They both wanted to ignore the most important issue facing the UK this year – that’s what you need to remember about the two candidates for the Tory (and UK) leadership.
But now – especially after Boris Johnson copped out of taking any emergency measures before leaving office – Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak are being forced to come up with some ideas.
And the lack of imagination is palpable.
Truss has made her campaign all about tax cuts, so her plan is – guess what? – to cut taxes. She’ll have an emergency budget as soon as she takes office, reverse the rise in National Insurance contributions and suspend green levies on energy bills.
This will help the rich, not the poor who will struggle to cope.
The way national insurance works, the more you earn, the more a cut will benefit you.
Pensioners don’t pay national insurance – nor do unemployed people or those earning under £12,500. They will feel the impact of rising bills more than most, but they won’t feel the benefits of the tax cut.
Faced with these criticisms, Truss has backtracked on her determination not to give any more “handouts” to cover price rises. But she hasn’t provided any details of what else she might do, which suggests that this is a sop to the rest of us and she won’t actually do anything.
Bear in mind the video clip I mentioned yesterday, in which she was confronted with a series of policy failures and false statements that she has made in the past. This is her record, and it isn’t good.
Despite saying that Truss’s plan will leave “those who most need help out in the cold”, Rishi Sunak’s ideas are even worse!
His only pledge is to scrap VAT on energy bills.
His supporters say his response will depend on how energy bills change in the future – and that his record shows he can be trusted. This is doubtful.
In fact, Sunak’s record shows a history of failure to take action when it is needed, only doing so after being placed under a large amount of pressure.
Look at his Spring Statement, which did not help people with rising prices; he was forced to come back weeks later with more support – including caving in humiliatingly to Labour’s demand for a windfall tax on energy firm profits.
His furlough scheme during the Covid-19 crisis has also been mentioned – a scheme he was slow to extend towards the end of 2020 (he didn’t want it to continue at all).
Whatever happens to prices in the real world, the leadership contest has four weeks left to run in which no politician will lift a single finger to help.
And, based on the information we have so far, it is unlikely that any help they are willing to offer will do any good at all.
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