October 21, 2022

Liz Truss

Liz Truss said on Thursday she would resign as prime minister, brought down by her economic programme that sent shockwaves through the markets and divided her Conservative Party just six weeks after she was appointed. A leadership election will be completed within the next week to replace Truss, who is the shortest serving prime minister in Britain's history.” Reuters

Here’s our prior coverage of Truss’s economic plan. The Flip Side

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From the Left

The left is encouraged by Truss’s resignation and calls for a new election.

“The healthiest democracies are home to an electorate in which voters change their minds when the facts change, punishing governments who fail and rewarding those who succeed. But in most American presidential elections, virtually anyone with D or R next to their name can be assured of the support of at least 40 percent of the electorate. Had Truss been a politician in America, she’d still command that level of support… [Instead she] saw her approval ratings flirt with single digits before she was forced out…

“[When polarization reigns supreme] democracies stagnate, accountability disappears, and politicians can get away with anything… Truss will likely be remembered as the worst prime minister in history. But the speed with which she was chucked out is a positive sign for British democracy.”

Brian Klaas, The Atlantic

At the same time, “In Britain’s Parliamentary system, the government isn’t obliged to call an election when the Prime Minister falls. As long as it maintains a majority in the House of Commons, it can choose a new leader and govern until the next election…

“Right now, the Tories still have a comfortable majority in the House of Commons, and the next election doesn’t have to be held until January, 2025—more than two years away. That’s the constitutional situation, and, because the Conservatives are trailing Labour by about thirty points in recent polls, they have an incentive to play for time…

“But, once Truss goes, there can be no justification for failing to hold an immediate general election. Common sense, basic decency, and Britain’s reputation as a healthy democracy demand one. Most of all, the country desperately needs a competent and stable government… The Conservatives ‘do not have a mandate to put the country through yet another experiment; Britain is not their personal fiefdom to run how they wish,’ Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour Party, said after Truss’s announcement. ‘The British public deserve a proper say on the country’s future.’”

John Cassidy, New Yorker

“Even if you leave aside her political ineptitude and her embrace of voodoo economics, Truss was in an impossible position. So was Johnson before her, and so will be her successor. The Conservative Party is in power because it embraced populism, which turns out to be a good way to win elections but an impossible way to govern. In British politics these days, all roads lead back to Brexit…

None of the promised benefits of Brexit have materialized. In fact, Britain is having a harder time than E.U. countries in dealing with the economic shocks of the covid-19 pandemic and the Ukraine war. There are long lines at ports of entry that even stoic Britons find hard to endure. The country faces labor shortages, especially in areas such as agriculture and home health care — relatively low-paying jobs that used to be filled by workers from Poland, Romania and other E.U. countries… GOP leaders, pay attention.”

Eugene Robinson, Washington Post

From the Right

The right worries that Truss’s failures will make it harder for Britain to adopt supply-side reforms.

The right worries that Truss’s failures will make it harder for Britain to adopt supply-side reforms.

“Truss's very short tenure means that she leaves little in the way of a legacy. Her steadfast support for Ukraine and the associated ire this earned her from Russia is likely to be one positive, however… The U.S. may also come to regret Truss's departure. She was set to endorse a more robust U.K. stance in support of U.S. concerns over China…

“Yet, with two successive Conservative prime ministers now having fallen to scandal this year (Boris Johnson being Truss's predecessor), and opinion polls showing the Labour Party opposition with a 20-30 point polling lead, whoever replaces Truss faces an extraordinary challenge. The new prime minister must not only restore public trust and confidence. He or she will have to unify a Conservative parliamentary party that now exists in a state of open internecine war.”

Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

“Truss and Kwarteng mishandled their policy announcements. Badly. Kwarteng announced a supply-side strategy that focused heavily on tax cuts, with announcements on deregulation and spending to come. Yet at exactly the same time, he announced a massive new spending program aimed at alleviating the cost of energy-price increases to British households… What the markets saw was not a plan for growth, but a massive, unfunded fiscal stimulus at a time when inflation had reached double digits…

“One of the virtues of market economies is that they provide information that policy-makers need to react to. What the British crisis has shown is that swift supply-side reform is unfeasible there at the moment. An incrementalist approach is much more likely to succeed. Yet time for that is limited. As the ever-insightful Allister Heath says, when Labour comes into power, it will probably bring ‘the hard Left, the full gamut of punitive taxation, including of wealth and housing, and even more spending, culminating rapidly in economic oblivion.’”

Iain Murray, National Review

“Ms. Truss’s tax cuts lasted two weeks as a mere proposal and never even came to a vote in Parliament. She had told the Tory rank-and-file about her tax plans when she ran to succeed Mr. Johnson. The only surprise she offered in office was a cut in the top marginal income tax rate to 40% from 45%—about £2 billion in lost revenue in a year. Yet this supposedly was the nail that lost the shoe, that lost the horse, that lost the economy…

“Ms. Truss certainly mismanaged her policy rollout. She didn’t prepare the country or her party to sell tax cuts after a decade of Tory tax-and-spend politics…

“But Ms. Truss didn’t create Britain’s 10.1% inflation rate (blame the Bank of England), didn’t produce energy shortages and price spikes (blame the last two Prime Ministers), and didn’t fail to supervise pensions so they wouldn’t gamble to get higher returns. All of that was in motion before she took office… She is being made the scapegoat for the economic policy blunders that the ruling Conservatives have made over 12 years in power.”

Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

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