EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: We need robust conservative leadership and bravery will be needed says LIZ TRUSS

0
102

Read our exclusive excerpt from Liz Truss’s memoirs (out today) in which she reveals the political lessons of a lost battle and explains how local Conservative parties need to hold their representatives to account for how they vote, what they say and the campaigns they support….

By Liz Truss.

In the first quarter of the twenty-first century, the West has taken a turn to the left. As a consequence, we have become weaker, both inside our own countries and abroad. Our foreign policy has appeased totalitarian regimes, which have thus been emboldened. Government, regulations and money-printing have all expanded, leading to an increase in inflation. Elected officials have been subjugated by an increasingly powerful administrative elite. The aftermath of the Cold War, in which free markets triumphed over statist communism, saw a period of terrible complacency by the West. 

This complacency has allowed left-wing ideology to fester and grow in the public sector as well as in the corporate sphere. Cultural relativism, which rejects British and American exceptionalism (as well as that of our free-world allies), has been embraced by much of the new elite. Extreme environmentalism and other previously fringe movements, such as trans activism, have been empowered and gained ground. Immigration is too high. 

Much of this decay from within has been encouraged and even sponsored by outside forces, many of them linked to the very totalitarian regimes that seek to undermine our way of life. Government has ballooned in size. The state now accounts for 46 per cent of GDP in the UK and 35 per cent of GDP in the US. At the turn of the twenty-first century, the figures were 36 per cent and 29 per cent respectively. 

The then newly elected Prime Minister, Liz Truss when she first arrived at No.10 Downing Street. Picture by Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street

There has also been a growth in the number and powers of quangos and regulators. The pervasive reach of state officialdom has encroached ever further into people’s lives. Parliamentary sovereignty has been diluted with more power accumulated by the quangocracy, an unaccountable judiciary and undemocratic international institutions. 

Too many conservatives, rather than seeking to roll back this encroachment, have tried instead to bring the government machine under conservative control. This is a futile exercise. Whatever some might claim, big government has never been a friend of conservatism. It takes power away from individuals and families; it saps enterprise, and it creates hundreds of thousands of jobs for leftists. The result of this relentless leftward tilt has been declining levels of economic growth and increased alienation through cancel culture and the wokeism that now prevails in everything from the media to the business world. While outpourings of popular discontent have been seen through the Brexit referendum, the election of Donald Trump and the gilets jaunes movement in France, none of these has changed the balance of power in the medium term. The permanent bureaucracy has been very effective at preventing the implementation of policies that the majority of the public supports. 

Conservative parties have often triangulated and accepted the direction of travel. Too many conservatives have stopped making the case for conservative policies and instead tried to get elected based on a promise to manage the bloated state bureaucracy more competently. I started as an MP in 2010, believing this leftist hegemony could be changed. Like most idealistic politicians, I assumed it was simply a matter of political will. I set about putting out ideas, books and policy papers. Many of my colleagues did the same. My subsequent experience in government over the ten years after 2012 showed me the true nature of what we are dealing with. When I was appointed a minister, I worked within the system to try to reduce regulations, curb spending and reform public services. Many of us in government had the same objectives. I found it cumbersome and frustrating, but I assumed this was to do with my lowly rank. The higher I rose up the ladder, the more I realised that the problems we faced were deep-seated and serious: a Conservative Party that had lost its compass and instead turned on itself and a bureaucratic state that was becoming increasingly bold in challenging and obstructing elected politicians. 

This has made it all but impossible to deliver popular policies that would improve lives across the UK. I am talking about such things as building more homes and reforming the planning system, rowing back on net zero, stopping the boats coming across the Channel and controlling immigration, cutting corporate taxes, reversing burdensome diversity and equality rules and getting EU law off the statute book and out of Northern Ireland – all of which would make Britain grow faster while embedding confidence in our values and our way of life.

Prime Minister Liz Truss giving her address and leaving No10 Downing Street. 10 Downing Street. Picture by Rory Arnold / No 10 Downing Street

There has been some progress on this agenda. But looking back, I see that the changes I helped deliver – such as school reform, the Australia trade deal and accession to the CPTPP, and stopping gender self-ID – all took energy and political capital far disproportionate to what they managed to accomplish. They were all delivered in the face of near-hysterical opposition and occupied huge amounts of political bandwidth. Although they were desirable, none of them were game changers for the future of Britain. 

