This article first appeared at betting.betfair.com on 6th October
Over the past seven years of political chaos, it has become wearisome having to repeatedly use the phrase ‘unprecedented’. Nevertheless, I’m pretty sure it is the correct term to describe these poll numbers for Liz Truss.
Lest we forget, we are at the stage of Liz Truss’ tenure as Prime Minister where convention dictates she would get a bounce in the polls, or at least a hearing. After the collapse of Tory support under Boris Johnson, the only way was supposed to be up. Wrong.
Truss lurches from one disaster to another
There isn’t enough space in this column to run through the multiple car-crashes that have beset the Truss premiership over the past two weeks, since Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget.
A Sterling crash which temporarily recovered (to an already low mark against the dollar) but is slipping again upon news that the credit ratings agency Fitch has downgraded the UK to ‘negative’ from ‘stable’. The Bank of England needing to step in and bail out the pensions industry. A spate of disastrous interviews. Rebellions from Tory MPs, prompting a u-turn in cutting the top rate of tax, and the threat of more to come. An utterly chaotic conference, during which all that and more was litigated.
Rising mortgage costs could kill the Tories
I’ve surely missed many disasters in that paragraph but the one which I believe will cause the biggest damage is the sharply rising cost of mortgages. As explained in the Politics Live blog, this hurts the segment of voters who are essential to any Tory coalition.
Regarding her set-piece conference speech, Truss did a decent enough holding job. I thought it shallow, packed with meaningless soundbites and comical dividing lines such as the ‘anti-growth coalition‘, but that applies to most conference speeches in the 21st century. Truss did enough to please the party faithful who voted for her.
Nevertheless when they return to Parliament, the Tories will need to address grim reality. Their implosion has come just as Keir Starmer finds his voice, and Labour are on the up. Not only are they over 20% ahead across the UK, but check out these numbers in Scotland.