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June 24, 2024

Truss Launches “Popular Conservatism” Faction to Overhaul Tories

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Feb 7, 2024

Former British Prime Minister Liz Truss launched a new Conservative faction called “Popular Conservatism” (or “Popcons”) this week, seeking to push the party further to the right on issues like tax cuts and immigration. The surprise move comes just months after Truss’ brief and chaotic tenure as PM, and reflects ongoing divisions within the Conservative party.

Truss Calls for “War on Whitehall Woke-ocracy”

At the Tuesday launch event, Truss decried what she called the “woke-ocracy” infiltrating Whitehall and warned of left-wing extremists in the civil service obstructing the government’s agenda. She argued Britain has become too risk averse and cautious, declaring “the status quo is not an option.”

“For too long politicians from all sides have been ignoring what people want and what the country needs,” Truss told the crowd gathered at a London church. “We have been tied down by lefty London luvvies, the Brussels bureaucrats, the militant unions and the M25 eco-protestors.”

She vowed that the Popcons would fight back against these forces and push for a more ambitious low-tax, small state, pro-business agenda. Truss notably did not criticize current PM Rishi Sunak or the general direction of the Conservative government. However, other Popcon supporters like Jacob Rees-Mogg argued the Tories must do more to excite their traditional voter base.

“We need proper Tory policies for the country to make it excited about Conservatism,” said Rees-Mogg. “We had them under Boris Johnson but now seem to be getting Socialist big state policies.”

**Key Figures Behind “Popular Conservatism”** **Stated Goals and Priorities**
  • Liz Truss
  • Jacob Rees-Mogg
  • Nigel Farage
  • Lee Anderson
  • Ann Widdecombe
  • John Redwood
  • Therese Coffey
  • Cutting taxes
  • Reducing immigration
  • Fighting “woke ideology”
  • Reforming civil service
  • Empowering grassroots party members
  • Delivering Brexit opportunities
  • Rebuilding British economy

The launch event had a festive atmosphere, with Truss dramatically entering to the Bridal Chorus music commonly played at weddings. She wore white for the occasion rather than her trademark blue. A video played highlighting Truss’ greatest political hits and supporters brought lettuces in reference to her famously short tenure.

So far the Popcons have over 30 Conservative MPs signed up, suggesting a reasonably strong start in forcing the party’s internal debate rightwards. However, the faction does not currently aim to directly challenge Sunak’s leadership.

Mixed Response Reflects Truss’ Enduring Unpopularity

The Popcon launch drew a mixed reaction, with some concerned it could further factionalize the divided Conservatives. A YouGov snap poll found 61% of Britons have an unfavorable opinion of Truss, while just 16% view her positively. This indicates her personal brand remains severely damaged after her botched economic policies panicked markets last fall.

Critics argued Truss is not the best figure to lead a movement called “Popular Conservatism” given her unpopularity with voters. They compared the provocative name to Truss infamously declaring last year “I am a fighter, not a quitter.” She resigned just a day later.

However, Truss still retains a loyal following among the Tory grassroots and right-wing media. Supporters hope she can help articulate a “true blue” Conservative vision as Sunak tries shifting towards the center ahead of 2024 elections.

What’s Next: More Splits or Potential Reconciliation?

It remains unclear if the Popular Conservatives will ultimately strengthen or weaken the Tories’ electoral chances going forward. Having prominent figures like Farage inside the tent could help retain more right-leaning voters. But it may also spur further bitter divisions if debates turn acrimonious.

Some analysts think there is still room for reconciliation, with Sunak potentially co-opting elements of the Popcon platform. This could allow him to unite the two wings of the party.

However, the early signs point to growing splits between “Sunakites” and “Trussites.” Sunak supporters have rebutted calls for major tax cuts or immigration restrictions. Truss meanwhile shows no signs of softening her ideological stances. She told the BBC she has no regrets over her time as PM and would do it all again.

The Popular Conservatives demonstrate significant energy on the Tories’ right flank as the country gears up for the next election, currently scheduled for January 2025. Their pressure will pose an ongoing dilemma for Sunak in balancing the demands of his party’s conflicting factions against those of the broader electorate.

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By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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