Liz Truss, Labor Party, Andrew Mullet discussed on Monocle 24: The Briefing


Briefing on monocle 24, I'm Andrew mullet. Now, barring any outrageous shocks foreign secretary Liz truss will be anointed as the United Kingdom's new prime minister next week. She will face huge problems from day one, including tackling the country's energy crisis and soaring inflation after months of political inertia at the heart of Westminster. Well, let's get the latest now with Lance price who served as the UK's director of communications under Tony Blair, Lance now works for the opposition Labor Party. He joins me in the studio. Lance, first of all, the big question is there the remotest danger that the next prime minister of the United Kingdom and first lord of the treasury is not Liz truss. There's a very, very slight possibility, but it's so slight as to be almost undetectable on the sort of political radar. So I think we can be as confident as possible that Liz trusts as you say, the foreign secretary will be our prime minister in a week's time. One of your tasks is obviously going to be helping think about how to defeat her at the next election. So when you assess this trust from that perspective, what do you see as her strength and weaknesses? Well, you should never underestimate your opponents. And although the conduct of the Tory leadership election over the summer has given the opposition Labor Party that I now work for a huge amount of ammunition in itself, all we have to do is quote Tories back at Tories in order to undermine what she's been saying and in particular the economic proposals that she's been putting forward over the summer to try to win the Tory leadership election. Now, I've been in politics long enough to have some sympathy for people who say what they have to say in order to win the election that's right there in front of them. We have to remember that she's presently trying to appeal to an extremely niche electorate of a 160,000 insane retired brigadiers. That's your interpretation. I wouldn't be quite so cruel as that, but I see where you're coming from. Yes, I mean, at the moment, she's appealing to a segment of the population which is unrepresentative of the rest of us frankly. And it's more diplomatic in many ways. And obviously, she's been, well, it looks as if she's almost certainly been very successful in that and far more successful than Rishi sunak, who is a much more conventional centrist politician within conservative sort of terms. But she is going to face reality when she walks through the door of number ten and the officials come around her and say, look, things are a lot worse than you think they are. And a lot of the things that you've been floating during the leadership campaign simply aren't going to work. And the question is, she's a bit of a shapeshifter in politics anyway. She used to be a Republican. She's now a monarchist. She used to be a Liberal Democrat. She's now a Tory. She used to be a remainder. She's now a lever, and so no one really knows what the real Liz truss is, even though she tries to present herself as a sort of Margaret Thatcher style conviction politician she clearly isn't that unless unless your convictions can change faster than the weather. So that may play to her advantage, of course, because she may have shaped once again and listen to the sensible counsel and come up with much more sensible proposals than the ones that she's been floating during the campaign. Because it is fair to say, I was trying to think about this earlier that whether you sympathize with Liz truss or not and you clearly don't by conviction and a profession, but is it can you recall an incoming prime minister who has had quite this forbidding an intra? No, I don't think I can to be honest. It is the challenges are absolutely extraordinary and they would test the most talented and most skillful politician. Now maybe this truss is the most talented and most skillful politician that's yet to be to be proven. But it is a phenomenal challenge and it's not helped by the fact as you alluded to in your introduction that actually the government has sort of been asleep over the over the summer and there are conventions that say that you don't make big decisions when a new prime minister has been chosen because it's for that prime minister to make those big decisions and to determine the future direction of economic policy and so on. But the rest of us, the rest of the country have been looking at the prospect of the certainty of energy prices going up by 80%. That disposable income being slashed, the impact on not just on individuals. There's a lot of concentration on individuals, but the impact that that is going to have on businesses. Many of which are going to close. We're going to see a lot of business closures on schools on our hospitals. They all have to pay these energy bills. None of them are going to be helped by handouts or cuts in personal taxation to individuals. So the economy is heading for a massive, massive shock. And that would be a challenge for anybody coming in. All that being the case, how does the Labor Party play that? If we think that we are steering into what it's probably not an exaggeration to describe as a national crisis, is the role of an opposition at that point to absolutely whale on the government at absolutely every opportunity or do you try to do the actual constructive criticism bit because there is a risk, isn't there that you just end up looking like you're not helping that all you're interested in is maximizing your own position? Yeah, that's absolutely true. And it becomes more true the closer you get to a general election, and we are probably only 18 months or so away from a general election. So that's a crucial period in the electoral cycle anyway. Now it's perfectly legitimate for any opposition party to point out the reasons that we find ourselves in the mess that we're in. And not allow, for example, the Conservative Party and this trust to suggest that it's all down to Vladimir Putin and the invasion of Ukraine. And that somehow the British economy is fundamentally sound, were it not for that, because that isn't the case. But at the same time going forward, you do have to be able to show that you do have positive proposals of your own that are constructive that will be more effective than those that the government are being putting forward. And in the short term, I think secure stammer the leader of the Labor Party has done that over the summer with a proposal to freeze and home energy prices just through this winter. Now that's not a long-term solution. Of course it isn't and you have to put long term. You have to put long-term proposals in place as well. But the premise of your question is absolutely right, that you do have in this well at any time. But in this time in particular, to be able to show that you have got solutions of your own. Because there have been criticisms which you will obviously be aware of that secure style has been too quiet by half over the last few months. And is that, I mean, there's a couple of political conventional wisdoms that come into play there. One is that you don't offer up all your best ideas a year and a half from a general election because either the other mobile steal, the more by the time they come to vote everybody will forgotten you had them in the first place.

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