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She isn’t f*****ing about

My Grandmother used to have a word. It began with “F” but it’s not that “F” word or even the slightly less bad Irish “F” word as popularised by Father Ted. It’s another “F” word but you will search your dictionary in vain to find it. It’s not in mine. In fact, I am far from sure it has ever been written down. If it were written down it would be something like “footer” with the “foo” pronounced like the “Foo” in Foo Fighters not the “foo” in foot. Well, I say that but that’s only about as close as an Englishmen can get. Monaghan pronunciation is not something that I would advise the typical Englishmen, Scotsman or, indeed, Irishman to attempt. Worse still for any cultural appropriators out there, “footer” almost never came without being preceded with another word. The word means “old” but it is pronounced like “aisle” but we can’t use “aisle” because people in Monaghan take their religion seriously. “Isle” also looks silly so I am going to go for “ail”. Anyway, it turned out that a lot of acquaintances of my grandmother turned out to be “ail footers”. In fact, at times it seemed – if my grandmother was anything to go by – that 90% of the population of Monaghan could be so categorized.

However, it turns out that “footer” is not just a noun but a verb. I say that but I’ve only heard that from the lips of one person – not my grandmother – a resident of Armagh who couldn’t pronounce the word but did at least understand it. So, it’s not in common use. But I can’t think of a better word in light of the mini-Budget announced on Friday. Whatever Liz Truss may be or may do she is not a “footer” and she is not “footering about”.

For Liz Truss to not be a “footer” is an achievement in itself. The last 12 years of Conservative or mainly Conservative rule has been government of Footers, by Footers, for Footers. Liz Truss herself has spent the last ten years as a Cabinet minister. That means 10 years defending policy most of which she must have thought was nonsense. How do you do that without the steady erosion of your sense of right and wrong? How do you do that without losing all sense of urgency? Anyway, she has and the speed at which non-footerish announcements on taxes, regulations, energy and Ukraine are coming out of government is astonishing. I have been burnt so many times by politicians that I have become reluctant to give them my whole-hearted support. I am not yet ready to do that in the case of Liz Truss but this is an extremely promising start.

There is little about Liz Truss’s appearance or demeanour to suggest (to me at least) a Thatcher-like determination. From Heaver News.

26 comments to She isn’t f*****ing about

  • Paul Marks

    Patrick, we differ on military history – but we tend to agree on economic history, and this is an important historical event.

    For the first time since the American Civil War period, taxes in the United Kingdom, both for companies and individual businessmen, will be lower (or rather – less absurdly high) than in New York and many other American States (remember readers – add State taxes to Federal taxes). Not just New York – but many American States now have higher taxes than Britain on business and businessmen (if one adds Federal and State taxes together).

    For the first time in 150 years!

    However, there is a problem – GOVERNNMENT SPENDING has not been addressed.

    It is GOVERNMENT SPENDING that is the real problem.

    Still – the tax cuts are good, at least we are not in a madhouse, like Ireland it the late 1840s – with the insanely high Poor Law Tax and other taxes, where cripplingly high taxes are described as “the free market” or even “laissez faire”.

    If an historian describes a high tax society (such as Ireland in the late 1840s – where taxes were vastly higher than they had been as recently as the 1820s, when there was no Poor Law Tax and no system of Government Schools either) as “laissez faire” – then one is dealing with an idiot (or a liar).

  • Paul Marks

    The reaction of the “international community” including Big Business (the banks and “the markets” – which are utterly rigged, for example the gold traded on the “gold market” often does-not-exist) has been interesting.

    They have not said “the tax cuts are good – but you much cut government spending as well, cutting government spending is vital” – what have said (de facto) is “the tax cuts are bad”.

    It appears that London is not-allowed (not-allowed) to have taxes on business and businessmen that are lower than say New York City, Chicago Illinois and Los Angeles California – that the tax cartel supported by the World Economic Forum and the United Nations (and so on) is already a-thing.

    I did not think that Big Business (the “Woke” Corporations) could go any lower – but they have.

    These “businessmen” do not even want lower taxes – they want their precious international tax and regulation cartel, their wonderful “world governance”.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    I only learned what all those weird letters in dictionaries were about in the last few years, but I think the way of writing down the pronunciation of your grandmother’s phrase in the International Phonetic Alphabet might be something like /aɪl fuːt.ər/.

