Skip to content
Martin Ivens

Truss's Libertarianism Was Never Going to Win Over the UK

Political parties need an ideological compass of sorts, but they must show flexibility in the face of the facts.

What’s the plan now?

What’s the plan now?

Photographer: WPA Pool/Getty Images Europe

The French admire intellectuals for their ideological principles, but the British don’t share their enthusiasm. As the poet W.H. Auden wrote: “To the man-in-the-street who, I’m sorry to say, /Is a keen observer of life/ The word intellectual suggests right away/A man who’s untrue to his wife.”

This mindset dates back to the French Revolution. Across the Channel, the British shuddered in horror when Parisian fanatics guillotined their political opponents by the thousands in the name of abstract ideas. Memories of the Puritan zealots who abolished Christmas and closed the theaters during the English civil war never faded either.