It's trust NOT Truss the Tories need more of

6 February 2023, 14:50 | Updated: 7 February 2023, 10:06

Andy Coulson argues that Liz Truss comeback could backfire on the Tories
Andy Coulson argues that Liz Truss comeback could backfire on the Tories. Picture: Global
Andy Coulson

By Andy Coulson

Shamelessness is, to an extent, a pre-requisite for anyone seeking a career in politics.

The ability to let criticism of their failures, however valid, slide painlessly off the shoulders. Boris Johnson had Jedi like abilities in the ‘everyone-to-blame-but-me’ department. And it served him pretty well until it didn’t.

With her tin-eared weekend intervention, his successor Liz Truss is clearly clutching the Johnson Playbook. In doing so, she has delivered a potent reminder of just how ill equipped she is to lead. Liz’s swift re-emergence – pointing the finger at everyone but herself for the 49 Day Premiership That Broke Britain – has also revealed a total misjudgement of the public mood.

There’s no doubt that what she had to say was interesting, especially to the lower tax loving newspaper she chose to write for. They can’t be blamed for publishing her attention-seeking 4,000 word ‘essay’.

But like so many politicians before her, Liz has mistaken what’s interesting to the media for what’s interesting, wanted or needed by voters. And in doing so, she has again undermined the already near-impossible electoral mission of the party she claims to support.

I’m not arguing that as a former PM Liz should spend the rest of her working life in the shadows. I’m sure she has a contribution to make. But all evidence suggests that it shouldn’t have anything to do with the financial future of our country. Or arguably politics more generally.

Liz proudly claims that her low tax, pro-growth ideas were somehow innovative – a startlingly new radical philosophy that ‘the establishment’ just couldn’t compute. But there was, of course, nothing new or clever about it at all.

Low taxes are a long-standing foundation of Conservatism. But so is prudent management of the economy. Pay less tax? Yes please, but not if it doubles the cost of my bloody mortgage and brings the country to its knees. It’s a total absence of competence, not a misunderstanding of political philosophy, that did for Liz.

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Her attempts to chuck the Office for Budget Responsibility under the bus with her article was especially laughable. The former Chancellor George Osborne got it about right when he appeared on Crisis What Crisis? podcast recently.

He said: “It wasn’t just that they announced these tax cuts that couldn’t be paid for, it was that they had trashed the UK’s economic institutions. They’d fired the Treasury Permanent Secretary on day one, an unbelievably arrogant, stupid thing to do. They had side-lined the OBR, they’d gone around trashing the reputation of the Bank of England.

“And all those three things came back to haunt them when the market said, ‘The institutions we trust, you’re not listening to or you’re trying to side-line or you’re firing, and we trust them more than we trust you.’

I’d wager that the vast majority of Brits – save for those equally misguided and presumably mortgage free tax-cuts-at-any-price Tory MPs – feel the same way. And with her shameless comeback tour, Liz will be pushing even more voters to a clear conclusion … that they trust Labour more than they do the Conservatives.

Andy Coulson is a former Downing Street Communications Director, host of the podcast Crisis What Crisis and founder of