Despite the Landslide, Labour Have No Vision and Only Won the UK General Election Because the Tories Lost So Spectacularly

A composite image of the outgoing Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, and his replacement, Sir Keir Starmer.

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So the good news is easy. After 14 years of cruelty, incompetence and corruption, the Tories were wiped out in yesterday’s General Election in the UK, suffering their worst ever result, and ending up with less MPs than at any other point in their 190-year existence.

Of the 650 seats contested, the 365 seats that the Tories had when Rishi Sunak unexpectedly called a General Election on May 22 were slashed to just 121 (a loss of over two-thirds), with their vote almost halved, from 13,966,454 in 2019 to just 6,814,469 yesterday.

High-profile Tory losses included Liz Truss, the disastrous 43-day Prime Minister, whose vote plunged from 35,507 in 2019 to 11,217 in South West Norfolk, the absurd and offensive pro-Brexit toff Jacob Rees-Mogg, and a number of ministers until six weeks ago including the vacuous Tory pin-up Penny Mordaunt, the empty Grant Shapps and Mark Harper, the far-right ideologues Liam Fox and Johnny Mercer, and the offensive Thérèse Coffey and Gillian Keegan.

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Under Rishi Sunak, the UK’s Fourth Tory Brexit Government, Already Obsessed with Austerity, Is Doomed to Fail

How the Daily Mirror, on its front page, responded to the news that Rishi Sunak had been chosen as the latest Prime Minister by Tory MPs.

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In the ongoing farce that is Britain’s Tory government, we now have our third Prime Minister in seven weeks — Rishi Sunak, the first Asian to hold the top job, but also the richest PM in British history, with a £730 million fortune via his marriage to Akshata Murty. The daughter of the Indian billionaire N. R. Narayana Murthy, who founded the technology company Infosys, she has a 0.91% stake in the company, which constitutes most of the Sunak family’s wealth. Sunak himself was a banker from 2001 until his election in 2015, working first for Goldman Sachs, and then for a number of hedge funds.

Promoted to the role of Chancellor under Boris Johnson, Sunak is credited with successfully preventing a total meltdown of the economy during the Covid lockdowns, primarily through the furlough scheme for workers, although, to be honest, any Chancellor in place at the time would have had to do the same. Defeated by Liz Truss in the leadership campaign in the summer, he is now seen as a credible leader by the majority of Tory MPs who backed him over the last week — many, no doubt, pressurised to do so to prevent the choice of leader going back to the untrustworthy Party members who elected Truss — instead of the other contenders, Penny Mordaunt and Boris Johnson, who somehow thought that he could miraculously return from the political grave into which he had dug himself.

Nevertheless, the painful truth for Sunak is that no one — not even the 81,326 Tory Party members who voted for Liz Truss — voted for him, and it will be hard for him to claim any kind of popular mandate as a result. Hopefully, the calls for a General Election that increased throughout Liz Truss’s disastrous premiership will not fall away now that Truss has gone, because the only way for Sunak to genuinely claim any legitimacy is to ask the public to support him — and not merely to claim that the result of an election nearly three years ago, fought solely on Boris Johnson’s risible claim that he would ‘Get Brexit Done’, has any relevance.

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Radio: I Discuss Liz Truss and the UK’s Ongoing Tory Brexit Nightmare – Plus Guantánamo and Julian Assange – with Chris Cook on Gorilla Radio

Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak during the Tory leadership campaign in summer. After just 44 days in the top job, Truss’s departure has led to Sunak being appointed as her successor by Tory MPs.

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I’m delighted to have been interviewed on Saturday by Chris Cook, in Canada, for his Gorilla Radio show, available worldwide through the miracle of the internet, via his brand-new Substack account. The show is also available here as an MP3.

The first 20 minutes of our half-hour discussion involved the sad decline of post-Brexit Britain under a succession of witless Prime Ministers — most recently Liz Truss, who lasted just 44 days, but managed in her brief window of opportunity to crash the economy, as the markets reacted with revulsion to a ‘mini-budget’ that promised massive unfunded tax cuts for the rich at the worst time imaginable, during a time of rampant inflation and spiralling energy prices. 