    Regarding your post, yes. Yesterday’s Times had an article by Robert Colville called “The cabinet is adopting the Millwall strategy: no one likes us — we don’t care”

    Kwasi Kwarteng has form for shocking the nation. In 1995 he became so flustered about forgetting an answer on University Challenge that he twice used the f-word. But on Friday it was other people doing the swearing. Lots of it. Not since Nigel Lawson’s 1988 budget speech was halted by protests has a fiscal statement provoked such a reaction — in parliament, in newsrooms and on trading floors. (That one, too, involved a cut to the top rate of income tax.)

    Last week I quoted a government insider who said the plan was “shock and awe”. Mostly the reaction was just shock. The Labour Party howled. The pink pages of the Financial Times turned red with rage. A gaggle of economists (and indeed The Economist) denounced a dangerous and reckless gamble.

    This “mini-budget” (although if that was mini, Lord knows what a full version looks like) was not designed to please the commentators. Nor primarily to please the voters — at least in the short term. This month the think tank I run published research showing that the Tories are most vulnerable among working-class voters bearing the brunt of the cost of living crisis. They, and others, were increasingly worried that the Conservatives cared only about the rich and big business. Friday didn’t exactly counter that impression. It was particularly strange to see the shadow chancellor castigate the government for going light on the energy firms. In fact Kwarteng is keeping Rishi Sunak’s (very popular) windfall tax, which will raise just as much as Labour’s plan. But to avoid denting his growth-friendly bona fides, he didn’t even mention it.

    So what are Truss and Kwarteng thinking? Have they decided to turn the Tories into the Millwall of politics — “no one likes us, we don’t care”?

  • Paul Marks

    Natalie – Chancellor Kwarteng and First Lord of the Treasury Truss can swear all they want to; I do not like it – but I am not going to get obsessed by it.

    But they must, must, reduce-government-spending.

    It is not “cutting taxes” that is the problem – the problem is that government spending is vastly too high.

  • Paul Marks

    As for the Economist magazine – the last time I looked at them, they were denying that the NHS has too many managers (I know that Corporate medicine in the United States has even more managers – but two wrongs do not make a right), and even saying that Inheritance Tax should be higher – higher.

    It seems that the Economist magazine has a deep-dark-fear of the idea of any farm or business enterprise being privately (family) owned and passed down the generations – to the Economist magazine everything must be “owned” by the Woke international corporations, with everyone being a serf of said Woke international corporations working hand-in-hand with international governance (the tax and regulation cartel, and all dependent on endless Credit Money given to the politically connected, to crush competition).

    Anyone who thinks that this would be a “free market” or would tolerate any personal liberty at all – is mistaken.

    “You will own nothing – and you will be happy” seems to be their motto – with the “you will be happy” having an unspoken “or we will kick your head in” with it.

  • Alex

    My working class girlfriend was pleased by the cut to income tax. She is getting a bit fed up of working all hours and seeing all the monies disappear in the “Deductions” part of the payslip (she’s on basic rate, which will go down to 19%). The NI changes will be even more effective at keeping working class people’s money in their pocket, but as it’s such a disparate set of changes I fear they won’t necessarily notice it directly (a lot of people I know don’t even check their payslips, which is horrifying to me).

    The kind of voter who is gasping in horror at tax cuts for the rich wasn’t going to vote Tory at the next election anyway (or probably any election). To the rest, it’s business as usual but instead of their tax rate going up it’s going down – a few, maybe quite a lot, might quietly notice this with interest. Kwarteng may have saved the Conservative’s bacon in one stroke.

    Edit to add: I hadn’t noticed it was actually Sunak who initially cut the basic rate tax rate to 19%, I only read about it when I was reading about Kwarteng’s budget. I actually generally keep up with these things, must have missed it in the spring budget. I wonder if other people will have also missed it in Sunak’s boring budget but heard about it in Kwarteng’s controversial one?

  • Steven R

    Don’t forget to add county and/or municipal taxes to the Federal and State ones.

    MY economics professor shocked the class when he brought out some graphs showing Americans were paying far more in taxes when we consider all the various taxes (federal, state, local, county, property, etc.) on a per capita basis to our various levels of government and getting less in return for it than our European counterparts.

    And Americans can’t even become tax exiles by going overseas.

    Even renouncing one’s American citizenship means still owing the IRS for the next decade’s worth of income.

  • Patrick Crozier

    “…of /fuːt.ər/s, by /fuːt.ər/s, for /fuːt.ər/s.” It hasn’t a definite ring to it.

