My five-point plan to guide Liz Truss through her groaning in-tray

So, it’s finally finished. The eight-week psychodrama that was the Tory leadership contest is done. It’s all over bar the screaming. Former New York governor Mario Cuomo once said that in politics you “campaign in poetry, but govern in prose.” I don’t know about you, but I feel like we must have all missed the poetry recital in that unedifying spectacle.

Don’t get me wrong, part of me is glad we have another female Prime Minister and the four main offices of state look unlikely to be given to white, middle aged men, but that’s really the extent of the positivity I feel about it. She may well also be the first former Young Liberal since Lloyd George to reach the office of Prime Minister, but she turned her back on liberal and progressive politics long ago.

The in-tray at Number 10 is now groaning under the weight of public expectation. We have been without effective government in the teeth of the worst cost of living crisis in a century. It is evident everywhere you look and in truth, I have never known mass financial anxiety on this scale before.

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She doesn’t care what I think, but as a fellow alumni of the young Liberals, let me set out five things Liz Truss ought to do in the first days of her premiership.

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The new Prime Minister must immediately halt the October rise to energy bills and prevent further increases next year. She can do this by freezing the domestic price cap and introducing one for businesses. This can be funded by levying a proper windfall tax on the super-profits of the energy companies, which are forecast to reach £170Bn more than normal next year. This needn’t cost the taxpayer.

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Secondly, she must then begin insulating homes and commence a radical programme of investment in wind, solar and tidal energy production. Put simply, renewable power can answer our energy security needs far quicker than commissioning new nuclear power stations or drilling for new oil fields. The climate emergency hasn’t gone away.

Prime Minister Liz Truss has five priorities on taking office, writes Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP. PIC: Leon Neal.
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Next, Ms Truss should resist the urge to meddle in Scottish constitutional politics. She has displayed a worrying brand of muscular unionism which is off-putting to so many in the ‘persuadable middle’ of Scottish politics. Nicola Sturgeon has painted herself into a corner on Independence through her gambit of taking the matter to the Supreme Court and if needs be, fighting the next election on that single issue. An intervention by Liz Truss at this point would be unnecessary and unhelpful. As the saying goes- ‘never interrupt your adversary while they are making a mistake’.

Liz Truss should also dramatically shift her government’s attitude to refugees, asylum seekers and economic migrants. We could halt deadly dinghy boat crossings of the Channel if our government created safe and legal roots for refugees to reach safe harbour in Britain. We also have a labour shortage across many sectors: we need people to come here.

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And finally, while Conservative Party members have had their say, we have not. On clearing this formidable list of priorities, Truss should visit the Queen, dissolve parliament and call an election. Without doing so she won’t have a mandate of her own – and no amount of poetry or prose is going to change that.

Alex Cole-Hamilton is the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats and MSP for Edinburgh Western.