The Daily Telegraph
Welcome to Trussic Park, where, from first glimpse, evolution is on hold
‘Icampaigned as a Conservative,” said the Lizosaurus Rex, “and I shall govern as a Conservative!” And all the wild Tories roared, not just at her victory but the resurrection of an idea – trapped in amber for thirty years, brought back to life like some magnificent beast in the laboratories of Trussic Park.
It was a steamy day at the Westminster swamp when MPS and activists gathered to hear the results of an overlong leadership election that feels like it began before the invention of fire. Tory men fancy themselves as apex predators. They say hello with a pat, a pinch or a punch to the shoulder – “How were your holidays, you old devil?!” – and if the conversation is very important, they will discuss the matter standing sideways, out of the corner of the mouth: “Will Liz win, Freddy?”
“She might just do it, Johnny.” “And what if she doesn’t?” “That could happen, too.”
The younger of the species no longer wears a tie; Ben Bradley was in a collarless shirt, looking buff enough to strip for a Christmas calendar.
Tom Tugendhat, I’m pleased to note, has followed my advice to keep wearing the glasses. And Michael Fabricant was sitting in a suspiciously good spot behind Liz Truss’s husband (one can imagine him slipping into the hall two hours before, posing as a cleaner, to move his name to a better seat).
Mr Truss came and went as if out of thin air: the faceless first gentleman is moved around as stealthily as furniture on a stage.
Rishi Sunak chose to go spouse-less. When his name was called, he marched into the hall alone, looking glum. They’d already been told the results backstage. All those years working in a pharmacy, for this.
Whereas Liz, who as we all know by now dragged herself up from the knife-riddled slums of Leeds, skipped out on sunshine – and when Sir Graham Brady announced she was indeed the winner, she almost leapt to the podium. I would call her energy “Thatcheresque”, but the cliché is so sexist as to be Neanderthal: we’ll have achieved true equality when a woman can run this country without being compared to Mrs T.
No, call her Reagan. Call her Hayek. She is part of a tradition. If you want to know what Liz will do, read the speech: we believe “in freedom... your ability to control your own life... in personal responsibility”.
Many voters won’t agree with that philosophy, but at least they’ll understand where the Prime Minister is coming from. She promises to be coherent in a way we’ve not seen since the Tories privatised the brontosaurus and Lord Tebbit told Piltdown man to get on his wheel and work. Proof of her constancy was her refusal to draw a veil over Boris Johnson, who was absent but unforgettable. “You are admired,” she told him, “from Kyiv to Carlisle”. Somewhere, Boris put down his scratch card and shed a tear.
Kyiv to Carlisle, though? Hmm. One might retort that this is as the crow flies, with little love to be found between or beyond – and it took journalists two seconds to remind us that Cumberland went Labour at the last local elections.
But that’s the Lefty media for you. In the absence of Keir Starmer (not heard of him? He’s big round here), they are the opposition. A widely-read Westminster email briefing that morning referred to Tory members as “swivel-eyed loons”, and by the time Liz had thanked those present for making her the happiest woman in the world, the pundit verdict on Twitter was that she was weird, hopeless, an empty vessel doomed to failure and divisive. She only got 57 per cent of the vote. “What a loser!” Come on chaps. Are we really not going to give this lady any chance at all?
Outside, we were greeted by that idiot who yells “Tories out” from dawn to dusk, and greenies hunting among the lamp posts for something to glue themselves to. It’s too early to say, but the Trussic Age looks like business as usual – and when, later, I was caught on camera standing behind Dominic Raab, a cruel colleague showed me the footage and it depressed me to see that in the midst of what should be a “fresh start”, I looked unevolved and tired.
Then again, I had eaten a vast amount of crumble for lunch.