Given that it is now a matter of time before Prime Minister Theresa May steps down from office, it is entirely unsurprising that a number of Conservative politicians have been jockeying for position in order to present themselves as potential party leaders and thus Prime Minister.
This has been a regular feature of British politics for some considerable time (particularly from the Tories) and I for one am really rather tired of it. I am fed up with the idea that people become MPs to feather their own nests and attempt to become Prime Minister almost as soon as they step into the House of Commons. This might be an obvious comment but I’ll say it anyway – people become MPs to serve those who elect them, to serve the country and run it on our behalf. That’s it. Nothing else.
The usual suspects are to the fore and they have been attempting to portray themselves as would be Great Leaders for some time. There are some however, who have been slightly less obvious, marginally less long-standing in outright ambition and one of them is Liz Truss. Only slightly and only marginally though
Miss Truss is 43 so she isn’t quite among the ‘cool, young’n funky’ set, and she is the Member of Parliament for Southwest Norfolk. She is also Chief Secretary to the Treasury and the first female Lord Chancellor (not quite the same or as high up the chain as Chancellor of the Exchequer – that’s still Phillip Hammond). She also appeared in a cover feature for a Sunday newspaper magazine supplement on Sunday May 12, a quite glossy, colour publication in which she is seen in a studio, wearing fashionable (and expensive) clothes, all of which were credited to the manufacturer – buy these! Look who wears them! Given the current view of Conservative politicians, is this a recommendation or something else?
Adopting a number of striking poses, Truss is described in the article as being seen in political circles as a Tory moderniser, with much talk of her being a possible successor to Theresa May and the article also points out that this is, ‘talk that admittedly appears to have been generated with great success by Liz herself. She’s not so much a dark horse as one that has painted itself blue and wrapped itself in flashing neon lights’. And there is the problem.
Too many Tories are doing just that. It is all rather unseemly and undignified – as are some of the pictures not only in the article on Liz Truss but also in similar features on other politicians, Labour and the Liberal Democrats included.
This is a personal view and I may not speak for anybody else but would it not be more appropriate for articles like these to focus less on how cool a politician is and more on what they wish to do as politicians? Should not the emphasis be on how they will behave and what their views are? Most importantly on how they will carry out their duties, firstly as representatives of their constituencies and secondly as representatives of the people of the UK and looking after everybody’s interests and running the country?
The biggest issue I have over the article on Liz Truss is not so much what she says in it, some of which centres around the still-entrenched issues of being a woman in a man-dominated political world. As a slight aside, I have met the Prime Minister twice, one of the occasions being a Conservative Party Women-To-Win event, of which Theresa May was a prime mover. I remain a supporter of the principle, being of the view that gender is immaterial to any individual’s ability, regardless of what the job might be.
No, this article is not about Liz Truss the person, despite claiming differently. This is about the cool girl who will be the best person to lead. This is about (as the article points out) how Liz Truss has sought a number of high-profile media appearances to burnish her credentials as a would-be PM. It is about how fresh she is and – again as the feature says – how her daughter, aged just 13, helps in her style makeover. As Miss Truss says, ‘[her daughter] shops at places such as New Look and River Island, so she introduces me to places I wouldn’t think of much.’ This article is about how Liz Truss is ‘in touch’ with the young today, how young people can look to her for their future’. It is ‘Look at me, I’m cool and trendy.’
It begs the immediate question, what about those who are not young? They have rights and need as well. I wish I could afford to shop at New Look and River Island, or at least the male equivalent (are there equivalents? Are both retail outlets exclusively female or gender-fluid? I have no idea. Perhaps I should go into them and ask). As it happens I don’t have any problems at all with anybody, no matter what their age, looking trendy and buying cool clothes. Including politicians.
And this is the point – it doesn’t matter what one looks like, or what gender one is. All that matters is what you want to do and how you will do it. Does Liz Truss want to be Prime Minister because she really wants to lead the country to better times? One of the most significant quotes in the article is this: ‘…you can’t have control of your own life unless you have your own money…’ She is of course, quite right – and there are legions of ordinary people who don’t. So what will she do about it? She doesn’t say. Also absent is any reference to Brexit.
That may not be a bad thing – maybe – but on a personal note, I don’t want my politicians to be cool. If they are, I mean really are, then fine. If they are a bit older and have some life behind them, that’s fine as well. Man or woman, appearing in glossy magazine features is okay as well, provided such articles paint a real picture and not a breezy and fake illustration. If Miss Truss wants to be in a Sunday magazine, that’s okay too but I’m even more in tune with politicians spending time with ordinary people and actually listening to them..
Can we trust Liz Truss? That I’m not so sure about. Not when the atmosphere is so febrile and not when so many politicians are signally failing to do their rather well-paid jobs.
So whatever medium they appear in, whatever they wear, most of all I just want them to do what we elect them to do.
© Kevan James 2019.