orwellian nightmare her and likeminded individuals wish to unleash on the United Kingdom’s economy.
When looking at the budget, there is no doubt that Truss and her new Chancellor are at opposite ends of the Tory economic spectrum. However growing pressure from the public and her own MPs has forced her to U-turn on several promises and pledges. Crucially, the country is now being governed by Hunt, who is a Prime Minster in everything but name, instead of Truss, who is a Prime Minster in name only.
Lastly, in addition to all Truss’ U-turns, there is another U which lingers over her premiership, she is unelected. The electorate did not have a say on whether they approve of Truss and her everchanging plans which are detrimental to the economy. Rather a small, narrowminded cohort of Conservative Party members have sealed the fate of the nation.
Ultimately, another Conservative budget has been and gone, with no help for hard-working families across Britain. GMB trade union stands by its members and the working classes, and continues to fight for a Labour government, which is needed now more than ever, to bring an end to this Tory catastrophe.
Neil Smith, Political Officer
Written and edited by Shaun Nash