Liz Truss's government looks set to be even more right wing than Boris Johnson's – Angus Robertson MSP
As we emerge from the mourning period for Queen Elizabeth, the appalling state of the economy and poverty being faced by too many people in the UK will be a shock to most. Rocketing energy costs, spiralling inflation and an extremely difficult winter is in prospect.
In the past weeks, inflation has reached a 40-year high, with food price inflation at a 14-year high. The UK’s trade deficit is the worst on record. The price of the pound has fallen to a 37-year low against the US dollar.
New analysis by the Financial Times shows income inequality is so wide in the United Kingdom that, while there is a well-off minority, the poorest are really badly off.
By way of contrast, the poorest Irish have a standard of living almost 63 per cent higher than the poorest in the UK, which is set to be overtaken by countries like Slovenia.
It is a huge moment for us all. New Prime Minister Liz Truss and her government must step up and give assurance to the people of the UK that they will be helped through the trying times ahead. So far, it has shown us that it is going to be, though it might not have seemed possible, even more right-wing than Boris Johnson’s government.
So, who are the leaders chosen to turn the UK’s fortunes around? It is no exaggeration to say many Cabinet posts have been given to the remainder of the parliamentary Tory party not yet to have held (and then resigned from) ministerial office. It also features a number of familiar faces who instil no confidence that the interests of the public will be looked out for.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the new Business and Energy Secretary, has previously advocated the abolition of the minimum wage and the removal of human rights legislation. He has shown disdain for the fight against climate change, voicing support for fossil fuels and suggesting the urgent need to tackle this existential issue is “climate alarmism”.
The new Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng has indicated he will abolish the cap on banker’s bonuses, an action quite unbelievably out of touch and revealing of the priorities of this government.
In Friday’s mini-budget, it is expected the Chancellor will also scrap the previously planned National Insurance tax increase. Truss has portrayed this as generous relief for the public. Kwarteng says the public can look forward to the tax cut benefits from November.
According to the Institute of Fiscal Studies, the UK’s leading economic think tank, this “generous” cut will save Britain’s three million poorest households a mere 63 pence a month. Meanwhile, the cut will give those with the highest incomes a bonus of £1,800 per year.
It seems Truss’s government will be no better at looking after the government’s finances than it is at looking after yours. The proposed plan to help people with energy bills has been described as "needlessly inefficient and expensive” by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, another leading think tank.
We are in a dire situation, with a badly staffed government for the rich. In Scotland, at least we have a government that will provide extra support and seek to mitigate the harm from Westminster. That’s not a long-term solution. It could be so much better than this with independence.