Monday 1 August 2022

Truss & Sunak: from the front line

Writing as a paid-up member of the elite selectorate, I can report on what we found from each of the candidates over the weekend.  Mrs Drew and I don't lightly wield our block-vote of 2, so we went in as open-minded as possible.  

Sunak was first, on Friday morning.  He was slick, cheerful; the meeting was a simple church hall affair, and very open.   If I say it all went without a hitch, you'll wonder why (so just read on).  Sunak has his set lines, but answered questions plainly and with nuanced answers; he didn't (always) just give questioners what they were asking for.  The invited audience was card-carrying South London Tories, and the demographic attending was what you find these days, on average, in South London - not remotely the "70-year old white" Tory profile of legend.  The pic below indicates clearly enough the straightforwardness of it.  We were promised refreshments and there were some.  We were promised a signed bottle of champagne to auction, and there was one.  No entry fee.

(That's himself in the throng, below, talking to the blue-turbaned Sikh.  Yes, he really is that small.)

Then Truss.  All very cloak-and-dagger: a "secret" special guest (turned out to be Tugendtwat as warm-up act); apply by eventbrite and you'd only be told the secret venue a few hours beforehand.  Which was ... an aircraft maintenance hangar at Biggin Hill Airport.  There were no chairs (- why would there be, in an aircraft maintenance hangar, ho ho! -) until someone told the airport staff there'd be a walkout if they couldn't rustle up a few.  Airport security telling people not to take photos inside the hangar (this was relaxed for photos of herself).  Stewards coming round pressing envelopes on attendees for "contributions" and entry to a raffle for a bottle of gin; and there wasn't one.  We were promised water, juice and "Hon Nobs" (sic!), and there was water.  Perhaps Tugendtwat was the Hon. Nob.

Truss was awful.  Wild, unqualified promises.  "I will reform the ECHR" (has she told them this?) etc etc.  The invited audience was South London Tories again ... and the demographic attending was almost entirely white.

And she's the favourite?  Blimey, this is dire.



Anonymous said...

Sunak is in, because the alternative makes Boris look like Churchill, Lloyd George, D'Israeli and Palmerston rolled into one.

Bill Quango MP said...

Sukak is out.
Because the alternative is not ever more taxation.

Rishi seems to have lost the members. And the runners. Only the MP vote is his. And that’s the turncoat vote if he can’t look like he’s going to win.

Austerity followed by lockdown followed by cost of living crisis and energy crisis and inflation crisis snd interest rate rise personal debt crisis still possibly to come.

Who wants to hear,

‘raise taxes to save the NHS! The debt is beyond the ability to pay. We must cut wages, increase taxes, lower living standards. It’s the only way. It will be worse if we don’t.’

Even though he is correct.

He’s a bad candidate anyway. Can’t have a non Dom billionaire chancellor/ PM.
Not in UK. This isn’t America. He won’t be able to carry it off. “ I feel your pain! So I’m putting up your taxes to help you.”
Not going to work.

Lioness Liz. Mother of the nation. Three random ideas a day. Pick any one to announce, one to store, one to throw back in the ideas pool.

Boris on heels.
Without the charm.

James Higham said...

A most interesting read. We needed some feedback from inside.

Elby the Beserk said...

The horror, the horror...

DJK said...

Does it matter? "Events, dear boy, events" are going to steamroller whoever wins. Boris is lucky that he won't be the rabbit, blinking at the oncoming headlights. And frankly, the difference in the policies that the two alternatives will be allowed to enact are trivial.

Truss may be bonkers and Sunak may be persuasive and articulate, but Sunak with his Californian home, green card and non-dom wife is hardly showing that he thinks there's a future in the UK. But whoever wins, we may as well prepare for a Starmer-led government in a couple of years.

Diogenes said...

One comment on Truss - so dense that light bends round her.

Anyway, this is all a warm up for the main event. The knifing of the successor and the anointment of the chosen one. The one called Boris.

The party's financial supporters want their monies worth and a seat in the HoL. Boris can supply and willingly so.

Matt said...

Isn't the whole Sunak USP that he is slick. So, not a surprise he can put on a good show.

And that Lizzy's USP is her intelligence -so no surprise she can't run a piss up in a brewery.

As others have said, what a choice!

Anonymous said...

"Sunak with his Californian home, green card and non-dom wife is hardly showing that he thinks there's a future in the UK"

Yes, I seem to remember another carpetbagger called David Miliband who loved Britain so much he legged it when he couldn't be be Labour leader.