The Growth Plan (otherwise known as the mini-Budget) was my attempt to break the logjam and start tackling the big problems in Britain. Even getting it formulated and announced was a major achievement. In the Kafkaesque world of Whitehall, second guessing, inertia and sheer inaction prevent many good policies from even getting to this stage. But ultimately, the twin forces of institutional resistance and a Conservative parliamentary party that was not prepared to have an economic battle killed it. 

THE LESSONS OF A LOST BATTLE

My purpose in writing this book is not to relitigate the battles of the past quarter of a century. It is to learn from them. I want to provide a call to action for fellow conservatives who believe in our nation and our way of life and who share my frustration at what has been going wrong with our politics and governance. I want others to heed the warnings of what I saw happening and learn the lessons of the battle I lost. 

“My purpose in writing this book is not to relitigate the battles of the past quarter of a century. It is to learn from them.” Picture by Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street.

First, we must acknowledge that Britain and many other countries in the free world have a governance problem. Politicians, particularly conservative politicians, are increasingly unable to deliver on their promises and often get sidetracked or go along with the status quo. At best they content themselves with making small changes that come nowhere near meeting the scope of the challenges before them. I learned this with my very first policy skirmish, childcare deregulation, where ten years later we have still only eradicated a fraction of the red tape that would have cut costs for families. This is a problem across government on issues large and small. There is a conspiracy of silence about it because serving ministers understandably don’t want to admit how impotent they really are. I know it is comforting for many to believe it would have been possible for us to deliver the Growth Plan – tax cuts, spending restraint and supply-side reform – if only there had been more ‘pitch-rolling’, better communication and improved timing. It was just the way we went about it, they say. 

But having sat in the hot seat, I can tell you that is simply not true. Frankly, if it were just a question of better PR and political tactics, these policies would have been implemented by now, given that it has been obvious to many for some time that they need to happen. The forces obstructing this agenda are much deeper-rooted and thus more intractable. 

We can see this in the fact that the Conservative Party has changed its leader four times since 2016 and economic reform still remains out of reach. Yet, the only answer that onlookers ever seem to come up with is to put someone new in charge of the broken machine or to have a reshuffle. At some point, they will have to face the fact that the problem is not the latest tenant of No. 10 but the system itself. 

There must also be a recognition that it is not possible to deliver these policies without some degree of friction. Inevitably, the vested interests that are threatened will resist and use every tool at their disposal to obstruct change. Too often, politics is presented as being a contrast between stability and chaos, with stability prized as an end in itself. But this hides the real choice. ‘Stability’ usually implies acceptance of the status quo, while ‘chaos’ is used as a pejorative term for any disruptive change. This framing means politicians often conclude that the only way to achieve ‘stability’ is not to seek any change at all. These problems are not limited to the UK. When we look at the fractures in the US Republican Party, the growth of the administrative state in Washington and the size of America’s national debt, we see these forces are clearly at work across the free world and perhaps especially in the English-speaking world. We should look to Canada with great interest to see what will happen if the eloquent Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre wins the next election there. I hope that reading about my experiences will assist other conservatives in Britain and around the world in their own work to deliver change. To me, helping advance that agenda is the most important thing that could come from my time in government and is what I care about above all. 

To that end, I believe there are several important lessons for conservatives to learn about how we can win the argument and successfully implement our policies. 

Lesson 1: We Must Be Conservatives 

None of the issues we face will be solved without robust conservative leadership. This starts with core conservative principles. It means individuals and families controlling their own lives rather than facing ever more intrusion from the government. It means defending property rights, free speech and the rule of law. It means standing up for sovereignty, the nation state and British exceptionalism. And it means rejecting net zero zealotry and wokeism. 

The road to hell is paved with compromise and triangulation. Too many conservatives have lost the courage of their convictions in the face of the ceaseless onslaught of the leftist agenda. Instead of confronting these damaging and nonsensical ideas, they have sought to reach accommodation with them and have accepted the left’s terms of debate. This has led to the internal decay of conservatism and a focus on the superficial, rather than what is important. It has in some cases led to venality and nihilism and to the pursuit of power for its own sake. Whether through misplaced fear of being on the ‘wrong side of history’ or simple naivety about the implications, conservatives have too often given the benefit of the doubt to our opponents and allowed them to win by default. We should be clear that our enemies want to destroy us and not labour under the misapprehension that they are well-intentioned or neutral players. We should meet the threat in kind, by fighting for our ideas and fighting to win. 

