Liz Truss lurches again – what does it mean for comms?

It is an astonishing development. Kwasi Kwarteng and Lis Truss are (or at least were) close political allies and ideological bedfellows. The mini-budget expressed beliefs they both embraced.

In office for just 38 days, her political agenda now looks increasingly shaky. Sacking her Chancellor may not be enough to save her skin.

Previous governments, whether Labour, coalition or Conservative, have worn their ideology lightly, been pragmatic, and followed the same prevailing political consensus.

In contrast, many have expected Liz Truss to be one of the most ideologically driven and radical prime ministers for 40 years. She’s spoken about her desire to upend the political consensus to achieve growth.

Today, even while she U-turned on her pledge to scrap the increase in corporation tax, she announced her determination to see through what she has promised.

Against this context, there are four things for public affairs professionals to consider.

First, despite the uncertainty, now is the time to increase engagement. With just two years to
deliver, the government will seek ideas to address the UK’s myriad urgent challenges. There has never been a better time to impact policy.

If organisations have a policy idea that will boost growth, is low-cost, can be delivered quickly and is politically palatable, now is the time to get it in front of the relevant minister.

Second, those looking to influence the government should continue to frame policies through the lenses of quick delivery and growth, recommends Sam Collins, a senior policy advisor at the IEA. Max Sugarman, chair of the CIPR’s Public Affairs Group, suggests couching arguments in pro-growth language.

Next, and as we have seen today, Truss will have to become more pragmatic to keep her backbenchers – and the voters and markets – on board.

Businesses and organisations can help provide insight into what is and is not achievable to help ensure the government gets the balance right. Ensuring the government has clear evidence to support a policy intervention is essential in getting things right.

Finally, influence is a marathon, not a sprint. Truss has formed her beliefs over many years.

So those trying to influence how she sees the world are already late to the party. We can see this in her continued commitment to her vision in her speech today. She believes her policies are correct.

But she and her former Chancellor went too far and too fast. So, rather than try to reshape an entrenched narrative, Tom Hashemi, managing partner of comms agency Cast From Clay, suggests it is better to engage with those who may shape future policies. Given the polls, for many, this now means greater focus and engagement with those influencing the Labour Party’s thinking and policies.