Mind, can you see Boris as a backbencher? Only if he thinks there's a chance of a recall, which with the poor field of contenders there may even be.

Cameron legged it the moment he lost his referendum. Blair legged it too, to spend more time with his money. Makes one nostalgic for Ted Heath, a pretty big ask. Is he the last party leader to stay on the benches after being replaced? Jim Callaghan stayed in the commons until 1987.

Nick Drew said...

Anon: err, May. IDS. Hague...

etc etc

Anonymous said...

The Civil Service win whoever is chosen.

BlokeInBrum said...

Does Liz have to be that intelligent to be successful as PM?

Perhaps she just needs the wit to appoint the right people around her.

Just as Boris had Cummings as his right hand man, who does she have as Consigliere?

We've just had a succession of PM's who were far too clever by half, and have caused untold damage because of it. Mebbe a plodder is the right choice this time around, or is that just a cope?

Anonymous said...

"Just as Boris had Cummings as his right hand man, who does she have as Consigliere?"

Boris in a sense owed his job to Dom, both because of the referendum result and the 2019 election when Dom was strategist. So it was impolitic to bin his adviser and we've seen how long he lasted flying solo. Guto Harri seems a nice chap but out of his depth as media guy, reporting is very different from doing.

A pity Dom went vengeful after being defenestrated though. Brilliant as he is, who's going to trust him now?

BlokeInBrum said...

Yes, never go full retard.

The public need someone on the inside with brains, strategic nous, and a laser like focus on the things that need to get done.

The apparatus of state needs a good shake up, but even is Truss is the one to do it she'll never survive first contact with the enemy (civil servants ).

lilith said...

None of it matters. Klaus Schwab is Our Leader these days.

E-K said...

I can't see either of those being a match for Mick Lynch who is most UNlike Arthur Scargill.

There are viral videos of him tearing political commentators and Tories to shreds. He does it with Labourites too when they need it.

I'd LOVE to see him go head to head with Sunak and Truss. That would be a true test of their depth and their mettle.

E-K said...

Face it. The Tories have opted for Continuity Blairism... again !

Their identikit candidates simply cannot do straight talking and cannot face a straight talker.

(I can see the faults in Lynch and his Union's position btw - for another discussion.)

E-K said...

Eddie Dempsey (RMT) making the Tories look like the total weasels they are.

I'm an instinctive Conservative voter and have done so for most of my life.

I am utterly disappointed that my three year pay freeze (done willingly during a time of crisis) goes unmentioned by the Tory press and the Government and yet the passengers are still suffering year-on-year RPI rises in fares.

So much for the wages being the inflationary factor in our industry.

The one and only reason I'm 'overpaid' is the botched Tory rail privatisation that fragmented the industry into different companies and forced them to auction for competent drivers.

They will be very mistaken if they think they are dealing with Arthur Scargills this time. Dempsey and Lynch are far more calm, intelligent, communicative and nuanced and I don't think they are Marxist. We have yet to see anything like Scargill's pugnacity.

They are certainly connecting with the betrayed Red Wall voters and the Uberised workers in the private sector and make Schapps look like a total tosser.

Matt said...

@ E-K

Looks like the typical socialist prat to me. At about 2 minutes into the video he's prattling on about privatising the NHS and social housing.
The main complaint seems to be the rolling stock leasing companies providing no value. But any lease is a balance between having to find money up-front vs paying on the never-never. Whatever these pint pot intellectuals think, there can be value in that.

E-K said...


It is quite clear that me taking a three year pay freeze has not stopped RPI inflation in rail fares. Nor is it being acknowledged by the Tories nor the Tory press.

What's the reason ? Billions of taxpayers' money being syphoned off out of the railways into off shore tax havens. The RMT can show you where. They are proper details people in the RMT. They study contracts assiduously and they understand inflation and money flow. It is not that the rolling stock leasing companies provide no value... it is that they literally plunder the system ! Then the offshore it whilst providing inferior stock.

The NHS is being raped by privateers too. It's not nurses' and junior doctors' wages driving up inflation. Though my boy's partner's Dad is an educated leading engineer and over dinner told me that he has studied NHS accounts and spotted that much of the NHS budget goes to private Consultants.

Social housing is a serious issue for the majority of voters. It impacts most in one way or another. Why shouldn't a Union leader mention what affects his lower paid member's standard of living during stagflation ?

