This isn't the glittering new dawn the Tories would like us to believe - Alex Cole - Hamilton

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Happy Diwali! And particularly so to our first ever Hindu Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak. In the spirit of the festival of light I want to take a moment to congratulate him and reflect on the fact that as I write this, we have a Hindu Prime Minister, a Muslim Mayor of London and at least at the point this column was penned, a Jewish Home Secretary. Politics aside, that is a powerful endorsement of the success of multiculturalism in UK society.

But I’m afraid that is where my good will runs dry. The damage caused by the Conservative psychodrama will be long lasting and it will cause pain to millions. In just 44 days, Liz Truss has singularly proven that trickle-down economics - making the rich richer in the hope that they’ll pass on some of that cash to those beneath them - is a myth. That she would use the UK economy as a petri dish to discover that is utterly horrifying and we are all now paying the cost of her arrogant ineptitude.

Scottish Nationalists take note, when you do stupid things with the economy, the global markets will not hesitate to punish you. The measure of the punishment they have handed down to UK taxpayers in response to the failed experiment of Truss-onomics has yet to be fully realised, but we can already feel it. Surging interest rates are leading to 932,000 people in the UK seeing their mortgages rise, just at a time when life in Scotland has never been so hard, and pension funds remain in real danger.

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We face enormous questions and I’m far from convinced that Rishi Sunak has the answers to any of them.

This isn’t the glittering new dawn the Conservatives would have us believe. Rishi Sunak signed the cheques for Boris Johnson’s brand of politics for more than two years. He was a witness to, and even a participant in the Downing Street culture that brought the Johnson administration down. Don’t forget he was fined for breaching lockdown rules at a time when women were being asked to give birth alone and people said good by to loved ones via Zoom. The people of this country have a long memory.

The new Prime Minister will this week unveil a new cabinet but the faces will be familiar, each of them drawn from previous, failed administrations. The policy programme will be one of tax rises and spending cuts. We desperately need a reset. That's why my party is putting forward an alternative plan to get Britain back on its feet again, one that is focused on cutting costs for ordinary people, investing in insulation and boosting renewables to help people weather the energy crisis this winter and making bankers and oil company execs pay their way.

Rishi Sunak has no mandate to speak of - not from the public and not even from within the membership of his own party. It won’t happen, but I wish that his first official act as PM was to visit the King for a second time this week, ask him to dissolve parliament and call a General Election. It’s time the people had their say.

Alex Cole-Hamilton is Leader of Scottish Liberal Democrats and MSP for Edinburgh Western