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  • Mal McCallion

Truss Tussles Truth




Liz Truss is back!

 

She’s got a book to promote and a history to rewrite.

 

For those who have missed her, she’s been claiming that the ‘mini-budget’ that she and sidekick Kwasi Kwarteng launched in November 2022 – you’re probably at least familiar with the catastrophic hit to mortgage rates that her uncosted proposals wrought – wasn’t the cause of this mess after all. No, it seems that something like the ‘deep state’ was instead responsible, possibly in cahoots with Rishi Sunak and the Labour Party.


And the Bank of England.


And the Office for Budget Responsibility.


Perhaps you? Probably me.

 

Knowing the impact that her kami-Kwasi budget had on estate agent pipelines – transactions suddenly failing, carefully constructed chains collapsing – and on homeowners, whose fixed rates had the misfortune to need renewing in the months afterwards, it’s difficult to dispassionately review her re-entry into the UK’s public discourse. The revisionist tendencies of Britain’s shortest-serving Prime Minister are striking – the reason she didn’t last as long as a lettuce was because her policies were the equivalent of trying to secure a massive loan without wanting to say how she was going to pay it back.

 

Is her argument that rates would have had to rise anyway plausible? To an extent - rates have risen everywhere. But these have been in a more controlled fashion, with a respect for institutions that exist to soften the blows of macro-movements, shielding individuals and economies from dramatic, systemic shocks. No other country took the hit that we did, as suddenly as we did. And that was because Truss and Kwarteng deliberately sought to avoid effective oversight, the policy equivalent of a toddler putting its fingers in its ears and shutting its eyes so it doesn't have to hear about consequences.


As a result the market - which Truss had hitherto been proud to insist always knows best - acted in its best interests and ran to the hills, taking its lower rates with it. This was not an unforeseeable outcome.


The worry is that, with Truss’s re-arrival this week, we fall deeper into a world where objective truth can be bent to accommodate the shrill sounds of those with an outsize platform. It feels like we’re in a state of perpetual perplexity, where things that seemed pretty obviously ‘bad’ are now being skewed into ‘but maybe we ought to give it another go …?’

 

Here’s hoping that we start to move more towards stability and sustainability from a policy perspective once the next Election is over - whatever the outcome. Until then, we’re going to have to wear the spectacle of evermore outlandish claims from those unable to accept their responsibility for clear harm to those around them.

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