It is also right to point out that we were promised that inflation wouldn't rise if we were modest about pay expectations. This has been proven to be completely untrue.

You may call Dempsey a socialist prat (and in doing so you insult my intelligence, because I don't think there's anything wrong with some socialism) but I'm just showing you how inferior Truss and Sunak are and why the Tories are toast. They have lost the Red Wall and they have lost the likes of me too. I no longer care if Labour get in. In fact I would vote for them if Dempsey or Lynch were in charge but I know that Lynch is not affiliated to any party.

I (an erstwhile Tory voter of the Thatcher ilk) find myself questioning Thatcherism and cheering this guy to the rafters.

Here is Lynch doing details on some unwitting Tory's arse. Obviously she is not used to reading through contracts nor dealing with straight talkers. As a negotiator Nick will appreciate that this guy is formidable:

PS, To repeat (because it is so important) qualified rail workers' pay was ramped up entirely by botched privatisation which created a market for competent labour between companies which were under the cosh of severe performance penalties. The workers' pay relative to the money that could be filched via leasing, maintainance and fare charging scams was tiny and so worth the owning corporations' sacrifice.

Renationalisation is the last thing I wanted as a driver but here it is in effect. Privatisation mismanaged is every bit as bad as socialism mismanaged. I've done my best to invest my money wisely in healthy food, exercise, experiences, property, pensions and education knowing that it couldn't last forever.

I'm already thinking about my next career move and am prepped physically and mentally for it. This is sad because I have 31 year's experience and currently use 7 years worth of skills courses and link progression training that it took to get me to the level I am (a test train driver, regional and multi signalling system and multi traction passenger driver competent in all rules and regs of operational and degraded condition, faults and failures and incident control.)

Apparently I should be paid the same as a lorry driver.

Matt said...

@ E-K

Let's assume that billions of taxpayers money is being siphoned off into tax havens. Who wrote the piss-poor contracts that allowed this to happen? It won't have been just some Evil-Tory minister, in some cases it'll have been a Labour minister, and in the bulk of cases it'll have been the civil service (in one guise or another).

And yet, the answer to the problem seems to be to bring these things under the control of the idiots who screwed it up in the first place!

In what alternative universe would that work?

If the rail industry was privatised, why wouldn't the Evil Tories reduce the pay of the hard working staff anyway? Or is the assumption of the union leaders that they'll get a Labour government who'll do right by the common man?

DJK said...

Matt: The Tories have been in power for 12 years, so whatever the problems are with rail contracts, they own it. (Although maybe not in Scotland).

The selfless paragons who can negotiate and manage contracts efficiently and cheaply simply do no exist in the numbers required for rail internal markets, or an NHS internal market. And yet the Tory party (and Labour too, to some extent) are still in thrall to the 1980s doctrine that creating a market solves all price and supply issues.

Markets can be a wonderfully efficient means of allocating resources but there are far too many cases where they fail. (See American health care). Coase's theory of the firm is relevant here too; sometimes it's just cheaper and more efficient to allocate resources through a limited command economy. Deciding which rolling stock should run on which set of rails is probably one of those cases.

Matt said...


Since we're trading economists, Hayek argued that no central planner can act upon information as efficiently as the market.

So, where are the selfless paragons who can determine the best rolling stock for the rails going to come from?

Matt said...

Realised I made a significant typo:

If the rail industry was NATIONALISED, why wouldn't the Evil Tories reduce the pay of the hard working staff anyway? Or is the assumption of the union leaders that they'll get a Labour government who'll do right by the common man?

DJK said...

Matt: That one's easy. You create integrated railway companies that operate track, signals, trains, and who procure their own rolling stock within an allocated budget. Sub-optimal choices may get made but at least a whole bureaucracy of contracts departments, MBAs and lawyers, together with big opportunities for rent-seeking and grift, is eliminated. Likewise with hospitals. Why not let clinicians make the important choices? They may need to be told to restrict their choice of drugs or procedures by whoever is tracking money outlays but creating and then tracking contracts between providers for each patient is just a sure fire way of spaffing away money.

andrew said...

@Matt and DJK

Coase pointed out that firms make sense _up_to_a_point_ that point being where one 'person' (or organisation) is able to understand what is happening and needs to be done and that is why they get so big and then stop growing

I stopped voting tory because they privatised the railways and that was so obviously stupid even at the time. and then voted for Blair (to my shame).

