While the race for N 10 heats up, another important race is being overlooked: the race for No11. Rumours have been swirling around Westminster that Sajid Javid, Matt Hancock, and Liz Truss are all being vetted for the job.
The problem with that is that both Javid and Hancock don’t seem to stand for much – and they certainly don’t stand for change. Javid has disappointed many during his time at the home office, where he’s consistently seemed to compromise his principles in order to gain easy popularity with the Tory membership. Meanwhile Hancock is a cheerleader for a new “Amazon tax” as well as wanting to extend sin taxes.
The reported “problem”, however, with Truss is that she’s too much of a “radical”. Yet that is exactly what the party needs.
The fact that she actually believes in an ideology becomes even more important when you consider the complacency that has gripped Downing Street over the past few years.
The party needs someone who will extol the virtues of our capitalist system – a system that has lifted more people out of poverty across the globe than any other system in the history of mankind.
And, as chief secretary to the Treasury, Truss has made it her mission to tackle vested interests, champion the personal freedom that modern Britain offers, and harness Brexit to make sure that there are opportunities for all, regardless of background.
And that’s what is required: a chancellor who isn’t afraid of making the case for economic liberalism, who stands up to officials across Whitehall, and who understands that in order to win over modern Britain, you have to love and champion it as it is, not look like you want to hark back to the past.
Indeed, an awkward truth for Boris is that many Tories – especially the free-market caucus and younger members – backed him simply because they thought it would result in chancellor Truss.
This is largely due to the fact that members share her sense that the party is going far too much in the direction of dirigisme, and the fact that her championing of economic and personal freedom sharply contrasts to Theresa May’s “the good that government can do” howler of a premiership.
We at 1828 had the pleasure of hosting Truss at an event earlier this year, and she electrified the room with her detailed policy proposals and fresh, vibrant outlook on the economy.
Indeed, as she said: “If you look at the opinion polling for the younger generations, they are less likely to want higher taxes than older generations. They are more likely to start up businesses, and more likely to cite making money as a motivating factor for that. They believe in the concept of personal responsibility. You have a generation that fundamentally believes in economic and personal freedom – that should be the ideal target audience for the Conservatives.
In fact, since 2015, there has been an 85% rise in the number of businesses set up by 18-24-year-olds. That is twice the level of businesses set up by the same age group in France and Germany. So, it’s not just this generation, it’s this generation here in Britain that is unique and special, and I think that’s really exciting.”
Winning over younger voters is , again, an area in which Truss beats all other senior Tories. She is the only one who seems to get the Uber-riding, Airbnb-ing, Deliveroo-eating generation of young, freedom-loving Brits.
And while it’s true that other senior Tories are now increasingly adopting Truss’s stances – which is, of course, welcome – the right person to take the reins of the Treasury is the visionary who led the way in making the case for this freedom-based agenda.
The key point here for Conservatives is that the party cannot expect people, especially young people, to wax lyrical about economic and personal freedom if our leaders simply can’t be bothered – or lack the ability – to make the case for it.
Nor can you expect to win over modern Britain when the leading candidate to become the next prime minister has a team that resembles a stuffy old boys’ club. And the Treasury is the only great office of state that has never had a woman at the helm.
For the party that delivered the first and second female prime ministers, the first Jewish prime minister, the first Muslim Home Secretary, and the first openly gay female cabinet minister, appointing Truss as the first female chancellor would be a historic moment for both the party and the country.
Liz Truss is a fiscal hawk, an industrial economist by trade, and she embodies the principles on which the Conservative party must stand if it is to survive. Frankly, if she isn’t appointed as the UK’s first female chancellor, Boris Johnson will have already failed one of his most important tasks on day one.
Jack Powell is editor of 1828uk.com