Liz Truss must take blame for her terrible decisions - Greg Wright
He says: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves.”
Cassius would have probably had stern words with one of our former Prime Ministers. Liz Truss’s claim that her radical tax-cutting agenda was partially thwarted by a “powerful economic establishment” does not stand up to any close scrutiny. Instead of taking full personal responsibility for her cataclysmic stint at Number 10, she seeks, apparently, to throw civil servants in the Treasury under the bus, for not stopping her from implementing such reckless policies. Civil servants, of-course, cannot defend themselves publicly. There should be a sacred principle at the heart of public life. Officials advise. Ministers decide. Ministers are very happy to bask in the glory when things go right. They should also take all the blame when things go badly wrong.
Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, Ms Truss said: “I am not claiming to be blameless in what happened, but fundamentally I was not given a realistic chance to enact my policies by a very powerful economic establishment, coupled with a lack of political support. I assumed upon entering Downing Street that my mandate would be respected and accepted. How wrong I was. While I anticipated resistance to my programme from the system, I underestimated the extent of it.”
Ms Truss said that while her experience last autumn was “bruising for me personally”, she believed that over the medium term her policies would have increased growth and brought down debt.
However she said she had not been warned of the risks to the bond markets from liability-driven investments (LDIs) – bought up by pension funds – which forced the Bank of England to step in to prevent them collapsing as the cost of government borrowing soared. In the wake of the mini-budget, she complained that the Government was made a “scapegoat” for developments that had been brewing for some time.
She said that while, with the benefit of hindsight, she would have acted differently, she said that she had had to battle against the “instinctive views of the Treasury” and “the wider orthodox economic ecosystem”.
This analysis faced a chorus of disapproval. The former MP and Minister David Gauke said on Twitter: “She complains about not being warned about the LDI risks. In other words, her defence appears to be “the warnings I received from officials that my policies were stupidly reckless were insufficiently exhaustive”. It’s not a strong defence."
Ms Truss’s disparaging comments about the “instinctive views of the Treasury” is a terrible disservice to civil servants who burned the midnight oil to undo the mess she created. And, as the the Tory peer Lord Barwell, has pointed out, during a cost of living crisis, Ms Truss thought it was a priority to cut tax for the richest people in the country. Her policies were terrible. Her priorities were wrong. That’s all you need to know about Liz Truss.
Greg Wright is the deputy business editor of The Yorkshire Post