Continuity Misrule 

Simon Pearson assesses the political situation as Liz Truss replaces Boris Johnson as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.


There can be little optimism as Liz Truss takes up occupancy in No 10. The new leader of the Conservative Party and fourth Tory Prime Minister since 2010 assumes power as a cost-of-living crisis spirals out of control. Truss finds herself leader of a party bereft of ideas, at the fag end of an ideological union of Brexit Party reactionaries and British capital. 

A series of Conservative governments have crashed the country on the rocks. 

We have witnessed scorched-earth austerity under David Cameron and the lost years of the EU referendum culminating in governmental gridlock during the Brexit process (mis)managed by Teresa May. The more recent pandemic response by Boris Johnson saw friends and acquaintances of the Tory leadership fast-tracked onto a state funded gravy train of lucrative government health contracts. Making money while people died. The growing stench of Tory wrongdoing, from lockdown parties and lobbying rows to alleged sexual misconduct, has tainted the corridors of power. 

The resignation of Prime Minister Boris Johnson does not offer a reset, instead we have continuity government. An unrepresentative minority, 81,000 Conservative party members, have decided our fate. An undemocratic response to the crisis gripping a country of over 87,000,000 people. 

A Prime Minister falls but not his government. How can that be?

Did the country not vote for Boris to get Brexit done? The word on the street then was that one man would unlock a government stifled by Brexit. The government and political party was personified by that man, Boris. But now he is gone, searching for words as he left Downing Street for the last time, he described himself as the booster engines of a rocket, job done, pushing the project on. Instead, a better analogy would be a firework; Boris Johnson exploded with noise and showmanship, but crashed to earth as a stick. Here marks the spot, of failure.

If newspaper reports are to be believed it will now be a rapidshift to the right, a cabinet of ideologues who support an ever-shrinking state, tax cuts for big business and the rich, and a deepening of the right-wing obsession with the so-called culture war. This is not big tent politics, facilitating dissenting views and robust debate, but a politics in which everyone on the outside will be pissed on. 

We should already be gearing up for an election, new ideas are needed, a programme that not only undertakes to get to grips with ever rising inflation and the cost of living but one of thinking in the long term. Now more than ever, those in power need to conceive beyond the lifetime of one Parliament. While we are on the fringes of climate change, Pakistan is experiencing life in the frontline, the reality of climate change now. This will also be our future if we choose to ignore net zero. Increasing energy costs are not an excuse for an about turn in policy direction and a return to the warming embrace of fossil fuels. 

Under this Truss administration the rich will continue to get richer, which is the Tory way. The choice of many this winterwill be to heat or eat, but such grim dilemmas are not the reality Conservative governments recognise; they never have and never will. Levelling up was but a banal slogan, it was never for us. Instead Tory funding went to them, those who didn’t need it. Sunak admitted how the Johnson government operated. Remember that. 

If the country elects a Labour government at the next election, I hope they remember the last twelve years. We do not need further continuity; the country by then will cry out and deserve radical change.

Is it not time that we assigned the conservative party and its ideology of cruelty to history’s dustbin?

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Simon Pearson is on the Editorial Board of the Anti*Capitalist Resistance and is a Midlands-based political activist.

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