Firstly, our unconditional thanks must be given to Greenpeace who, by staging a fantastic protest against Truss and her right-wing, anti-environmental agenda during her closing speech at the Conservative Conference in Birmingham, made Liz pull this face:
It’s been difficult to know where to begin with writing about everything that has happened over the last couple of weeks, for where to focus first? The mini-budget that tanked the pound? Kwarteng’s champagne party (another party!) and it’s distinct whiff of insider trading immediately prior to said mini-budget? Soaring interest rates and unaffordable mortgages? Rees-Mogg trying to sneak fracking through the back door, into your back garden? It’s just been one thing after another.
What particularly concerns us is that the wannabe nouveau Iron Lady has made clear that she will tolerate neither discussion nor analysis of her vague growth plan. Differing views are wholly unwelcome. From her remark about the Greenpeace protesters, ‘Let’s get them removed’, calling people who disagree with her as ‘Separatists’, to the broader new slogan ‘Anti-growth coalition.’ We even heard her say ‘Brexit deniers’ were standing in the way of her growth plan. I mean, what the hell is a Brexit denier anyway? What is it they’re denying – that it took place? Naturally, that would be ridiculous, although surely it is legitimate to question whether it is actually working?
Of course, Truss needs people to remain polarised. This is precisely the kind of divisive rhetoric that the Tory Party has dealt in and come to rely on for a long time now. No details have been given for Truss’ growth plan, we merely have sloganism, the most recent example being the empty ‘Growth, growth, growth!’ mantra. What does that even mean? What sort of growth can we expect?
Truss is fetishistically pushing a low tax economy, so the only way to balance the books is to cut spending on things that affect you and me: the NHS, public services, pensions, benefits, etc. She said, in an encoded way, that this is what we’re in for because she said she believes in a ‘lean society’.
Just to be clear – not all growth is good. For example, our arms industry has seen growth due to the war in Ukraine. Funeral directors saw growth during the height of the Covid pandemic. Our construction industry has seen massive growth due to the implementation of the HS2 railway, to the devastating detriment of the natural environment. Certain kinds of growth therefore, are toxic, damaging and depend on human misery. There are many economists and environmentalists who consider a post-capitalist, degrowth economy to be the correct way forward because growth inevitably leads to resource stripping and environmental degradations.
Indeed, as the Greenpeace protesters succinctly asked: Who voted for this? We seem to have Schröedinger’s government at the moment, one where it inherited it’s mandate to govern from Boris Johnson’s triumphal 2019 election, yet takes no responsibility for delivering any of it’s manifesto. In fact, it does the opposite of many of it’s key points and we are led to believe that they have no duty to fulfil these promises simply because Johnson has gone. There’s no mention of the new nurses and police officers that the manifesto promised. Where are the 40 new hospitals? Where is the ambitious environmental project? Why has the fracking moratorium just been lifted without any discussion?
Surely though, if they inherited the mandate, they inherited the manifesto, too? If not, then why are they governing and why aren’t we having a General Election now?
We are told that all of these awful things that we will be forced to endure are just the price of growth, growth, growth – but growth for who exactly? This is evidently the last-ditch attempt of the Nasty Party taking as much money from the UK for them and those they serve, now their halcyon days are behind them. The Tories are rather lost after Johnson’s departure. The circus is still here – my God, it’s still here – but the ringmaster has left town, taking everything with him. We now have Truss robotically trying to reassure us that everything is fine whilst throwing all that is good onto a bonfire for ideology’s sake. Her problem is that less and less people are falling for it, and the Tories are terrified.
We have talked at length about Boris Johnson being a sado-populist. With Truss at the helm, we simply have a sadist without the populist bit, thrusting us into a world of pain. She tells us we will suffer, it will be painful to get a piece of this ‘growth pie’ (her words, not ours). Any semblance of Johnson’s charming way of gaslighting us is completely absent in Truss. In her divisive speech where she spoke in absolutes, she leaves you with one choice, dear reader: whose side are you on? Choose wisely, for time is short. This is a fight we cannot afford to lose because, quite simply, everything is at stake.
~ L&A 5.10.22 ~
Jason Hickel, Less is More: How Degrowth Will Save the World, Penguin, 2020.
David Pilling, The Growth Delusion: The Wealth and Well-Being of Nations, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018.
Matthias Schmelzer, Andrea Vetter and Aaron Vansintjan, The Future is Degrowth: A Guide to a World Beyond Capitalism, Verso, 2022.