Hayek says that in a complex system no one 'person' can encompass enough knowledge to run it as efficiently as if decisions are decentralised to 'people'

Basically (IMO and I am not an economist) they say pretty much the same thing.

In the case of the railways there is one bristol-london line and about 5 stops in-between. The rest of the system is not that big - as such this should have been run / managed / maintained by one 'person'

I could go on and explain how the NHS is truly complex and supports an enormous rang of differing and complex needs (Bournemouth is not Liverpool) but because of central whitehall control has many of the worse aspects of a centralises command economy are combined with the nastier features of privatisation salami style - where one limited service is outsourced but all the external risks are left with the NHS.
This can make money for the outsourcer but good luck if something goes wrong.

My contribution - selfless paragons
- adam smith - there are no selfless paragons :)

E-K said...

Matt - 12 years of Tory rule ?

Who is it they choose to take on ? The corrupt privateers ? Or the lowly cleaners !

There is oik-o-phobia in this country of the highest order. That an oik like me should dare to be able to articulate an argument and to elevate his own offspring to a higher position without any aid whatsoever via private schooling or an expensive house within catchment of an excellent 'state' school. Simply through sheer intelligence, guile and determination.

Tories cannot stand it.

They could not stand me being able to keep my missus at home educating the kids.

So they immigrate loads of blokes via the RNLI to challenge our position.

They hide behind Greta Thunberg to rape us with petrol and hide behind George Floyd to control our political choices.

They gift their mates top contracts and syphon billions in taxpayers' money via the privatised systems. (When was the last reservoir built bearing in mind record drought and record population ?) and then blame workers on pay freezes (endured in some cases for decades) for inflation.


The intelligent working class are finally awakening in the UK and they do not fit the pejorative 'Marxist' description and the lack of the recruitment of them in the Tory ranks is precisely why this latest post on C@W is about two slimey wankers.

Please re-watch the Dempsey video and tell me what on earth he's said wrong.

Matt said...


Is this integrated rail company publicly owned?

DJK said...

E-K: I watched the Dempsey video --- very impressive.

On the Tory leadership contest, Rory Sutherland puts it well: "The Conservative party leadership contest is a milestone for diversity and inclusion. This time, we get to choose between someone who studied philosophy, politics and economics at Lincoln College, Oxford and someone who studied philosophy, politics and economics at Merton College, Oxford. I can barely contain my excitement."

dearieme said...

"Is this integrated rail company publicly owned?"

The public won't own it: it'll be owned by some combination of politicians, civil servants, and union leaders. Never by the public.

Don Cox said...

A major rethink of the Oxford PPE degree is obviously needed.

I read zoology at Oxford, and I find the subject very helpful when studying politicians. It was an excellent degree course, taught by people who really knew their subjects.

I wish I had been a better student.


Thud said...

E.k. how would anything have been better under Corby?

E-K said...

Thud - we got everything I feared under Corbyn and in spades !

Record levels of immigration, record taxes, an explosion in the useless state and greenism and Woke on speed.

80 seat Tory majority FFS.

RMT doesn't like Corbyn either. Lynch is not affiliated to any party.

PS ... I offer DJK's 5.29 as Comment of the Day.

Matt said...

What would happen with this "integrated rail company" if it were private or publicly owned?

If private, it would be set-up with a subsidiary owning the rolling stock (another ROSCO) and leasing/provifing it to a separate train operating company (TOC) entity within the group. The leasing (or transfer pricing) would be the same £3 billion the talking heads in the union are bitching about. Staff and customers would be just as shafted as they are now - perhaps more so if a monopoly was created across the country.

If public, the government would run it on a shoestring as other priorities would come first (the NHS being the obvious example). Therefore the smart people (i.e. not selfless paragons) who were making a fortune in the ROSCO would bugger off to find a more lucrative job. That would leave those who couldn't (or wouldn't) find another job to write contracts for new rolling stock - probably facing off against one of the smart people who left. The result of this would an overly expensive contract where the public purse is yet again purloined because we pitted people with no incentive to protect taxpayer money against red-blooded capitalist who sense a weak prey.

Be interested to know if anyone can provide a realistic scenario where the public end up with a better service at lower cost. Please ensure you take into account that the government (civil service) have zero incentive to do anything other than the bare minimum and the vultures are on the lookout for any opportunity to stick their snouts in the trough of public money.