Liz Truss and GE15 – Lessons To Be Learnt

Liz Truss and GE15 - Lessons To Be Learnt | IKRAM

Here in the UK we have just witnessed the shortest ever tenure of a UK Prime Minister, at 45 days.

She was an extremely consequential leader, and will be remembered in years to come, but for all the wrong reasons.

She and her Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, heedlessly enacted their dogmatically rigid mini-budget, only to be dealt a sharp rebuke by the financial markets.

The small amount of money that would have been handed to the masses (and the large amount handed out to the 1%) were quickly engulfed by the massive rise in interest rates, with its knock-on effects on mortgages and the price of many goods.

As is par for the course for the last few years of UK politics, she denied having committed a mistake, and ruled out that she would make a U-turn, only for her to be forced into doing so after much pressure.

She then tried to save her own position by throwing her long-time political friend Kwarteng to the wolves, firing him for enacting a mini-budget that they both signed off on.

However this did little to stem the turmoil in financial markets, leaving her with very little power. She brought in a new chancellor from an opposing faction within the Conservative Party, but this only caused more problems for her, as she was left “in office, but without power”.

The changes which her new Chancellor wanted to push through then caused her Home Secretary to resign. The final straw was instructing a three-line whip to be enforced on a contentious vote on fracking, which led to a full-out revolt against her.

The Conservative Party are now seeking to select a new Prime Minister from their ranks who will be able to unify the feuding factions of their party.

They are not even countenancing a General Election as they know that they would be consigned to history; their main rivals The Labour Party has a gigantic lead in the opinion polls, which if translated to a general election would give them a huge majority of a few hundred MPs.

Malaysia is due to go to the polls on 19 November 2022, after four years of tumult. While the local contexts are different, several important lessons can be drawn from the UK’s current political problems.

Firstly, we should ensure that our leaders are competent and have integrity. Boris Johnson, Liz Truss’ predecessor, had neither, but managed to muddle through his time in power with his charisma and political nous.

Liz Truss was woefully ill prepared for the job, but combined it with dogmatic devotion to a warped economic ideology. These contributed significantly to the UK’s current woes.

Secondly, we should be vigilant against simple answers for difficult questions. The UK fell victim to the Brexit delusion. Malaysia has many such delusions being peddled as “the solution”.

We need to recognise that the problems facing our country appear simple on the surface, but are complicated when you look at the possible solutions to them.

Finally, Liz Truss’ rapid fall from grace is also a warning to all, that pride does indeed come before a fall.

To our future parliamentarians, be mindful that while you might occupy a position of power, such a position is by its nature fickle and prone to sudden reversals of fortune. Just ask Najib Razak.

We are on the eve of a very consequential election. While the efforts to secure votes and get people to vote become ever more frenetic, we must remember that election wins are built in the periods between elections – by engagement with voters, education, and with campaigning.

Regardless of what happens on November 19 2022, building a better Malaysia must continue.

Iskandar Mohamed
International Development & Politics

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