New Prime Minister Takes Power

– Workers' Weekly –

Demonstration greets new Prime Minister outside 10 Downing Street, September 5, 2022.

On September 5, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss secured the leadership of the Conservative Party, and hence became Britain's new Prime Minister. On September 6, Boris Johnson tendered his resignation to Queen Elizabeth II at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. Liz Truss kissed the Queen's hand and was invited by her to form a government.

As a student at Oxford University, Liz Truss was President of the Oxford University Liberal Democrats and stood for ending the monarchy. She went out of her way in this election and post-election to say that she campaigned as a Conservative and will rule as a Conservative. This is diversion because the past she is not putting behind her is her yeoman's service as a warmongering Foreign Secretary and that she is staying the course despite the disasters Britain's neo-liberal policy has brought about, both at home and abroad.

Truss's win was less than spectacular. She garnered the support of fewer Conservative members than any of her predecessors. Under the party's current leadership rules, introduced in 1998, those participating in the election were only the fully paid-up members of the Conservative Party, numbering, it is said, little more than 160,000. In prevailing over contender Rishi Sunak, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Truss received 81,326 of these votes amounting to 57 per cent of the votes cast. This is a smaller percentage than those of her predecessors Iain Duncan Smith, David Cameron and Boris Johnson who won 61, 68 and 66 per cent respectively, which did not help their claim to speak on behalf of the people of Britain much either.

In the ongoing crisis of the anachronistic liberal democratic institutions in Britain, to have the decision of who should be Prime Minister of Britain made by roughly 0.2 per cent of the population of the UK deepens the crisis of legitimacy in which these institutions are mired. That the Prime Minister in no way speaks for the people and is not seen to represent their claims on society is more glaringly apparent than ever. Tory Party chief executive Darren Mott went so far as to write a response to the media newsroom Tortoise that the Party "does not carry out public functions." The election was "a private matter for the members of the Party," Mott wrote, adding that the appointment of the Prime Minister is a matter for the sovereign, not the Party!

The viciousness of the campaign demonstrated, should demonstration be needed, that the Conservative Party is a sorry excuse for a Party. There is nothing modern about it. It has no defined political line or mechanisms for sorting out differences within its ranks. Character assassination and boorishness marked the campaign and continued in the public exhibition over who should be appointed by Truss to her Cabinet. Former Home Secretary Priti Patel resigned by means of a tweet while Boris Johnson was still Prime Minister. The Conservative Co-chair, Ben Elliot, also quit just hours after the result was announced. As expected, Truss's new cabinet excludes the main backers of her rival Rishi Sunak.

London rally June 18, 2022 declares Enough Is Enough!

This government is crisis-ridden because it serves narrow private interests, and the institutions are incapable of dealing with the demands of history at this time which are for peace, freedom and democracy, not governments of police powers which commit crimes against the peace and against humanity, and destroy whatever they cannot control. The more power is concentrated in executives which are out of the reach of the people, the more the people feel the absence of their own political power. Already Truss has announced a crackdown on unions in the coming period which will certainly not go over well either. The Communication Workers' Union, among others, pointed out that Truss becomes Prime Minister with the backing of less than the threshold she plans to require for unions to be able to call a strike.

On the issue of the north of Ireland, in the context of the Irish people's striving for unity and independence, it is clear enough that a political solution will not be entertained and the demands of the people will continue to be treated as law and order problems. History has already condemned the British state for this, many times over.

Underscoring the failure of the sanctions against Russia and the resultant energy crisis -- for which the British in lock-step with the U.S./NATO alliance are responsible -- Truss vowed she will tackle the energy crisis "once and for all." Households will save £1,000 a year under an energy bills price freeze, she said. This has done nothing to mitigate the mass rallies and demonstrations taking place across Britain and all of Europe demanding the energy crisis be resolved by ending the sanctions against Russia.

Truss's tenure as Foreign Secretary shows that the narrow private interests she serves will stay the course of fueling brinkmanship, warmongering and disinformation while attacking the claims of the working class and immigrants at home. Truss pledged her readiness to use nuclear weapons and, according to reports, her first act as Prime Minister will be to write "Letters of Last Resort" for the commanders of Britain's nuclear-weapons-carrying submarines. Truss also committed to keeping Britain's Trident nuclear submarines and to boosting military spending to three per cent of GDP by 2030.

These attempts to unite the military in Britain are bound to fail because they are hollow. Cobbling all her pledges together do not make a nation-building project by any stretch of the imagination. They merely underscore the anarchy and violence which are the result of the nation-wrecking agenda of the international financial oligarchy of which various contingents are British, each seeking to make a killing on the basis of expediency.

Truss's exhortations are in vain. They indicate that Britain's crisis is so profound, the ruling class has been incapable of finding a champion who can rally the ruling class itself, let alone the people of Britain.

Truss is known for bypassing the old forms of political decision-making and attempting to foster the illusion of a personal connection between those in power and the electorate. The people find out what she is up to through tweets. Furthermore, her declaration that she campaigned as a Conservative and will govern as a Conservative confirms that she will give the problems the people face short shrift. 

Her repetition of "We will deliver" at the end of her first speech, without saying what it is that the government will deliver, is another ominous sign. Tony Blair on winning the 2001 general election famously said that he regarded the result as an "instruction to deliver." He appointed deliverologist Michael Barber to head his "Delivery Unit." It delivered the privatization of health care and the jobs of the civil service along with the destruction of manufacturing, social programs and public infrastructure. Former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's dictum that there is no such thing as society prevails as working people experience the rules set by the ruling elites, which are stacked against them.

Internationally, Truss has been adept at making enemies, particularly in the European Union, prompting the spokesperson of the German ruling party to say: "But anyone who believed that things could not get any worse after Johnson is being proved wrong. Many of Truss's statements are unfortunate or wrong." It was only in August that Truss, in her role as Foreign Secretary, launched legal proceedings against Brussels over the delay in granting the UK associated status in Horizon Europe, the EU's flagship research program, which Brussels has put on hold until issues related to the Northern Ireland Protocol have been resolved. Legislation to overturn the Northern Ireland Protocol, which the Johnson government had duly signed in negotiations with the EU, is still passing through the British parliament.

What is certain is that the legitimacy of an outdated political system cannot be salvaged. No matter what actions the Liz Truss government undertakes, its dysfunctionality has become a permanent feature. It is no good whistling in the wind and believing that everything will be business as usual. Failure is bound to be her legacy as it was with Boris Johnson, whose sense of entitlement brought the British institutions to their knees. Her election in no way lends the office of Prime Minister credibility, nor indeed will it lend any legitimacy to Westminster cartel party rule.

The response of the working people of Britain is ringing out loud and clear: Enough Is Enough! The people's movement for democratic renewal in which people empower themselves is emerging as the necessity. Liz Truss's election may well be one of the spurs that will tip the balance.

This article was published in
Volume 52 Number 9 - September, 2022

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