Liz Truss was as calm as a wizened football coach talking tactics in the boot room: HENRY DEEDES watches the Tory leadership hopeful enjoying a laid-back chat at a working men’s club in Manchester
One of the essential qualities voters seem to seek in a political leader these days is the sort of person they can imagine going down the pub with for a quiet pint.
Take the most successful British politicians of recent years. David Cameron? Well, just about. Blair? Oh, all right. Boris? Heck yeah, and while you’re at it barman, follow it up with a whisky chaser.
Then consider Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband and Theresa May. See what I mean?
So how does Liz Truss score on that front? Today, she agreed to a laid-back chat on GB News in a working men’s club in Greater Manchester. Beer taps. Strong top shelf of single malts. La Truss looked as calm and relaxed as a wizened football coach dishing out tactics in the boot room. The showdown took place in Alastair Stewart’s daily teatime slot. A shame schedulers didn’t arrange for it to be on Nigel Farage‘s show which follows, during which the former Ukip leader downs pints of foaming ale with his guests.
‘Today, Liz Truss agreed to a laid-back chat on GB News in a working men’s club in Greater Manchester. Beer taps. Strong top shelf of single malts’
If it came to a drinking contest between Truss and Farage, my money would be on Liz. Our setting was Leigh, the sort of place where the word ‘Conservative’ tends to be accompanied with an aggressive ‘hoc-tuc!’ clearing of the throat. Stewart who was in no mood for shilly-shallying.
The opening question was from a man insisting Manchester was on its backside. ‘What are you going to do?’ he asked angrily. Tough crowd. La Truss was non-plussed. ‘I’m determined to deliver,’ she announced defiantly.
She looked immaculate. Freshly-coiffed hair, perfect maquillage. She wore sparkly earrings and Margaret Thatcher Blue. Sure to please one side of football-mad Manchester, if not the other. Someone asked about education. This prompted a sudden relaxation of the shoulders. Terra firma. Turns out Liz went to a comprehensive in Leeds, in case you’d missed it.
‘La Truss looked as calm and relaxed as a wizened football coach dishing out tactics in the boot room’
‘She looked immaculate. Freshly-coiffed hair, perfect maquillage. She wore sparkly earrings and Margaret Thatcher Blue. Sure to please one side of football-mad Manchester, if not the other’
A reader from the Daily Mail called Penny enquired about the seemingly never-ending migrant boats crossing the channel. She wanted to know if Truss would consider turning those dinghies around. Penny pointed out the French weren’t exactly being co-operative. ‘You don’t say!’ yelled Truss incredulously.
Truss insisted she was prepared to have a ‘tough conversation’ with her French counterparts and was willing to take ‘robust action’. Stand by, Ms Truss’s interactions with Monsieur Macron could be a pay-for-view event.
The audience was largely supportive – but demanding. They were worried about the spiralling cost of living and wanted answers. Truss responded by switching on the treacle hose. ‘Brilliant question,’ she gushed.
Someone sang the praises of this leadership contest’s surprise hit, Kemi Badenoch. They were adamant she should be a key part of the next government. ‘Do you have any idea what that role should be?’ she asked. Truss replied she ‘definitely wanted her as part of my team’. Home Secretary perhaps. A sure-fire way to destroy her career.
A chap called Trevor harangued Truss over spiralling energy bills. Why not remove VAT? ‘I’m not a fan of tax in general,’ said Truss.
Stewart pointed out her opponent Rishi Sunak’s plans for tax rebates. Truss was dismissive. She’s taken referring to this as a Gordon Brown way of doing politics. A cute line which should stick.
There was concern in the audience about the future of Larry the cat. Did he and Truss get on? Truss insisted she maintained a positive relationship with dear old Larry. Apparently, the Downing Street moggie regularly sidled up to her in Cabinet meetings. With the nightmare battles she faces as PM – not least with her own party – such feline charms should serve her well.