Liz Truss – Anatomy of UK’s Shortest Tenure

  • Author

    Martina Pranjić

  • Published

    Oct, 25, 2022

  • Reading time

    5 min

Liz Truss, UK’s soon-to-be ex-prime minister and Conservative Party leader, resigned on 20th October after only 44 days of reign, becoming the UK’s shortest serving prime minister of all time.

After all the events leading to this day – very much. 

In addition to a range of highly questionable decisions made by her closest personnel, what added fuel to the fire burning since day one was her Party’s deep division to MPs trying to back and justify everything taking place and to members of the party expressing their opposition openly and trying to plot behind her back. Not to mention the fact that the media weren’t easy on her, leading to one newspaper comparing her reign to the shelf life of an iceberg salad and another tabloid streaming a live competition of Liz Truss and a salad, with a gloomy sentence Will Liz Truss outlast this lettuce?

But what about the rest of the web?

Let’s take a look at how the internet reacted to all 44 days of Liz Truss with the help of Determ, media monitoring tool. Which provoked more media attention – her coming or leaving? How did the sentiment towards Liz Truss change (or was it all negative from the start)?

Read on!

Media Coverage – PM Career Characterized by Spikes

Here are all mentions containing Liz Truss since the start of September:

liz truss mentions in mediatoolkit
Mentions of Liz Truss online over time; source: Determ

Spikes in mentions usually happen when the keyword you’re tracking has more mentions than usual (typically when there is significant news, a very positive or negative event, or something that is out of the framework of usual business). And there were many in Liz Truss’ 44 days in service.

Read Four Crisis Management Steps to Take to Stop a Disaster

mentions of liz truss by source in mediatoolkit
Mentions of Liz Truss by source – the highest number of mentions present on websites; source: Determ

As displayed on the graph, the biggest spikes in the number of mentions happened when she took office on September 6th and when she left on October 20th. But this is just the tip of the spikey iceberg.

Liz Truss was appointed after winning against Rishi Sunak, with a comfortable advantage of almost 20,000 votes. After a rather quiet start, marked by the mourning period because of the Queen’s death just 2 days after Truss got appointed, the mid of September got the ball of negativity rolling.

Read Everything you Need to Know About Political PR

What do these spikes mean? (timeline of a political disaster)

September 23rd

Truss’ chancellor, Finance minister Kwasi Kwarteng announces his big growth plan, the so-called mini-budget. This plan was supposed to cut taxes immensely with the initiative to fund all measures through borrowing. This provoked a massive reaction in the markets, pushing the pound to a historic low compared to the US dollar.

From September 26th

The pound keeps plunging, the markets are still in turmoil, and the Bank of England is forced to intervene in order to keep the UK financial stability on 28th September.

October 2nd

Liz Truss admits in an interview for BBC that they’ve made mistakes, further deepening the gap between her and the opposition within the Conservative Party. Mr. Kwarteng announced a U-turn in his proposed strategy the day after, with a statement, “We get it, we have listened.”, scrapping the tax cuts. 

Read The Importance of Political Social Media Strategy

kwasi kwarten's tweet
Kwasi Kwarteng’s tweet

October 14th

Only 10 days after the U-turn, chancellor Kwarteng was laid off and replaced by Jeremy Hunt. A couple of days in, he announced reversing almost all of the tax cuts announced in the “mini-budget”. 

October 18th/19th

Final nails in the coffin – Home Secretary Suella Braverman quits, and the vote on the future of fracking shows the complete dysfunction of the party, with many ministers reporting bullying. 

October 20th

Liz Truss resigns. 

PR in Politics ebook

In Liz They Truss*ed 

Let’s take a look at the sentiment graph. 

Sentiment analysis of all mentions containing Liz Truss
Sentiment analysis of all mentions containing Liz Truss during the days of her reign; source: Determ

Positive sentiment towards Liz Truss prevailed only at the beginning of her career as a prime minister. She signified a breath of fresh air after a range of controversies following her predecessor, Boris Johnson. With her positive take on cryptocurrencies and an idea to tackle energy bills, she was the voice of hope for a better future.

Read How to Determine the Sentiment of Your Mentions

positive mentions of liz truss
Positive mentions of Liz Truss at the beginning of September; source: Determ

But with the announcement of the mini-budget and the following run on pound, the positivity faded out and turned into predominantly negative sentiment. A week in, the negative sentiment started slowly increasing with the announcement of new energy and economic plans within a rather fragile UK economy. This was already a sign of a crisis looming that exploded with further political moves and the media’s figurative and literal countdown till her resignation. 

The peak of the negative sentiment can be seen, as expected, on the day that she resigned, the 20th of October. 

negative mentions of liz truss
Negative mentions of Liz Truss; source: Determ

Political turmoil around the world

This political drama was primarily followed in the UK and the USA.

Top locations where Liz Truss was mentioned the most; source: Determ

But as far as the British media outlets are concerned, Liz Truss was mentioned the most by Daily Mail and the Independent.

top influencers and media outlets mentioning liz truss
Top influencers and media outlets mentioning LIz Truss; source: Determ

If we take a look at the words most frequently used next to Liz Truss, we can see a visual presentation of her reign:

word cloud
Word cloud in Determ

A reign marked with breaking news, crisis, economy and energy plans, the cost of living and huge expectations set to the new prime minister.

Only 44 days have passed since Truss promised to get Britain through the storm. And a range of poorly made decisions has brought an even bigger storm. A storm that will be the first big challenge for the new PM in office.

What’s Next?

Could she have done things differently? Probably. 

Maybe a different, strategic tax plan would work better. Or a more informative take on the energy crisis. But at this point, it isn’t even important. Liz Truss’ tenure will be remembered as the shortest but also as one of the most turbulent ones, for sure.

The UK is getting ready for another new prime minister and leader of the Conservative party. In a battle between Penny Mordaunt and Rishi Sunak, Sunak gets the upper hand and is elected as Truss’ successor.

competitive analysis
Penny Mordaunt and Rishi Sunak; competitive analysis; source: Determ

Rishi Sunak will be the UK’s first prime minister of color, and he is the youngest person to have taken office in more than 200 years. The stakes are high, the expectations even higher, and the decision to choose him a good one, at least judging by the sentiment towards him at this point. Will he be the one who will clear out the mess? The time will tell.

Penny Mordaunt and Rishi Sunak; competitive analysis - difference in sentiment
Penny Mordaunt and Rishi Sunak; competitive analysis – difference in sentiment; source: Determ