We’ve all seen the social media piss takes, the speech about cheese imports and selling pork to China; the early years footage of her calling for the abolition of the monarchy at a Liberal Democrat conference in her younger years; the reminders of her days as a Remainer.
On the face of it, Liz Truss will not be the formidable opponent for Labour that, until the wheels fell off, Boris Johnson proved to be.
However, as someone who is (just about) old enough to remember the glee in the Labour camp when Margaret Thatcher was elected as Tory leader in the late seventies, and then the relief when she was deposed and replaced by the grey man that was John Major, I would caution against Keir Starmer and his team cracking open the champagne in anticipation of a Truss implosion just yet.
The soon to be crowned new PM has navigated her way expertly through the Conservative Party selectorate, discreetly campaigning to be head girl of her party for a few years now. She has grown in stature during the leadership contest, now looking far more confident and comfortable in head-to-head debates with her ‘slicker’ opponent Rishi Sunak, and DIB members who met Truss at one of our events when she was International Trade minister will testify that up close and personal she is likeable, with a keen sense of humour.
With some massive challenges ahead, among them the Ukraine conflict, China-Taiwan relations, and the economy, Liz Truss may find herself facing an even shorter Downing Street stay than the man she is going to replace. But, if her tax cutting agenda and new, improved presentation skills provide a short-term boost to both her party’s fortunes, and the cost of living crisis, don’t rule out a Spring 2023 election.
I know she has ruled that out. But, as with her policy on regional pay, Brexit, and the monarchy, Truss has proved that she can U-turn when it suits her.
It would be foolish for Labour to underestimate her.