Our discussion followed on from my recent article, Now that the Execrable Liz Truss Has Gone, Only a General Election Can Validly Deliver the UK’s Next Leader, and I was pleased to have had the opportunity to discuss the role played in the mad ideology of Truss and her Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng by a number of supposed ‘free market’ lobbying groups based in Tufton Street, close to Parliament — including the Institute of Economic Affairs, the Taxpayers’ Alliance, the Centre for Policy Studies, the Adam Smith Institute, Civitas and the climate change-denying Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) — who dress themselves up as think-tanks, and, shamefully, have secured charitable status, even though they have persistently failed to explain who funds them (although US far-right dark money is clearly involved).

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Now that the Execrable Liz Truss Has Gone, Only a General Election Can Validly Deliver the UK’s Next Leader

Liz Truss at a press conference, before her departure as the UK’s Prime Minister.

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So it’s over, then. Just 44 days since taking office, and with eleven of those days given over to the now almost forgotten funerary rites for Queen Elizabeth II, Liz Truss has resigned as Prime Minister, having crashed the economy and revealed, inadvertently, how the Conservative Party of 2022 is in its death throes, finally succumbing to the suicidal impulses of its defining obsessions — the privatisation of everything, tax cuts for the rich, and propping up the failed fantasy of Brexit as something liberating rather than the disaster that it so clearly is, was and always will be.

The trigger for Truss’s record as Britain’s shortest-serving Prime Minister was the outrageous ‘mini-budget’ she cooked up with her Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, in which, with extraordinary arrogance, this delusional pair of shallow ideologues — marinaded in the far-right ‘libertarianism’ of the Tufton Street lobbying groups, who refuse to reveal their funding (although we know it involves climate change deniers and fossil fuel polluters) — sought to push through massive tax cuts for the rich at a time of rising inflation and spiralling energy costs. This was a recipe for disaster as the former Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, repeatedly explained during the farcical summer-long leadership in which Truss, somehow, wasn’t adequately exposed as an empty vessel.

The ‘mini-budget’ — shielded by Truss and Kwarteng from scrutiny by almost anyone, including, to cite one particularly pertinent example, the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR), which was established by George Osborne to review the public finances — spooked the markets to such an extent that the economy tanked, leading to the sacking of Kwarteng, and now the resignation of Truss.

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My Interview with Riverside Radio’s Andy Bungay About the Horrors of the Truss Government, Guantánamo, and the Plight of Julian Assange

A screenshot of the Andy Bungay/Colin Crilly show on Mixcloud, featuring an interview with Andy Worthington.

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On Friday I was delighted to be interviewed by Riverside Radio’s Andy Bungay, for the last hour of an extended podcast of his Saturday night show, The Chiminea, for which, once a month, he is joined by Colin Crilly for the Colin Crilly Takeover Show.

The three-hour show is here, on Mixcloud, and our interview takes up most of the last hour, with some musical interludes.

For the first 20 minutes, from 2:02 to 2:22, we discussed the current collapse of the UK under Liz Truss, an unprecedented disaster that no one could quite have foreseen, even though it was clear — in that long summer of the campaign for a new Tory leader to replace the disgraced Boris Johnson — that she was a dangerous far-right ‘libertarian’ ideologue, heavily influenced by the unaccountable think-tanks in Tufton Street, who are obsessed with shrinking the state, and enriching the rich, and who are also ferociously pro-Brexit, and prominent players in the deranged world of climate change denial.

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From Tomorrow, 16 Days of Rebellion and Protest Against the UK Government — for the Climate, the Economy and Justice

Poster for Just Stop Oil’s ‘Occupy Westminster’ protest, starting on October 1, 2022. Photo taken on Deptford High Street, September 22, 2022 (Photo: Andy Worthington).

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Over the last few weeks, much of London has been plastered with posters advertising the environmental protest group Just Stop OIl’s ‘Occupy Westminster’ protest, beginning on Oct 1. The timing could hardly have been better, as, since it was first announced many weeks ago, a new fossil fuel-loving, climate change-denying government has been put in place — elected by just 81,326 Tory Party members and with no mandate from the people of the UK — which has proceeded to refuse to levy windfall taxes on the energy companies’ vast and unearned recent and future profits (choosing instead to put the burden on taxpayers for an energy price cap that was required to save the country from economic collapse), has lifted the ban on fracking, and has promised to open the floodgates to new oil and gas extraction (as well as, most recently, crashing the UK economy in the most alarming manner via unjustifiable and fiscally deranged tax cuts for the rich).

