Dead Woman Walking

During the Tory party conference, Liz Truss was described as ‘a dead woman walking’ by one of her colleagues. One wonders what she could be described as now – an ‘anti-prime minister’?

Throwing her chancellor under the bus, as if she were not his closest confidant, as if she did not approve wholeheartedly of his reckless budget, and then claiming the credit for bringing stability by sacking him and reversing his budgetary measures, is despicable. Her economic plan – dubious at the best of times (and these are not) – is in tatters. And yet, zombie-like, she carries on, as if her reputation is intact.

What purpose does Truss now serve? To say she is ‘out of her depth’ is a monumental understatement. By comparison, Theresa May was Churchillian. At least Boris Johnson made us laugh. For all his obvious faults, he had redeeming qualities. It seems that Truss has only one quality: shameless ruthless naked ambition.

Truss has long described Margaret Thatcher as her hero. Many of us would have difficulty in describing Thatcher as a conservative in the traditional Tory sense. She was a nineteenth-century laissez-faire liberal. Notions of community, tradition and mutual obligation were foreign to her. Everything could be left to the market.

But Margaret Thatcher was a political giant – and she believed in the principles of sound finance. The debate about the size of the state and the level of taxation is one to be had, but Thatcher would never have countenanced unfunded tax cuts.

Where do we go from here? Who will replace Truss?

The Tories are probably now ‘political toast’ whatever they do. But I have a suggestion.

I know he has been described as, and probably is, the Tories’ answer to Peter Mandelson, a ‘poison dwarf’, deceitful, backstabbing etc – but politically, philosophically, culturally, and intellectually, Michael Gove stands head and shoulders above the rest of them.

I listened in to an evening panel meeting at the Tory conference last week to discuss a new paper launched by the New Social Covenant Unit promoting ‘social capitalism’ and ‘communitarianism’, and aiming to strengthen ‘families, community, and nation’. Gove was on the panel and spoke with great eloquence, as well as being thoughtful, respectful, and generous to other panel members.

What stunned me, though, was his description of conservatism, and of how it differed from liberalism. He knew. Conservatism, Gove argued, might be described as lying between the statism of social democracy and the untrammelled laissez-faire of liberalism. There were times for both these others, but at the centre of conservatism lay the idea of community. Individualism, vital though that was, must be tempered by a shared civic identity, by obligations to community, and by tradition. Gove even spoke admiringly of De Gaulle as a conservative, and of what he had done for France.

It might have been Roger Scruton speaking. Who else in the current Conservative Party could get anywhere remotely near this?

The Conservative Party is in existential crisis. It desperately needs a philosophy around which it might unite. Why not conservatism?

Yes, he has his faults. But it’s Gove for me.

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10 Comments on Dead Woman Walking

  1. Events have surpassed the article and the commentary. What next? The Conservative party amalgamates with Billy Smarts circus with Johnson as the Ringmaster?
    If they can stop arguing long enough perhaps Messrs Tice, Farage, Clauston, and Fox can present a united front and complete the destruction of the ‘unfit for purpose’ party.

    • @ Noa
      Vanity is the chief problem, and ideological detail the second, with the minority mavericks, from Kilroy-Silk to John Tyndall.
      We need an economic policy that recognises that unilateral “free” trade is not the simple solution for a population-dense island nation whose position as workshop of the world and a global empire builder has been given to China.

  2. “He has his faults” – he does indeed, such as lockdown fanatisism and vaccine passes about which he consulted ‘digital id’ Tony Blair. He is an authoritarian conservative who favours the state against liberty. He may talk the talk but the walk is something quite different.

  3. I’ve disliked Gove since circa 1985, when I first saw him prancing around the Oxford Union bar in a kilt. It may be unfair to dislike a man without knowing him; but people who did know him detested him.

    Is Gove’s talk of traditional conservatism reflecting in his parliamentary voting record? I find it hard to connect traditional conservatism with enthusiastic support for “gay marriage”.

      • @ Daniel Goldstein
        True Toryism has been eroded by a combination of social and economic “liberalism”. The “race, gender, class” revolution, started in the US in the mid-1960s, has spread through our own institutions effectively unopposed at every stage with “Conservatives” endorsing and enforcing its effects as “Diversity, Inclusion, Equality”.
        Hunt has saved some economic bacon from conflagration for a while, but who will save England from cultural extinction for ever?

  4. Even Suella Braverman. Great conference speech. Whether she can do anything about the Channel remains to be seen, but the agenda was spot on and she is prepared to do whatever is needed. She is the only leading Conservative to push back against the ‘pro-immigration pro-growth’ lobby and sees it for the Ponzi scheme it is, causing outrage in India and shock at the Guardian. She also hates ‘woke’. In my book, this makes her the only Conservative worth considering.

    • Braverman’s resignation has a sting in the tail from a braver woman than the “Daily Mail”‘s choice for PM which swung the party membership vote now regretted by their hypocritical hacks.

  5. It looks like Truss will be gone within weeks. A pathetic figure. Even the Number 10 staff are talking openly about who will replace her.

    Tory MPs would never buy Gove. The favourite must be Sunak, who has been proved right big time. Labour will probably have a field day with a millionaire/billionaire toff representing the Tories, but he is Asian, which introduces a wild card element into what is otherwise a foregone electoral conclusion.

    • Will the financial donors have a major say? The “Daily Mail” has dropped its inane support for the Wooden Lady and is returning to its old insane sniping against the King and the Royal Family.
      Gove looks and sounds too odd, and although his analysis of the Woke Blob in education was sound enough, his efforts to deal with it were clumsy and counter-productive (like Hitchens’ demand for “grammar schools” whose teachers and curricula would have to be conjured out of thin air, like junior doctors – or Mussolini’s “sky filled with aeroplanes”).
      Recovery of Family, Tradition and Nation, in England but also in Sturgeonia, need knowledge, commitment, organization and funds.