After much advice, criticism, comments, judgements, critiques, evaluations and backlash from Economists, other world leaders, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, The Bank of England, The British Public, the Labour Party, the Lib Dems, the Greens, The Monster Raving Loony Party as well as her own Tory Party, Prime Minister Truss has grudgingly agreed to keep the 45p top tax rate.
And I do mean Grudgingly. She first defended the tax cut, saying they should have laid out the policy more clearly. Yes please, do take more time to explain that with 90% of the British Public in financial crisis, it’s a good idea to give massive amounts of money to the top 10% who don’t need it. In the end she did abandon the policy, not because it was socially, morally and economically indefensible, but because it was becoming a distraction.
That’s like Burglars robbing your house, abandoning the plan to steal the large Picasso on the wall because it was becoming a distraction from looting the cash and jewellery.
Make no mistake; Liz Truss not yet begun to shake down the British Public.
I’ve always taken the view that the Conservative Party doesn’t care about the poor. Nothing personal, they just want to look after their own; ie, rich people. How much they care is based on how much money you have. They care a lot about people with a lot of money, middling concern for the middle class, little concern for the little guy, beyond tossing the occasional farthing to an urchin in the street.
But occasionally, you get a different sort. You get someone with the philosophy that poverty is a moral failing, not a societal one. That the poor must be punished. Liz Truss is shaping up to be one of those Conservatives.
Truss has announced that she will not follow Boris Johnson’s plan to raise benefits in line with inflation. Think about that. BoJo was not particularly generous with government funds, at least not funds for the lower classes (He gave gobs of money to Tory donors in the form of government contracts) and he saw the need to increase benefits in line with inflation. Former Chancellor Rishi Sunak, someone who hated spending government money, said the increase made sense.
Liz Truss wants to use a different metric for benefits. She wants to increase them in line with average increase in wages. Wages, which have been stagnant for years. Wages, which have been lagging behind inflation before this crisis. Wages, which in the face of a 10% rise in the cost of living, have on average gone up 3%. So a 3% rise in Benefits would actually mean a 7% cut in real terms.
I know the thinking behind this policy. A cut in benefits is meant to incentivise people get jobs; that they’re not working because they’re lazy. And Liz Truss has said as much in the past. In a leaked audio from 2019, she said that British people needed “more graft.” A book she co-authoured described the British as “The worst idlers in the world.” She sees poverty as the fault of the poor, they need to fix it by working harder, nothing at all to do with her.
I find this way of thinking offensive and overly simplistic. It keeps everyone at near poverty levels, as wages will only have to be slightly higher than benefits. For many families, when you factor in costs of childcare and transport, they’re still better off on benefits. What if, instead of cutting benefits, you raise them, and incentivise employers to raise wages? You can only grow the economy when people have money to spend.
I’ve heard other worrying notes From Liz Truss. In a recent interview, she said she doesn’t feel safe on London Streets. Which streets does she walk down? I’ve walked London streets for over 20 years, and for the most part, I don’t feel unsafe and I guarantee I’ve walked down some dodgier streets than her. What concerns me about this statement is that she wants more police on streets, and with greater powers over the public. The new Policing Act allows police to decide when and where a protest can be allowed, allows braoder definitions of ‘Public Nuisance’ and ‘Threat to the Public’. It also allows Ministers to redefine regulations without going through a democratic process or parliamentary discussions.
Cost of living crisis, Energy crisis, Benefits cuts; our summer of strikes is already giving way to an Autumn of protests and, I expect, a winter of riots. The broader definition of police powers, coupled with Liz Truss’ desire for more police on the streets, versus the greater public anger and unrest is definitely something to worry about. At what point will we go from police presence to Police state.
There is hope. The Tories are definitely having a “What have we done?” moment with regards to Truss’ premiership. If nothing else convinced them, the plummeting value of the pound brought them round. Although she is immune from a Vote of No Confidence for a year, her MP’s are just about in full rebellion, and she does not have the charisma, common touch or political clout to win them over.
I’ve said that I don’t feel unsafe on the Streets. Liz Truss, with her Pro-Rich people, crush the poor policies, has reason to fear the streets… and the halls of Parliament.
You can walk down the street and feel safe, because the majority of people don’t hate you and/or want to cause you harm.