The Twilight Zone

The UK’s already a laughing stock, now comes Liz Truss to make things immeasurably worse. We are on the brink of a new era. After a seemingly endless leadership campaign in which the media has indulged the miserable figures of Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss with acres of newsprint and hours of screen time in some twisted pretence that this was a democratic process, it will end soon. Tomorrow she will ascend to the highest political position in the land – a test case of failing upwards – with an agenda of attacking workers’ rights and destroying environmental regulations.

As the whole of Britain discusses the social catastrophe we all face, these two putative leaders have nothing to say at all. Next week we face the appointment of a leader silent about the calamity around us. Truss can only speak about tax cuts as she babbles to the party faithful seemingly detached from reality and published gibberish in The Sun while ducking out of facing serious journalists. Her colleagues are already predicting her political demise so sure are they of her incompetence.

In Hertfordshire this week Sunak presented his case – such as it is – to Conservative party members. He faced not one question – not a single one – concerning the cost of living crisis. These people inhabit a different world from the rest of us. If they have nothing to say about socio-economic collapse, what they have to say about ecological catastrophe is actually worse.

As Pakistan goes under water, Truss, playing to the gallery apparently intends to issue up to 130 drilling licences for oil and gas firms in the North Sea. Not only is this environmental suicide, as Owen Jones writes: “If the purpose of this is to confront the looming social catastrophe of energy bills, to describe it as an exercise in futility would be generous: it takes the best part of three decades to pump fossil fuels out of the ground and put them onstream.”

How can this madness be explained?

Owen again: “It is undoubtedly that the ideological predilections of the Tory right are prioritised above the Earth’s survival, energy independence and people’s livelihoods. Renewables are indelibly culturally associated with dangerous lefty nonsense, while gas and oil somehow represent macho British tradition. That the case for renewables is based both on pragmatic economics and incontrovertible scientific facts is irrelevant. It is hard not to conclude, too, that an addiction to waging eternal culture war is at play.”

Our actual destiny is being guided by a relative handful of people driven by a macabre ideology. This is true of the Brexit fiasco unfolding before our eyes, and now putting a torch to our climate targets and hopes. After the summer in which Europe has burnt and its rivers dried up the flickering consciousness of ecological breakdown has been fanned by everyday reality, this is a moment of shame.

How could someone as palpably dense as Truss have stumbled into this position? How can we be facing the prospect of a leader actually worse than Boris Johnson? What is this?

One explanation is that Truss is a puppet, albeit not a very good one. The ridiculous and tragic oil and gas proposals have not come out of nowhere. They are not, as presented, some pragmatic reaction to our current crisis. As Adam Bychawski has identified a string of Truss policies and campaign staff originate from the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), the Adam Smith Institute and the Centre for Policy Studies.

These ‘think-tanks’ with their murky funding have been lurking in plain-sight for years and now have their moment. As Bychawski writes in Open Democracy: “Truss is particularly close to the IEA, having founded its parliamentary wing FREER in 2011 and hired its former communications director to run her campaign. Her policies to scrap the planned rise in corporation tax, crack down on the right to strike, review inheritance tax, loosen financial solvency regulation and deregulate the childcare sector were all first proposed by the IEA. None of the think tanks discloses its funders, but the IEA has received donations from BP and ExxonMobil and, along with the Adam Smith Institute and the Centre for Policy Studies, the tobacco industry. The IEA and the Adam Smith Institute have also received millions of dollars from US funders of climate denial.”

Truss may be clueless and silent but she’s being fed her lines from these bodies. We can see it but we can’t necessarily stop it. We should be aware that our next Prime Minister is the puppet of dark money. This may not be new but it seems more blatant, the stakes more bleak and urgent and the lack of agency among our Tory masters even more depressing.

England has had its joint hottest summer on record, tying with 2018 in data stretching back to 1884, the Met Office has said. 33 million people in Pakistan have been affected by the worst flooding in a decade and more than 1,200 people have died. In Japan they are issuing umbrellas to schoolchildren to protect them from the sun. The Rhine, one of Europe’s most important rivers which is used to transport cargo including chemicals, grains, and coal across the continent, is drying up amid record-breaking summer heatwaves. The Loire is so low that France has had to shut down the nuclear reactors which the river is used to cool.

Truss’s response? She will do her masters bidding: call for a windfall tax on the renewables industry and an end to the UK’s target to cut net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050. The ban on fracking will be lifted within weeks.

In a fifty year period England has gone from Rivers of Blood to Rivers of Shit as this detached clique rules over us, ignores the worlds problems and engages in its own ideological frenzy. We are entering the Twilight Zone. It may well be, as some Tory colleagues think, that Truss will be such an abject disaster she will be out within months. Some are already organising her replacement. But what damage can someone do in their short time in power? We’re about to find out.


Comments (10)

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  1. Squigglypen says:

    Who cares about England. Heard them say once again on Talk TV this morning that they subsidise Scotland…grrrrr! So being the caring clan we are we’ll go and save them the money and they can keep their monarchy…..and I’m sure we can come to some decent terms re buying our water …and we own it!
    For Scotland!

    PS Excellent assessment as usual Mr Small.

