The Party’s Over
Or: it’s not dead, but it sure smells funny
Day 3 of the Hunger Gam… sorry, Conservative Party Conference, and all in the totally normal Kingdom of Panem is absolutely hunky dory, and not a clusterfuck binfire made of lava and homicidally angry wasps.
The day started totally normally¹, Truss gave yet another train wreck interview (of course she did, the day has a y in it), in hi vis and hard hat to dodge the bricks we’re all wanting to hurl at her, where she couldn’t categorically say she trusted her Chancellor², or his judgement.³
So far, so normal.
Jacob Rees-Mogg announced the building of a nuclear fusion reactor in Nottinghamshire, which would be wonderful except for the fact that no one has been able to get a self-sustaining fusion reaction to run long enough, or generate enough energy to make commercial fusion viable⁴. Sustainable fusion has been “10–20 years” away for at least half a century now, but let’s not let facts get in the way of a juicy bit of conference bullshit. I wonder if Jacob was wearing a conference lanyard today?
Suella Braverman expressed her “dream” that by Christmas we’ll “finally” be deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda. The arguments about the stupidity of the Rwanda policy are now well-worn and the Home Sectretary’s (Jesus, I KNOW) desire to “out-Priti” Priti Patel seem to have got off to the expected start. Then it turned out a thing she’d claimed to have contributed to as an author, turned out to been more of a beneficiary of her photocopier skills, so you wonder how reliable a narrator she is about … well, anything, really, especially when you consider what a fabulous job she did as Attorney General. And that was before her speech which blamed “leftists” for threatening police numbers, failing to mention how many police stations Conservative Prime Ministers have closed over the last twelve years, or how many fewer officers there now than in 2010. How dreadfully forgetful of her. Though forgetful possibly isn’t the word if you look like you been up all night on the angel dust, while cosplaying a sci-fi villain.
Then Kwarteng blamed the Queen dying for him being clueless, which is more than a bit unfair seeing as she can’t answer back. Not that she would have anyway. But then he understated his own malevolent ineptitude in dynamiting the UK economy and tanking the pound on international markets, “coincidentally” making a bunch of his hedge fund chums a packet in the process. The pound has only rallied a little since “the event” because the markets know that the Bank of England has promised significant interest rate rises at the next Monetary Policy Committee meeting. All of which has the wonderful effect of screwing most people’s mortgages. And because the housing market is basically a huge over-expanding bubble with many people already stretching to cover their housing costs, what could possibly go wrong there, eh?⁵
Then Michelle Donelan announced we’re going to ditch that pesky GDPR, and create our own beautiful British data protection regulations. All of which is going to be awkward if we want to do any business whatsoever with anyone in Europe, or indeed with anywhere else that aligns its data use rights with the EU.
Oh, and that’s without the idea of moving health care to an insurance-based system being floated around yet again, so they’re not even shy in hiding the idea of finishing off the job of asset-stripping the NHS they clapped through gritted teeth in 2020.
But all of this is happening in a conference environment where the atmosphere could be reasonably described as being in the garage with a 20 year old single malt, with the doors closed and Jag’s engine running. Poisonous doesn’t come close. Everyone seems to be at each other’s throats, with the likes of no-one’s favourite Tory Boy, Simon Clarke, siding with Braverman this morning about the reversal of the top rate tax cut⁶. Doing this, they fail to see that it’s not the presentation that’s the problem, but the fact that the idea itself is so unhinged that even many of the supposed beneficiaries don’t want it, and can’t see the point.
Even once friendly media are starting to turn, as they see that Truss (like pretty much the entirety of her team) is a liability. She is utterly unable to deal with any kind of questioning, and will happily throw others under the bus to do the job, as some of them are all too quickly finding out.
There were many valid criticisms of Theresa May, but mostly she was seen as a competent minister, who was on top of her ministerial briefs, pretty much in the “lawful evil” camp, for those who understand that kind of reference. Becoming Prime Minister was problematic for her for two reasons: she was useless in front of a camera, and the policy she was trying to enact was not possible within the political parameters of her own party’s ongoing delirium. Her problem was the delusion she could reconcile those positions.⁷. Truss is equally at sea with thinking on her feet in front of an audience or a camera, but she can’t even claim competence as a virtue. Her reputation in ministerial jobs has been one of quite outstanding mediocrity. But here she is, “leading” a party that is divided. Most of her own MPs didn’t choose her, and the only reasons the rank and file went for her were the “reanimation of Thatcher” angerwank fantasy (bolstered by all those risible photo-ops), and the fact she was slightly more palatable than the alternative, for who knows what reason.⁸
Which means that the leader’s speech will be a stage managed applause fest, as it always is, but everyone in that hall, or watching from a distance will know it’s a lie. A leader, and a party, currently less popular than having a rectal prolapse will lumber on, possibly now having to face backbenches who are starting to sniff that they have real influence,undercut by fear that many of them are looking at having their parliamentary careers wiped out if current polling data is to be believed.
Some people⁹ are not just talking in terms of electoral defeat, but about full-blown civil war inside the Conservative Party, The impression is of many at the conference weary and exasperated by the ongoing assault on our collective sanity over the last few years. A long, protracted Tory civil war is a thing the country cannot afford, however, as the structural problems we face in terms of energy security, trade, international reputation, and huge societal inequalities can no longer be denied. We are a society on the verge of breakdown, and the prevailing orthodoxy of the Conservative right is catalysing it. They must be stopped.
So, let’s hope that Truss ‘s speech is the disaster we are all expecting it to be, to hasten things along, because things need to change, and soon, for all our sakes.
¹ Cue that mental puncture of Truss at a lectern wibbling, “I know!”
² Though later on in the afternoon, she said she does, definitely, honest, and no take-backs this time.
³ There are many reasons not to trust Kwasi Kwarteng’s judgement. Just saying…
⁵ Unless you’re deeply cynical and start to wonder whether forcing banks to close on mortgages will create a lot of very cheap property for some extremely wealthy people to mop up afterwards. But you’d have to be extremely cynical to think that, wouldn’t you?
⁶ You just know, if he’d gone to your school, he’d be the kid who: a) turned up with a briefcase, b) always showed up in full uniform on a dress-down day, c) always had a note from mummy for PE saying her little darling had a delicate chest and needed to be excused. Except he didn’t go to a school like most of us. Privately educated Simon wouldn’t slum it with the proles. He’s basically like Will from the Inbetweeners, only even more of an insufferable, self-satisfied bellend. You may be able to guess that I am not a fan.
&6 You could say some of the same things about Gordon Brown, most particularly about his media skills.
⁸ You may have your own theories. I certainly do.
⁹ Some of whom have been in Conservative administrations in the past.