United Kingdom: Liz Truss’ right turn opens a split in the Conservative Party between moderates and radicals | international

The message was clear to its recipient, although Liz Truss blurred it in last Wednesday’s letter. When Britain’s new prime minister spoke to party members at the annual Conservative conference, desperately trying to salvage a government that was barely a month old and already showing signs of collapse, she wanted to point out the common enemy. He called it the “anti-growth coalition.” All forces conspired, she said, so that the UK economy would not advance and the economic plans presented by the new Downing Street team collapsed. The opposition included Labour, Liberal Democrats, Scottish nationalists, trade unions, critics, special interests, environmentalists… and Brexit deniers.

The internal split created by the 2016 referendum in the party, when a majority of Britons supported leaving the European Union, removed all those conservatives with a moderate and centrist vision from power once and for all. An extreme right, neoliberal and anti-European group dominated the formation. Boris Johnson used it, and allowed himself to use it for political prosperity. Behind him, Trus, raised this flag with the fanaticism of mutants. But at the worst of times. With a country in recession, suffering from an acute cost-of-living crisis, which, according to all opinion polls, has resoundingly turned its back on conservatives.

“This is a more divided and divided party than I have historically known,” Timothy Kirkhop regrets in his resignation. Loyal to his party to the end, this week he actively participated in the debates around the Conservative Conference. From his seat in the House of Lords, he is still fighting legislative attempts by the government to undermine his relationship with Brussels. He knows he is “the last of the Mohicans,” but feels that his party can only resurrect if he returns to the path of moderation. The general idea was that once Boris Johnson was gone, the leader who replaced him would extend a hand of friendship to all those who had been marginalized under Johnson, to create as broad an alliance as possible, as the citizens demanded. However, I fear what Truss did was to borrow his predecessor’s instruction manual and distribute the pamphlets, with a narrower view, among his followers. He has succeeded in alienating those who backed his rival in the primaries, Rishi Sunak, and those who do not share his far-right vision. “What we finally have is three or four party streams facing each other,” Kerhope says.

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These currents have always been latent. Moderates, moderate Europeans, social conservatives or neoliberal masters with a deep anti-EU vision. Johnson leaned on the latter and ostracized the rest. Well, he took them away from the party, well, he turned them into springs (Literally, MPs are in the back seats). No one can question the prime minister’s electoral request. So stop getting it. Johnson’s collapse put the Conservatives in front of the mirror of defeat. After 12 years in power, polls have suggested a change of course. Work has strengthened an increasingly resounding advantage. The majority of members who ran in last August’s party primaries clung to Truss, his promise of tax cuts, his neoliberal rhetoric and vague resemblance to Margaret Thatcher in the dream of a comeback.

She doesn’t have the ability to handle this entire storm. He does not have the necessary political vision. It’s not Margaret Thatcher. We may need someone like Thatcher now. But, of course, this person is no gear. Rosalind Stewart belongs to the Trade Policy Group of the European Conservative Forum. She has been subordinate for decades to the formation that, according to her, has the best answers to problems arising in a country like the United Kingdom, she blames Truss for driving the Conservatives into a damned labyrinth and doubts the Prime Minister will reach further. birthday.

“I guess he’s totally stuck in a damned loop. Quartz quartang can’t be thrown off [el ministro de Economía, tan convencido de la rebaja de impuestos como la propia Truss, y el primero en rectificar para calmar a los mercados] And he blames him for the mistakes, because she was completely involved in it. She cannot undo the announced package of measures, because apart from direct energy bill assistance, this has been her only policy so far. He can’t call an election, as Johnson did, because he would surely lose it. So we’re all stuck in the same loop,” Stewart laments.

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Not everyone has such a negative view of gear. A political party has a sect, and its members try before entering the stage in which they spend each other to avoid drowning. In theory, the prime minister is not obligated to call a general election for another two years. This is with the perspective indicated by the recent polls YouGov Giving Labor a 33-percentage point lead — the last thing anyone in the party wants is an early election.

“message problem”

“It was not one of the most optimistic conferences I have attended. But the Prime Minister deserves to be allowed to try to implement her policies and to have time to get the message across to the community. I think he is starting to make that happen at this conference,” explains Daniel Hamilton, Conservative adviser in Wandsworth (London). ), a candidate for Parliament for the constituency of Stockport and a regular at the Conservative Party’s annual secret meetings for 23 years. Truss made it clear early on that she was a very low-tax conservative. She was quite honest about her position and her expectations,” says Hamilton, who remembers “that the party is frustrated by the increase in public spending due to the pandemic and the current level of taxation, which is much higher than people would like.” There is consensus on the need to lower taxes. It has been the problem for the past two weeks when it comes to getting the message across,” he admits. Above all, the unpopular idea of ​​scrapping the 45% rate cap for top-entrants — “probably not the smartest political message” — that the president had to Ministers to back it down in the face of growing rebellion among the deputies.

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The general feeling was that the Conservative Party, bent on cutting taxes and cutting services to balance the budget and control debt, had once again become the party. bad party (The Ugly, Unpleasant Party) from the austerity years of David Cameron’s government, after the 2008 financial crisis. “If there is such a fear, it is the product of a misunderstanding. If you look, for example, the Direct Assistance package for homes and businesses to meet gas and electricity bills is one of the most generous in all of Europe. This government wants to help the people,” Hamilton defends.

Truss, like other political figures before her, has shown so far that she is only right when she corrects. Notable members of the party that the prime minister decided to sideline in the new phase, such as former ministers Michael Gove or Julian Smith – one pro-Brexit, the other against, but both representatives of moderation – were promoters of rebellion against tax cuts for the rich or the government’s will. By not updating benefits and social assistance to the level of inflation. They have made clear that their loyalty is first to themselves and their constituents, not to a prime minister in quarantine. The first function of a deputy is to defend the interests of his constituency and the national interest. We can’t pay tribute to doctors, nurses and essential staff for a month, and months later cut taxes on millionaires. That’s why I welcome the decision to undo the 45% cap rate cap for top entry. “Fair tax collection is essential for government to do its job,” Smith says.

In just one week, the British Parliament will resume its sessions. Truss will face the daunting task of controlling and persuading a parliamentary group that has already made clear to her in recent days that her power as prime minister is very limited, and that her mandate is under scrutiny.

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Sacha Woodward

"Wannabe writer. Lifelong problem solver. Gamer. Incurable web guru. Professional music lover."

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