Raining Down on Elizabeth Truss’s Parade

By Neera Kuckreja Sohoni

As the UK mourns the passing away of its beloved Queen after an unprecedented reign of 70 years undoubtedly marked by her personal grace and dedication to her subjects, and a frenzied media obsesses over Elizabeth II’s golden age, coverage of Britain’s new Prime Minister Elizabeth Truss gets pushed to the backburner.

Treated as a honeymoon period, the initial few days and weeks of a president or prime minister ordinarily hog national headlines, but the Queen’s passing away along with Prince Charles’ anointment as King Charles II has taken all the oxygen away from the prime minister.

As experts of Royalty engage fulltime in assessing past and prospective trajectories of the two monarchs, an extraordinary event – the unprecedented occurrence of two women serving as prime minister and deputy prime minister – has gone largely unnoticed by a grieving populace and press.

Following the Queen’s ratification of Truss as Prime Minister on September 6, Truss appointed Thérèse Anne Coffey as Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. This would be as giddyingly groundbreaking as Hillary Clinton and Kamala Harris becoming President and Vice President!

Even when acknowledged, the female duo’s historic breakthrough was not hailed as a stand-alone victory of gender. Instead, a Woke media undercut its singular significance by focusing on the larger feature of diversity.

Any compliment if given seems half-hearted – more a jibe against the historic exclusiveness of the Conservative Party and its endeavor to shake its “pale, male and stale” image. Never mind that Truss is the third female prime minister all of whom have come from the Conservative party while the opposing party has yet to open its account!

Her ascent to the post is belittled in other sly ways by suggesting she has not been a household name, was not the initial choice of her party to lead the country, and became prime minister only after Boris Johnson announced his resignation two months ago and the party elected her to replace him.

Under the British system, after the Queen formally accepted Johnson’s resignation on September 6, Truss automatically became prime minister without requiring a general election because the Conservative party retains its majority in the House of Commons. Even though legitimate, that process is being used to belittle Truss as “a national leader selected by less than 0.5% of British adults.”

The inference is clear viz., lacking a national mandate, she comes into her post as an ‘also ran’, rather than in her own right.

The rain on her parade though unfortunate was accidental and unintended. Nevertheless, it adversely impacts the beginning of the Truss era in British politics. While that dampening must disappoint and depress her personally, it appears not to impact the speed with which she has acted and will need to continue to act.

Stepping into 10 Downing Street on September 6, she deftly used the shower-soaked day to assure the country that she was determined to help the nation “ride out the storm”.  In a brief inaugural speech to the nation, she struck a sanguine tone, “As strong as this storm may be, I know the British people are stronger. We have what it takes to tackle those challenges. Of course, it won’t be easy. But we can do it. We will transform Britain into an aspirational nation.

Truss inherits the post at a time when British and world economies and polities are quivering – having to deal with the devastation caused first by the Covid pandemic and now by the unending Ukraine war. Brexit poses its unique challenges.

Denied the luxury of any breather, Truss has quickly announced a massive state intervention in the energy markets to stabilize the high utility and energy bills to keep the coming winter’s severity bearable and affordable for users. Averse to imposing windfall levies on oil companies to pay for her plans to offset the soaring cost of heating and electricity, and determined not to drive companies away from investing in the British economy when it most needs it to grow, she categorically asserted, “This country will not be able to tax its way to growth”.

Echoes of Thatcher, Reagan and Trump are enough to have conservative politicians cancelled out in any nation. Sadly, such anti-conservative tirade hurts conservative women in top political positions most.

While condescending liberals may, do, and will certainly continue to view Truss as half-baked and novice, it is especially disheartening to see feminists and gender equality champions refraining from hailing this historic event of two women holding the highest two posts in a democracy.

For the mourning British public and a distraught media fixated on lauding the late Queen’s past, and the King’s prospective, stewardship of their country, a reminder is in order. Even at half of one percent Truss’s mandate is more in line with democracy than Britain’s monarchs who derive their divine mandate from God. Neera Kuckreja Sohoni

Images courtesy of (Image Courtesy: The Guardian) and pROVIDED

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