  • lucklucky

    Seems a lots of Capitalists are afraid they will net enough capital from Socialist Government if taxes go down…and it ceases to be a Socialist Government.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    It does sound like a good start- but where should she cut spending? Isn’t that the reason that the pound fell?

  • Michael Taylor

    Why doesn’t she immediately announce the cancellation of obviously disastrous and disastrously expensive white-elephants such as HS2 and Hinckley?

    I fear the answer is already embedded in the question. How is it possible for HS2 now to be estimated to cost £106bn? I mean, seriously, how is this even possible? This is after all, merely buying an already-mature technology. How it is possible?

    How is it possible to be going on with Hinckley Point, with a technology which so far has always been impossible to deploy, and which the EDF finance director warned British govt to avoid, and then resigned to make his point?

    It isn’t a question of whether these were bad decisions. They were obviously that. But much worse, they were obviously bad, mad, wildly expensive decisions. How were these decisions ever even possible?

    And, of course, if you’ve a little knowledge of the world, you’ll know the answer. How to put it politely? There must have been some sort of extra-commercial interest involved.

    This is why they cannot be cancelled. If this is a sewer, no-one wants to dig it up. If there are whole battalions of bodies which someone, somewhere can threaten to dig up if the contracts are cancelled, they’ll never be cancelled. Once you go down that road, the government, or party, or civil service which benefited are hostages.

    So these monstrous financial obscenities won’t get cancelled. In the meantime, Britain would do well to establish a Hong Kong-style Independent Commission Against Corruption. All involved, right from the start, should be surrendering all their financial records since these projects first got mooted. No exceptions, no excuses, lock-up if you don’t or can’t comply.

  • Roué le Jour

    Nicholas Gray,

    Re: the falling Pound,
    I’ve always cynically assumed that at least a part of the reason why Conservative governments don’t implement conservative policies is because they know that if they did the rest of the commie west would try to put Britain out of business.

  • Alex

    Independent Commission Against Corruption

    Sounds good, but who will run it? Who is stainless in modern Britain, that is yet well enough known to engender trust and confidence in the outcomes?

  • Michael Taylor

    Who could head up a British ICAC? Really good question. I’ve got to say that it couldn’t be anyone active after the 1997 Blair election, and no-one with connections to the political/financial/media establishment, all of whom I think are legitimately no longer trusted. And obviously it can’t be anyone from the military or police. So how about. . . .
    Michael Palin (ranks as high as any in Rome);
    Roger Federer (Doesn’t need the money, terrifying killer instinct);
    Nicola Sturgeon (because, let’s face it, she knows lots about corruption, and has loads of motive);

    or even . . .
    Gordon Brown (head for financial complexity, hates Blair and his ways anyway, self-righteous/vengeful enough to do the job);
    Eddie George (for fun)

    Yes of course these are joke candidates, but your question raises a really horrible problem. Any other answers out there?

  • Michael Taylor

    OK, I’ve identified the head of Britain’s ICAC.

    It is Julie Burchill.

    Threaten her with a Damehood if she doesn’t take it.

  • Paul Marks

    Quite correct Steven R.

    For example, some American cities even have a local income tax and American local Property Taxes can be crushing (how does anyone survive in New Jersey – look at the Property Tax levels).

    At this point trying to run a manufacturing business in the United States makes no sense – especially with the absurdly overvalued Dollar sucking in imports and crucifying exporters.

    “The balance of payments does not matter Paul – Adam Smith proved it does not matter” – Adam Smith was not dealing with a system where the government and the pet banks could create endless “money” from nothing.

    As for banking and financial services – why should any business operate in horrible unsafe cities such as New York or Chicago?

    By the way – the debt (per person) in Chicago is even higher than New York City, what they do in Chicago is hide the debt (“it is not city debt, it is school board debt” and all the other dodges) – see the recent Truth in Accounting investigation.

    I am a local politician in Britain – if I operated the way that the politicians in many American cities do, I would be in prison.

    The Federal Reserve subsidies to the “pet” Corporations (the banks and the other entities – such as BlackRock, State Street and Vanguard) cannot last for ever.

    As in so many countries – the Cantillon Effect (named after Richard Cantillon of some three centuries ago) is out of control in the United States – a small group is being enriched at the expense of everyone else, but in the United States conditions are much more violent, indeed order has broken down in some cities.

