At Conservative leadership events over the summer, Liz Truss supporters held signs and sported T-shirts that read “In Liz we Truss.”
But the faith of Conservative Party members in the likely next Prime Minister is far from being reflected more widely across the UK.
When, as expected, Truss enters No. 10 next week to find an input tray brimming with difficult issues, the lack of trust in his office will be among the thorniest to resolve.
Over the past few decades, politicians, not least because of the Conservative shenanigans of the 1990s and the MP expense scandal of 2009, have not enjoyed the full trust of the public.
Trust in British democracy and the state has sunk to new depths under Boris Johnson with his rejection of normal conventions of government.
When he won a landslide victory in 2019, his relaxed relationship with the truth was already well known – but enough voters were willing to put that aside in exchange for his stimulus and Brexit promises, and because they didn’t like Jeremy Corbyn’s alternative.
But whatever trust he won among that section of the population over Brexit, he had already squandered with others by proroguing Parliament, and later by his willingness to break international law on the Northern Ireland protocol.
Johnson’s constant attacks on Brussels, the judiciary and the civil service may have been politically convenient, but they have further eroded trust in national institutions.
His hubristic handling of a series of self-inflicted scandals over the past year – Owen Paterson, Partygate and Chris Pincher – has left his integrity mortally wounded and public trust even further diminished.
His final days in office were spent digging into the political gutter, asking barrister Lord Pannick to try to bail him out at the next Commons inquiry into whether he lied to MPs about Partygate.
Just 18% of voters think Johnson is telling the truth “most of the time”, according to pollster Ipsos. But Truss, who ran as the ‘Boris of Continuity’ candidate in a bid to shore up the Tories’ shaky but election-winning electoral coalition, doesn’t fare much better at 22%.
She has previously said she would vote to drop the Partygate investigation and declined to commit to reappointing an ethics counselor, saying she “has always acted with integrity.”
“I don’t make promises I can’t keep and I’m a direct person who tells it like it is,” she said at a party.
But her record during the leadership campaign, and before that in government, suggests she is not as honest as she likes to pretend, and raises questions about whether she will deliver on her campaign promises.
A senior Tory said: ‘With everything stacked against her, Liz has to be upfront with people and keep her promises. All the signs so far suggest that she won’t either.
Truss’ claims that his former Leeds school was ‘letting down’ children have been furiously denied by former pupils.
She quickly backed out of her regional wages commission plans after Tory MPs in the North made a fuss about them, undermining the leveling.
She criticized those who “badged the country”, although she herself suggested that British workers did not have the transplant of foreign rivals.
The political consequences for her of further undermining government trust, transparency and integrity could be enormous. The first trait voters look for in a new prime minister is honesty, even before they come into contact with ordinary people or a strong leader.
By contrast, his leadership rival Rishi Sunak has made ‘rebuilding trust’ a key part of his campaign, and has repeatedly said it will only be achieved by being honest with the public. about the economic pain to come.
Truss took a different approach. “I know there are tough predictions out there, but predictions are not fate,” she said during an election campaign. “What we shouldn’t do is drag ourselves into a recession. We should keep taxes low. »
Team Sunak admits they had the best strategy to win over conservative members wearing t-shirts and waving banners, but an insider predicts: ‘This approach won’t win the country. She promised what she can’t keep. The worst thing you can do as a party, when people are already disappointed in politics, is to give them even more reasons for it.