Backed by the malevolent far-right ‘libertarian’ think-tanks based in Tufton Street, close to Parliament, including the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), described by climate researchers and environmental groups as “the UK’s most prominent source of climate denialism”, Truss’s government has no interest in investing in renewables, even though the majority of the British public backs new on- and off-shore wind power, solar power and wave power, rather than fossil fuels, and also has no interest in investing to insulate Britain’s leaky homes, even though it would vastly reduce our energy needs, and well as providing significant employment.

The occupation of Westminster begins tomorrow (October 1), with activists gathering first at Euston, Paddington and Waterloo stations at 11am, and then converging on Westminster, with the plan repeated on Sunday October 2 (when, incidentally, the Tories’ train wreck of a conference begins in Birmingham), and, from Monday October 3, moving to Whitehall, opposite 10 Downing Street at 11am every day.

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The Death Throes of the Brexit Disaster: Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng Declare Class War on the British People

Architects of disaster: Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng in the House of Commons.

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Six years into the Brexit disaster, the malevolent anti-democratic forces who did so much to facilitate the success of the vote to leave the EU in June 2016 are finally where they always wanted to be: running the government, and able to implement their four prevailing obsessions: enriching the already rich at everyone else’s expense; shrinking the state (or preferably entirely obliterating the state provision of any services whatsoever); using the UK’s departure from the EU as an opportunity to scrap all the inconvenient ‘rights’ that have protected the British people and the environment from grotesque exploitation; and denying the existence of catastrophic climate change to further enrich the oil and gas companies that are driving the planet to extinction.

These anti-democratic forces, largely clustered in a handful of buildings in Tufton Street in Westminster, just a stone’s throw from Parliament, include the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), the Taxpayers’ Alliance, the Centre for Policy Studies and the Adam Smith Institute, all far-right ‘libertarian’ think-tanks representing “the extreme fringe of neoliberalism”, as George Monbiot explained in an article for the Guardian on Friday. Also related, though located 400 yards to the north, is Policy Exchange, another right-wing think-tank, and Tufton Street was also initially home to the Vote Leave campaign, which was registered there, as well as Leave Means Leave, which campaigned for a hard Brexit after the EU referendum. It is also currently home to the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF).

This latter group has been described by climate researchers and environmental groups as “the UK’s most prominent source of climate denialism”, as was explained in an OpenDemocracy article in May, when “two MPs, three Lords members and more than 70 scientists, writers, and campaign groups” sent a letter to the Charity Commission complaining that the GWPF was “not a charity but a fossil fuel lobby group”, after evidence emerged establishing that it “had received donations from a foundation with millions of dollars’ worth of shares in oil, gas and coal companies — despite claiming it would not take cash from anyone with a fossil fuel interest.”

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The Greatest Economic Crime in UK History? Liz Truss Caps Energy Prices By Taxing Us For Up to 20 Years Instead of Taxing Energy Companies’ Obscene Windfall Profits

Liz Truss,Britain’s new Prime Minister, and a fossil fuel drilling platform.

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So it’s official, then. On Wednesday, on her first full day in office — just before the death of the Queen froze all public-facing political activity for at least a week and a half — Liz Truss addressed the UK’s devastating energy bill crisis, which threatens to hurl two-thirds of the country into fuel poverty, and to bankrupt all small- to medium-sized businesses, as well as public sector organisations like the NHS, schools, universities and charities, by capping domestic energy bills at £2,500 a year until 2024, stemming the rise to £3,549 that was to take place on October 1, and which was forecast to rise to an almost unimaginable £5,400 a year in January.

This will still be a nightmare for poorer families — who, lest we forget, make up at least half the population — because last winter average bills were £1,277 a year, and even now people are struggling with the cap set at £1,971 a year, but what makes the announcement so poisonous, whilst appearing to be the act of a saviour, is that it will be funded not through a windfall tax on the estimated £176 billion in obscene and completely unearned profits of the oil and gas companies who have benefitted from the eleven-fold increase in gas prices since 2019, but by transferring the cost onto taxpayers.

Do you see how disgusting and disgraceful this policy is? Truss is refusing to tax the grotesque profits of the oil and gas companies, and is instead proposing to borrow at least £100 billion — and maybe more — to compensate them for their losses through the cap that is necessary to prevent the total collapse of the British economy, and then making us pay it back in increased bills over the next ten to 20 years, — in other words, increased bills every month into the 2030s or even the 2040s — simply to preserve the energy companies’ monstrous windfall profits.

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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