Somewhere in the multiverse, Liz Truss is still Prime Minister, and we’re all celebrating her first anniversary. What is it like living in Trussland?
By now the karaoke has been installed in No. 10. The Prime Minister hasn’t been spotted in the Commons for several weeks, if not months, citing the unfortunate death of just-closely-related-enough-to-be-plausible family members. That’s assuming the aides who keep track of which aunts have been killed off are still working for her (can you duck the Commons for a second-cousin? What about a great aunt?). That won’t stop Truss making an appearance at the anniversary sing along, though. Nothing like some big eighties ballads to celebrate your first year in office: Patience. Careless Whisper to the Markets. Totals Eclipse in the Polls.
Maybe Kwasi will turn up to sing Don’t Dream it’s Over.
It will presumably be a subdued affair, other than that. After all, Boris did rather throw the party to end all parties. Instagram might be enough — so long as her aides haven’t locked her out of the account by then (aides who aren’t under investigation, that is). No doubt there will be a photo shoot with some entirely-not-Thatcherite outfit that everyone can gawp at. Luckily with Rishi, we only have to worry about whether he’ll be wearing a short inside leg or a regular next season.
At least the press will have had a good time. Just think of the jokes we’ve missed! The day a wet lettuce crashed the markets. Not so much Black Monday as Salad Sunday! Trussite economics? Trussed up more like! Has anyone seen the Chancellor? No — he’s gone Hunting for the Prime Minister.
Oh, and we could all have watched that clip of Truss talking about cheese again.
Imagine those ham-fisted Guardian cartoons full of inverted snobbery
Truly, we have missed not just a mockable Trussite jamboree but a golden age of satire — a throwback to the early noughties days of Have I Got Dead Ringers for You making all the same jokes about George W. Bush. Imagine those ham-fisted Guardian cartoons full of inverted snobbery, about as satirical as a jar of peanut butter. It would have been like the eighties again, the great days of Spitting Image, only without the colossal economic growth, strong wage improvement and the general sense that everyone was arguing about things that really mattered.
We shouldn’t joke. In Trussland, economic policy seemed to promise stagnation, inflation, high interest rates, a mortgage crisis, NHS incapacity and no sense that any plan the government might propose could ever pass the Commons. What place has satire got when we were saved from so many horrors by getting rid of her? Don’t rock the boat when it’s finally been turned into a steady ship.
The real anniversary present would have been a once-in-a-generation housing reform policy, rather than a national week of self-loathing and embarrassment. That was never on the table, nor anything like it. The real delusion of Trussland was to think that anyone wanted to change anything.
Truss was politically hapless, but she was also the Tory party’s sin eater. Whilst the modern Tory squirearchy wheezed and drooped to a slow electoral death, Truss sat at the foot of the bed, clearing the way to heaven. The Tories were busy like so many Napoleonic landowners, refusing to deregulate to even match France’s ability to build infrastructure, put up new houses or approve new projects. Truss is the ghost of failures past in Westminster this week. These ghouls still lurk in the shadows, as real as ever, guffawing at the satires we will write about Truss, little realising that satire is a glass, as Jonathan Swift said, where the beholder sees everyone’s visage but his own.
Whatever Truss had tried to do, however badly she had continued to pursue her agenda, she would have been blocked by this intransigent brigade of Nimbys and Ultras. Boris’s uncomfortable coalition can only agree on one policy: do nothing.
Before you begin to laugh too grimly at what a farce those forty-four days were — and how much worse they might have got — look around. Look at the Tory party backbenchers. The real joke is lurking back there.
And the joke is on us.
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