Sunday, October 16, 2022

Liz Truss must have been a bad councillor too

Journalists tend to be snobbish about politicians who begin their careers in local government, but being a councillor provides a first-class political education.

In particular, it forces you to test whatever values and favourite policies you have acquired against real-world problems that are not of your choosing.

So far so good. I typed that a couple of days ago, intending to add the observation that Liz Truss would not be such a callow ideologue if she had served as a councillor and post it.

Then I told myself that I was being silly. Truss had served as a minister and cabinet minister of years, so she has plenty of experience. I deleted the draft post.

Luckily, yesterday morning I heard the latest The Rest of Politics podcast, in which everybody's favourite ex-Tory, Rory Stewart, remarks right at the end:

"You can hide as a cabinet minister. It's very, very easy to hide, particularly if you're a trade minister or a foreign minister. You get to take photographs in front of flags with dignitaries, you don't really have to deliver on policy and the prime minister carries the can."

Feeling much happier, I put this post up. Almost at once, a reader reminded me that Truss had been a councillor in Greenwich for four years before she got to Westminster.

So I took the post down again.

I pondered how to make sense of this contradiction as I wandered Market Harborough in autumn sunshine this afternoon. And I think I've got it.


She must have been a bad councillor too.

Thank you.


SJ said...

You can read some recollections of one of her Labour opponents in Greenwich here -

None of it is very surprising. Apparently she is the first prime minister since John Major to have held office in local government so I’m really not sure your thesis holds water. I think that being a counsellor CAN be a fantastic political education, but as with all education it doesn’t really work unless you want to learn!

Anonymous said...

Theresa May was a councillor in Merton 1986-94

Matt Pennell said...

Every level of Gov't comes with different roles and responsibilities. Even if you're at the bottom rung - I was a Parish Cllr - you learn a lot. I saw how much ppl waste time on projects that are never carried out and ppl pursuing personal agendas. In the end I concerned myself with things that were free or cost hardly any money - removing graffiti, litterpicking, reporting vandalism, abandoned cars and blocked drains.

I'm sure none of those were in Truss's remit