Whoever thought it would be a good idea for the UK’s least successful prime minister ever to give a lecture titled in honour of one of the country’s most successful (although both share one quality – they are hated)?
Perhaps the clue is in the title of the talk Liz Truss gave to the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC: The Margaret Thatcher Freedom Lecture. Thatcher was symbolic of many things but for the vast majority of people in the UK, freedom was not among them.
So whoever was responsible for the booking was either extremely stupid, or they had an extremely strong sense of irony.
And what did Truss do with the opportunity she was given? She used a lecture in the name of the leader who made the UK an engine for a (rotten) political movement to complain that she was the victim of a political conspiracy.
“There are people who work in businesses that invoice the government and they’re doing quite fine, thank you very much,” Truss said.
“All of those people are part of the resistance to change we need to see.
“And as prime minister, I simply underestimated the scale and depth of this resistance and the scale and depth to which it reached into the media and into the broader establishment.”
Truss complained further: “We didn’t just face coordinated resistance from inside the Conservative party or even inside the British corporate establishment. We faced it from the IMF and even from President Biden.
“The sad truth is what I think we’ve seen over the past few years is a new kind of economic model taking hold in our countries, one that’s focused on redistributionism, on stagnation and on the imbuing of woke culture into our businesses. I call these people the anti-growth movement.”
She spoke of a leftwing challenge to “core Anglo-American values” and the danger of “self-flagellation” via identity politics, critical race theory and “the whole debate about ‘what is a woman?’ These are all core beliefs that we have seen being undermined and I’m afraid there hasn’t been sufficient fight back … We need to be intolerant of intolerance.”
The former foreign secretary also devoted a chunk of her remarks to global affairs, calling for Ukraine to be given membership of Nato and for the west to take a tougher stand against China. She condemned Macron’s recent trip to Beijing to ask for support in ending the war in Ukraine as a sign of weakness.
Truss concluded her speech with a hint that she intends to remain in the political arena. “Last autumn I had a major setback but I care too much to give up on this agenda. I think it’s too important … Over the coming months I’ll be setting out ideas about how we together can take this battle forward.”
And what did Truss get for her words, beyond a polite ovation from an audience of Americans who may not have understood exactly how atrocious her 50-day term as prime minister was?
She got roasted.
Jon Sopel on the News Agents podcast, who said: “She complained about the fact that the deep state was blocking her mandate. What mandate?
“She hadn’t gone to the British people, she’d gone to the membership of the Conservative Party, less than 50% of whom had voted for her. She had not got the mandate of the country to do what she did and point two is she said the deep state blocked her from doing what she had wanted to do.
“If only the bloody deep state had, where was the deep state when we needed them to say ‘you’re not going ahead with that batshit crazy budget, are you?’ and they didn’t do anything!
“They let her do it, she did it all. She cut the taxes without saying where the money was going to come from, she helped the very wealthiest without any regard to everyone else and yet she dares to have the gall to say ‘the deep state blocked me’, are you shitting me?!”
Another social media commentator wrote: “Liz Truss was Prime Minister for 49 days and she made life materially worse for millions of people by driving their mortgages up. Her attempts to rehabilitate herself so soon are really quite nauseating.”
The condemnation has been (as far as I can tell) universal.
But has she buried herself for good, this time?
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