“None of the issues we face will be solved without robust conservative leadership. This starts with core conservative principles.” Picture by Pippa Fowles / No 10 Downing Street.

Winning the battle of ideas and exposing our opponents’ agenda as dangerous is the only way we will prevail as conservatives. In order to overcome the resistance of the orthodoxy, we need to build significant popular support and be properly organised. This will take time and effort. We need to win the argument on university campuses and in schools. We need more conservative media outlets. We need to use consumer power from the public to challenge the leftist drift of large corporations. 

We need better conservative political infrastructure. This means building teams of people and structures that are capable of running government departments and No. 10 with a conservative ideology – well in advance of this happening. This will require significantly more funding going into conservative politics and a change in priorities. More should be spent on the long-term future of the conservative movement rather than immediate campaigning. 

The left has mobilised this way for years, and they are now reaping the rewards. In or out of office, their ideas have gradually infused public discourse and limited the scope of conservative policies. It is time to push back and mount an equally robust campaign against them. In order to do so effectively, conservatives have to know what they believe and be prepared to stand up for it. Local Conservative parties need to hold their representatives to account for how they vote, what they say and the campaigns they support. The party has to focus far more on the principles of conservatism, as well as on the mechanics of campaigning. 

Bravery will be required to change the culture, to get off the back foot and start fighting. The instinctive common sense of the public is our biggest potential asset, but it needs to be properly harnessed. We need to show a clear moral purpose and win support on that basis. I watched during the 1980s and 1990s as leftist organisations built up their support. They were committed. Obsessive. Fearless. We need to be the same. Our country needs us.

For the other lessons and indeed to read the book in its entirety, please order your copy today via https://www.bitebackpublishing.com/books/ten-years-to-save-the-west


Order your copy of former Prime Minister Liz Truss’s new book Ten Years to Save the West.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

Over the course of a decade as a minister, Liz Truss sought to champion limited government and individual freedom in the face of the left-wing political agenda that frames the debate in so many institutions. 

Ousted by the establishment but still fighting for conservatism, Truss argues that the rise of authoritarianism and the adoption of fashionable ideas propagated by the global left give us barely a decade to preserve the economic and cultural freedoms and institutions that the West holds so dear.

Peppered with newsworthy anecdotes from Truss’s time in public life – such as her memorable last meeting with Queen Elizabeth II, her confrontations with the regimes in Moscow and Beijing, her encounters with the Trump administration and her dismay at the political class’s attempt to betray Brexit – Ten Years to Save the West is an urgent and impassioned call to conservatives about the radical changes that are needed for us to save the West. Ignore her warning at your peril.

Former Prime Minister Liz Truss says:

“I want to provide a call to action for fellow conservatives who believe in our nation and our way of life and who share my frustration at what has been going wrong with our politics and governance. I want others to heed the warnings of what I saw happening and learn the lessons of the battle I lost.”


REVIEWS:

Boris Johnson, UK Prime Minister 2019–2022:

“Liz Truss is right about one big thing – the old establishment economic models are failing. That’s bad news for the entire western world. And she is right that the last thing any of us now needs is more socialism, more taxes and more regulation. We need to reject that tiresome refrain of the global left and instead pursue an agenda that unleashes enterprise and boosts economic growth. I commend this invigorating tract!”

Mike Lee, United States senator:

“By the time former heads of government get around to writing their memoirs, they usually look exclusively backwards, focused only on legacy. This is not the case with former Prime Minister Liz Truss, and we are very fortunate that this is so. Truss is a true movement conservative who has served at the highest levels on the world stage, and in Ten Years to Save the West she diagnoses clearly and vividly the problems she found there. 

“Western conservatism is under attack from inside and out, and this book is required reading for those all over the world who want to defend it. Truss will be a leader in this fight for years to come, and her book pulls no punches in describing the stakes of today and the challenges of tomorrow.”

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here