Friday, 14th October, 2022

[Day 942]

Today, we anticipated a day of political news because late last night it was evident that Downing Street were working on a ‘U’ turn (in other words, reversal) of government policy and the Chancellor of the Exchequeur was flying back fom the United States a day earlier than he had planned – had he been ‘ordered’ home? It was quite a pleasant day today and it was possible that Meg and I could have enjoyed a good walk in the park. But as it rained heavily during the night and the weather indications did not look good, we decided to treat ourselves to a coffee in Waitrose. They had two new girls on duty who were pleasant enough but made a bit of a mess of our drinks but we did not complain as, in general, the level of service we receive is excellent. Today is the day when we treat ourselves to a meal of sea bass served on a bed of lettuce. The news media informed us that there was to be a press conference from Downing Street at 2.30 – upon hearing this, we ensured that we had our lunch and washing up done in plenty of time so that we could look forward to an afternoon of ‘blood sport’ After a lot of speculation, it emerged that the Chancellor of the Exchequeur, Kwami Kwarteng, had been unceremoniously sacked. Reading between the lines, it appeared that he had been summoned home a day early so that he could be sacked. Even this was more interesting than you might expect as it is traditional at times like these for a letter of resignation to be published immediately and for its ‘acceptance’ letter to be published as well. The letter from Kwami Kwarteng made it absolutely clear that he had been sacked (‘You have asked me to stand aside as your chancellor.’) In reply Liz Truss stated that she was sorry that he was leaving the government as though he had decided to resign on his own initiative. But any sacked, or resigning minister, is allowed to make a personal statement in the House of Commons at an early opportunity (say, next Monday) and this speech might be especially interesting. Will Kwarteng in effect feel that ‘if I go, you are going to be pulled down with me’ and make the kind of speech heaping blame upon the Prime Minister who had sacked him. Close observers of the political scene will never forget the resignation speech given by Geoffrey Howe and how he sunk the knife into the shoulder blades of Margaret Thatcher from which she never really recovered. The visible pain on her face as the attack in the House of Commons was taking place has been the object of a myriad of video clips, as you might imagine.

Now we come to the much anticipated press conference itself, starting at 2.30pm and to a room packed with political journalists. The Liz Truss statement to press conference itself lasted less than nine minutes and was a rather typical and robot-like Liz Truss performance. Before the much anticipated press conference, it was beng said that Liz Truss, not a naturally good communicator, would have to give the performance of her life to convince the financial markets, her own Tory MPs and the public at large. Well, the performance of her life it was not. Liz Truss allowed the collected journalists only four questions (each of which was both short, direct and brutal) and after that, she turned on her heel and swept out of the room. This left the whole room astonished as it was fondly imagined that Liz Truss would want to seize the opportunity to ‘reset’ the whole of her government, particularly as Jeremy Hunt was now appointed as her new Chancellor. But her unwillingness to face more detailed scrutiny went down extremely badly with the journalists who are not uninfluential in helping the government to restore its credibility and this unwillingness went down even worse with many of her MPs. This latter group were not slow in making their feelings felt to whichever journalist was available to hear them. I personally feel that Liz Truss sealed her own fate at the second at which she turned and walked out of the rooom (already being widely interpreted as ‘running away’) I remember to the second the point at which Margaret Thatcher’s defenestration started and this was at the point when the ‘Spitting Image‘ portrayed her as absolutely mad with staring eyeballs and shrieking voice. After the programme was aired, many Tory MP’s were convinced that Margaret Thatcher would not lead them into the next election and the plotting and lack of support started. I have a similar feeling tonight. I have a bet with a park friend that Liz Truss will be gone by next Sunday. This bet, a large bar of chocolate, I may lose by a few days but I am going to tease my friend when I see him over the weekend by putting a large bar of chocolate with a piece of string attached to it and slowly pulling it along the park bench and out of his grasp.