Liz Truss’s fuel bill plan is just Robin Hood in reverse

The last item of parliamentary business of Boris Johnson’s premiership was a debate on sewage pollution. Fitting, don’t you think? After all, more than anyone he turned our political discourse into a cesspit, setting mendacity as standard and jettisoning integrity and morality as he went. So, farewell then, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. You won’t be missed. 

But could the next one be even worse? Liz Truss emerged victorious this week from a long Tory leadership race that was tedious and terrifying in equal measure. Early signs aren’t promising. 

Rarely has there been such a mismatch between the problems facing a government and their prescription for dealing with them. Truss seems ideologically opposed to the measures necessary to tackle the cost-of-living crisis. 

Her mantra of tax cuts may have won votes from the small clique of middle-aged right-wing people that comprise the Tory rank and file, but it makes absolutely no sense in the real world. The Tory party was founded to give voice to the rich and powerful, and Liz Truss is taking them back to their roots. That’s why she will protect those with capital and penalise those without. 

Her attitude to energy prices is a case in point. Of course it’s right to freeze energy prices. If we don’t, millions will face extra hardship, small businesses will go to the wall and inflation will run rampant. But the freeze should be paid for by taxes on the obscene profits corporations are now making, rather than by consumers. 

The Truss plan protects profits, keeps siphoning money out of the real economy to be accumulated as private wealth, and places a future burden on all of us to fund it. And those who are worst off, on low and fixed incomes, will pay the biggest proportion of their income in future bills. It’s basically Robin Hood in reverse. 

It doesn’t have to be this way. Instead, the UK government should do four things. First, levy a windfall tax on excess profits of the giant corporations and use it to peg domestic energy bills. Second, uprate social security payments generously. Third, bring in a more extensive business support programme to help small business meet rising costs. And fourth, use an emergency budget to fund cost-of-living wage increases for public sector workers. 

The Tories won’t do this of course. Nor will they devolve economic powers to Scotland to allow us to take a different approach here. So, the Scottish Government will do what it can, and commendably has already done a lot. Freezing rents, outlawing evictions, increasing child payments to low-income households, increasing free school meals and other measures will help people here. But we still have no control over most social security, business taxes, government borrowing, and the essential levers we need to manage our economy. 

There is a way to make sure government policy serves the people rather than the corporate elite. To have the capacity to deal with rising living costs and the increasing poverty and inequality that follows. we need independence.

The arguments in the Supreme Court next month about having another referendum matter.  As a normal independent country we could be sure to have both the agency and the will to make the changes necessary to protect the people the Tories keep letting down.

Tory Leadership Race Reveals Just How Foul The Conservatives Really Are.

It’s a bit like watching a dysfunctional family on the other side of the street fight amongst themselves. They’re all as bad as each other. There’s no way you can intervene, except to try to get the whole lot evicted because of the harm they are doing to the neighbourhood. And so, the Tory leadership election trundles on, oozing with bad intentions.

The most remarkable thing is that Johnson is still Prime Minister. Lying to parliament. Breaking the law. Protecting his mates. Disowned by his party. But still, he occupies Number Ten. And they let him.

Rather than do the right thing and remove this man from office, the parliamentary Conservative Party shamefully enables his delusions. He still believes he is the victim here.

In truth, they have been saved by the summer holidays. Parliament takes a break next Thursday and returns on September 5. They are hoping Johnson can do no further harm in the time he has left and that, by the time we’re back, someone else will be in charge. Boris will be consigned to the backbenches.

The early stages of the Tory leadership race are over and those whose only intention was to set a marker for the future excluded. But the process so far tells us a lot about the nature of the Conservatives in Britain today.

Most alarming is the race to the right with candidates vying to see who can be the most illiberal and regressive. Not one of them will review deporting refugees to Rwanda, an ugly policy which is a stain on Britain’s humanitarian credentials. Not a single voice is heard in dissent from these wannabe Tory leaders. It’s foul.

In part, this is because they all have an eye to the final ballot of 160,000 Tory members. These are a group of people quite unlike the population they live amongst. They are older, whiter, better-off and, for the most part, more reactionary.

You might think the best leader would be the one who will tell this privileged elite like it is. But not a bit of it. Contestants are pandering to every prejudice. I am convinced that, were equal marriage not now the settled position of the body politic, that would also be firmly in their sights.

To make matters worse, social prejudices are combined with economic illiteracy resulting in drivel about tax cuts and smaller states. Some on the hard-right are quite serious about this, others just parroting what they think their Tory base wants to hear.

If these ideas gain traction, they spell more trouble for those already at the sharp end. Suella Braverman, knocked out yesterday, said Universal Credit should be taken off part-time workers to make them work more hours.

Let’s just unpick that. The people she had in mind were mothers with children (single people don’t get UC), working for wages so low they qualify for state support. That was her target.

The Tory small state means fewer health workers, teachers, police officers. Weakened protection for you and your environment. A squeeze on wages while prices soar and the rich pay less tax.

We do not need to put up with this anymore. Now is the time to choose a different course. Now is the time for independence.