Ten Years to Save the West - a Review

PopCon's Swift reviews Liz Truss's new book "Ten Years to Save the West"

Review of Ten Years to Save the West by Liz Truss

Swift has always rather liked Liz Truss. She is not fashionable amid the byways of what we used to call Fleet Street,  but there is a dogged determination about her which appeals; her policy ideas are (mainly) sound; and there is no de haut en bas about her. What you see is what you get.

Her new book reinforces that perception. This is probably the most searingly honest book by a politician since the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius. And that, my friends, is a compliment.

Swift has read far too many dusty tomes by politicians (probably by their researchers, in truth) with a glib series of chapters promising this or that but lacking in anything practical.

This a different type of book. We have here part autobiography, part political philosophy, and part cri de coueur. It’s a lively cocktail.

The chapters on her ealy political life are gripping. We’ve all surely been through that phase of groping towards what we really believe in? Swift, to his shame, once voted for Tony Blair for Chrissake. But it is rare to see an account by a national politician honestly tracing that journey, as opposed to the ‘I was brought up in poverty and then I realised the only solution was Keir Starmer etc etc’. Fair play to Ms Truss.

Particularly Swift feels her pain when it comes to getting things done in government. The aforesaid Tony Blair captured this when reflecting on the role of being PM. It was like, he said, being a signalman on a railway where one constantly pulled every lever yet NOTHING EVER HAPPENED.

Truss has the same experience in department after department, and she writes very well about the frustrations of trying to push the supertanker of the civil service even a few degrees to the left (or more usually) the right. It is in Swift’s experience (as a mere spectator), incredibly tough for ministers to manage the politics (parliamentary and big P political) the media, and their constituencies. It’s rotten job.

Truss is most eloquent (of course) on trying to run an administration when the Brahmins of the Treasury, the OBR, the Bank of England, and the FT are against you. She was brave and bold, and at another time would have been rewarded rather than reviled. But the power of establishment orthodoxy is mighty indeed. We don’t need to review that in detail here – it’s been done to death by every participant.

Truss herself admits that maybe a bit more festina lente (look it up) might have been better. But the book ends on an optimistic note. There is a better way. Apparently it will take ten years – one of those headline-grabbing headlines that one is never sure about. And why are they always even numbers? How about 13 years to save the world? Or seven? Maybe five might be worth a shot, given the dire state we are in, frankly.

However, disregarding time spans, Truss’s recipe ain’t at all bad, particularly as the first one is being a (proper) Conservative, and the second and third – fundamentally correct – are not just by passing a few laws, but by restructuring the state so that is genuinely reflects the views of ordinary citizens.

Hang on a sec, isn't that the where it all began? Give me a clue, it begins with D…and it ends with …cracy. Lets do it.