  2. SleepingDog says:

    Dark money from oil companies used by the British state to steer political agendas through fronts has a long history, and the deranged and corrupt Cold War mindsets have never been purged from the festering shadows of the British establishment:
    How Shell and BP financed Britain’s Cold War propaganda machine
    Perhaps her backers have already planned Truss’ assassination to justify further authoritarian crackdowns.

  3. Dougie Blackwood says:

    I fear this assessment to be spot on accurate. Unfortunately most of the electorate read the Daily Mail, The Sun, The Express and the Mirror. Where are these assessments within these propaganda machines? The phrase “bread and circuses” springs to mind; the handouts, in the pipeline and to come, make no real attempt to tackle our existential problems and we can get to watch every England football match; such are the concerns and solutions we are faced with.

    1. SleepingDog says:

      @Dougie Blackwood, another propaganda machine comes to mind. I have been watching David Dimbleby’s Days that Shook the BBC series; more to see the mindset of insiders and the limits of institutional self-criticism rather than for any great revelations. Episode 1 chuffs on about BBC ‘independence’, yet in the same episode, Dimbleby completely (yet seemingly obliviously) undermines this:
      David Dimbleby (ep1 36:35): “In my experience, the BBC is more scared of the Palace than it is of number 10 Downing Street… The relationship has intentionally been made very close… You cover the royal events in a dignified way, but you never challenge the idea of monarchy.”
      That whole exposition is worth listening to. Exactly how he thinks a royal-chartered institution purpose-built as a royalist propaganda machine can properly be called ‘independent’ is central to these mysteries, and of course royalism has been central to the Tory-Conservative platform over centuries.

  4. Gordon Benton says:

    We in Scotland (and Wales and N Ireland) can say this is the English voters’ choice, and, given a fair wind, will shortly be theirs alone to live with. What we have seen over these past few years is beyond parody. Whether it is the unconscionable and outrageous lying, the mismanagement and lack of any obvious talent in government, the energy stitch up, the uncounted £ millions and billions made during Covid, or the tax haven wealth not unrelated to the poverty around this 5th wealthiest country in the World, we look on in some wonder and considerable concern as to how badly it will affect us, England’s close neighbour. The World looks on with not a little bemusement at what was once the self-styled mighty Great Britain.

  5. James Mills says:

    We have Food Banks , with Warm Banks coming to a city near you soon . Next up – the Workhouses !

    Tories put the ”Great” in Great Britain .

  6. Alex McCulloch says:

    Boris writes to Liz after his £20 kettle jape……

    Hi Liz , just did the kettle skit do encourage you that you can say whatever you want and do whatever you like!
    You can spout gibberish, you can patronise , do it for a dare or a bet even!
    You don’t have to think before you speak, say rubbish and completely get away with it!
    Nobody’s bothered, as long as we demonise foreigner’s and trade unions they will still vote for us in their droves!
    I just put this out so I could tip you the wink and give you confidence that you can absolutely let rip with looking after our own and re-instating good old empirical values.
    No one will bat an eyelid and our fanzines will tell them what we want anyway – It’s brilliant !
    Good luck , I’ll come back and let you away for a jolly in a few years if they turn nasty.
    Yours Boris

    P.S. Make sure we keep the Jocks in victim status, shouting tit for tat and whinging – if they start talking about positive alternatives and a different future path we’re sunk!

  7. John Wood says:

    Truss has no legitimacy as our PM and no democratic mandate at all – anywhere in the UK, but least of all in Scotland. If the Queen fails to stand up for our democracy and meekly appoints her as PM, she will have failed in her duty as head of state and needs to go too.

    She is a puppet of the World Economic Forum, whose agenda is to make the world a better place for themselves, at any cost. They mean to take complete control and possession of the entire planet and don’t do ‘democracy’ at all: we just have to do as we are told. Klaus Schwab said in 2020 “To achieve a better outcome, the world must act jointly and swiftly to revamp all aspects of our societies and economies, from education to social contracts and working conditions. Every country, from the United States to China, must participate, and every industry, from oil and gas to tech, must be transformed. In short, we need a “Great Reset” of capitalism.” ( And they have been busy doing just that ever since.

    1. SleepingDog says:

      @John Wood, the Queen is, of course, an implacable and resolute arch-enemy of democracy at home and abroad, has a long-time hobby of subverting Parliamentary legislation and bypassing Parliamentary process, is real fan of draconian secrecy, and has used the armed thugs of Empire to enrich herself, her family and a foul coterie of hangers-on. Unlike the Pope, there’s precious little chance of her apologising for anything.

      When considering the Queen’s score on the seven principles of public life, even the term ‘epic fail’ pales as a description:–2

    2. 220906 says:

      Liz Truss has as much legitimacy as our PM as Nicola Sturgeon has as our FM. Each holds her office in virtue of the fact that she is the leader of the party that can command a majority of votes in the UK and Scottish parliament respectively and not because she was elected to her office.

      And it’s not just Klaus Schwab and the World Economic Forum but everyman and his dog that’s saying that, to avoid global catastrophe, the world needs a radical reset of its economic and social foundations, that to imagine we can just carry on as usual is to stick your head in the sand.

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