  • Michael Taylor

    You are quite correct. But I’m afraid this is where you need to recognize that you can no longer be a free-market libertarian. It’s hard to give up all your favourite economic beliefs, but eventually the corruption that has grown up around them demands recognition. It seems you’ve made that first painful step. Now I invite you to consider the virtues of the UK’s Social Democrat. Yes, heresy, I know. But in current circumstances, I’m sure even Hayek would approve.


  • Steven R

    The free-market Laissez-faire system with little to no governmental interference never existed in the US. Between tariffs and taxes, government picking winners and losers while constructing the infrastructure like the Erie Canal and seizing property to give to the railroads and eliminating open range grazing in favor of large livestock producers, right from the beginning government has had its thumb on the scale in favor of someone. Rules, regulations, and laws are drafted so that someone is the winner. Sometimes they are necessary (food safety, paying workers in cash instead of script, the aforementioned railroads), sometimes they are just written to help an industry because lobbyists wrote the bill (Obamacare).

    The free-market system is a fine ideal, but it has never really existed. It is a fine ideal to want to work towards, but while it works great on paper there are flaws. But the point is there has always been some corrupting influences in DC and the state legislatures and governors. It is just more deliberate and overt now is all.

    Like the wise man said, we don’t invent the world, we merely inherit it and try the best we can to make it work for us.

  • bobby b

    Steven R
    September 26, 2022 at 8:28 pm

    “The free-market Laissez-faire system with little to no governmental interference never existed in the US.”

    Everything is on a continuum, not just on polar points. No one here is completely “libertarian” – they fall along that continuum further towards libertarian than do most others, but vary in position even among themselves.

    Just so the labeling of “free market.” We are further along that continuum than most others. I’d say that, just as we are “libertarian-ish” here on this site, the US is (or maybe just used to be) “free-market-ish.”

    And, really, that’s nothing to sneer at. Not perfect, but leaning strongly the right way.

  • Lee Moore

    Talking about unf*****ish ladies, I know we’re not supposed to approve of the new Italian gal, but rhetorically this is absolutely lit :


    I understand that she speaks in an Itaian “cockney” accent. It sounds pretty decisve to me.

    And pulling Chesterton out of the bag at the end is not at all what you expect from a blackshirt.

  • bobby b

    Can we bring her over here, and can she learn English? She can advise, at least . . . Wow. Sort of the Trump we wished for.

  • William H. Stoddard

    Lee: Thanks for the link. A striking speech. And I find myself reminded of Auden’s poem about “The Unknown Citizen,” with its ironic ending:

    Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd;
    Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard.

  • Sam Duncan

    Footer? Good Scotch word, as my dad used to say. Didn’t know they had it in Ireland too. Broadly analogous to “fidget” (indeed, it converts unaltered to a noun in exactly the same way: one who footers is a footer), but with overtones of “monkeying with”. “Stop footering wi’ that! You’ll break it!” was heard often in my childhood (and might well be said to many a government). Also, as you note, often used in the negative, with approval. Truss certainly does not seem to be footering about.

    (The Samizdata RSS feed is still coming through here in fits and starts, a couple of times a week, so I don’t always see posts immediately. Has someone been footering with it?)

  • Sam Duncan

    Lee Moore: Good stuff (although I can’t say the bits about ”financial speculators” don’t make me slightly uneasy; I think I know what she means, but that kind of talk isn’t exactly denying her detractors ammunition). The Chesterton quote at the end is from Heretics:

    The great march of mental destruction will go on. Everything will be denied. Everything will become a creed. It is a reasonable position to deny the stones in the street; it will be a religious dogma to assert them. It is a rational thesis that we are all in a dream; it will be a mystical sanity to say that we are all awake. Fires will be kindled to testify that two and two make four. Swords will be drawn to prove that leaves are green in summer. … We shall fight for visible prodigies as if they were invisible. We shall look on the impossible grass and the skies with a strange courage. We shall be those who have seen and yet have believed.

    He saw this coming a mile off.

    bobby b: Apparently her English is pretty good. I don’t have a link, but I think she spoke at CPAC.

  • Sam Duncan

    A bit late, but here’s a link, from CPAC 2022 (including the same Chesterton quote, interestingly; it must be a favourite of hers): https://www.conservative.org/video/giorgia-meloni-cpac-2022/

  • bobby b

    She could be a real hit here, especially among non-urban conservatives.