I’ve been so uninspired by UK politics recently—and the whole Conservative party leadership race that has led to Liz Truss being elected as the new Tory leader, and Prime Minister of the UK. I watched the debates and interviews and kept up to date with all things Liz this summer, but nothing about her victory excites me. A couple of weeks ago, I had enough of listening to one of her speeches, and instead started watching Arsenal FC’s new Amazon Prime series that documented the behind-the-scenes of the North London football team’s 2021/22 season.
Now I am not an Arsenal fan, but I loved the in-depth analysis of the highs and lows of the team’s season last year. Every critical moment, conversation, and argument was captured. Personally, the highlight was watching the impact of Mikel Arteta, the manager. After losing their longest-serving manager, Arsene Wenger, in 2018, Arsenal struggled to compete seriously with the biggest teams in the country. One phrase that Arsenal fans throw about is “Trust the Process.” The phrase literally means what it says; just trust the boss, give them some time, and all will be fine in the end. Arsenal endured the rocky post-Wenger period with some tough losses and bad transfers who ultimately weren’t of the Arsenal caliber. They then brought in Arteta, trusted his transfers, methods, and tactics, and the results now speak for themselves. He had a clear plan and vision of where he wanted the club to be, and is presently reaping the rewards.
This story sounds familiar.
The Tories have been in power for over a decade and won a majority in the 2015 election under David Cameron’s leadership. Between that election win and the present day, the UK has had two other Prime Ministers, each failing to see through an entire parliament, a referendum on European Union membership, and austerity economics that has led to large-scale wealth inequality. The point is that the Tories have tried and failed to keep one strong, coherent leader since David Cameron. Boris Johnson was supposed to steady the ship after his thumping election victory. That didn’t exactly go to plan. They’ve tried every possible new policy position and strategy, yet despite staying in power for the past 12 years, the Tories have gone a bit stale.
Now we have Liz Truss. She says everything you want to hear when watching her on TV—well, if you’re a Conservative, that is! She has served in all of the Tory cabinets since 2010. While this would be impressive, as it shows versatility, it actually demonstrates Truss’ inability to stay coherent and firm on the UK’s big issues. She’s a political chameleon. She grew up believing in abolishing the monarchy and is now in favor of it. She was a Liberal Democrat and now is a Conservative. She campaigned for remain during the EU referendum, but now firmly believes in Brexit. Even during her own leadership campaign, she u-turned on policy proposals because of the backlash. I thought the Tories were supposed to be strong and stable.
Since Thatcher, the UK has been governed by pragmatic prime ministers who broadly believe in a mixed economy committed to sound public finances and public services. Boris Johnson shattered that trend when he became PM. Liz was a core part of his cabinet, a close friend and ally. Ideologically, Truss is a continuation of a revival of proud, Thatcherite, New Right Conservatism of the past few years. She has literally been dubbed the “new Iron lady.” Whether you agree with her politics or not, Liz needs to be the one to lead the Tories forward to deliver their 2019 manifesto pledges. Although her margin of victory was slimmer than that of Boris Johnson and David Cameron, she has a mandate from her party to govern. The Tories need stability, honesty, and vision to ensure Keir Starmer’s Labour loses the next election.
Winning an election is no easy feat. The public scrutinizes everything you say and do. I still remember when the country mocked Ed Miliband for the way he ate a bacon sandwich. Don’t forget the way everyone cringed at Theresa May’s robot-like dance moves in Nairobi. I think Peter Crouch was the only Brit loving her moves. Liz Truss has had her fair share of funny moments and failed one-liners, but I’ll give it to her, she actually looks like she can dance! She’s already one up on Theresa May.
Personally, I think Liz should watch the Arsenal documentary too. She could learn a thing or two from Arteta’s straight-talking, principled team talks, passionate and winning mentality, and the way he conducts himself in front of the media.
Still, who am I to judge? As far as the Conservative Party is concerned, members believe Truss strikes the right balance that is needed to move the party forward. The electorate is worried about the cost of living, energy prices, and the NHS. So like Mikel Arteta, Liz comes in at a tough time to steady the ship, provide clarity on the strategy, build a top team and win the argument.
Let’s just see how she does.