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Truss’s delusional memoir fails to ‘relaunch’ her career

There’s no wonder only Lord Ashcroft’s Biteback publishing outfit was prepared to pick up the rights to Ten Years to Save the West

Liz Truss speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

The circa £1m book deal from Rupert Murdoch is now regarded as part of the payoff for obedient prime ministers – as David Cameron and Boris Johnson can attest – but the nonagenarian billionaire balked at putting so much as a penny the way of Liz Truss after she notched up just 44 days in No 10.

Only Lord Ashcroft’s Biteback publishing outfit was prepared to pick up the rights to Truss’s Ten Years to Save the West – coming in at 892nd place in the Amazon charts – and now it’s becoming clear how parsimonious the former deputy chair of the Tory Party was with her.

For all the savings Ashcroft may have made out of his non-dom tax status, he coughed up just £1,800 for the party – marginally more than her original advance for the book, which was just over £1,500. Obviously embarrassed for her friend, Lady Patricia Moynihan, wife of Jon Moynihan who was ennobled in Truss’s resignation honours, decided to chip in a further £2,781 for the “provision of staffing, equipment hire, events set-up, cleaning, linen and additional refreshments” for the party.

Books are normally the launch pads for lucrative speaking tours, but Truss bagged a modest £5,054 for one two-hour post-publication talk, plus £19,321 for another, loose change compared with what Johnson and Theresa May have been picking up, and shows the law of diminishing returns. Truss made £80,000 on her first speaking engagement in Taiwan just after leaving office.

Truss has yet to receive any royalty payments for Ten Years to Save the West, but they are unlikely to keep her in good-quality lettuces going forward. She has just declared a pitiful £201.55 royalty payment for another book she published in 2012.

As rumours of a summer election continue to swirl, Rishi Sunak’s lacklustre appearance on Loose Women – on which the prime minister responded to a question on child poverty by talking about the media regulator Ofcom – has caused jitters at Conservative campaign headquarters.

It was Isaac Levido, Sunak’s campaign director and widely regarded as a genius among the Kool-Aid drinkers at CCHQ, who pushed for him to appear on the ITV show – a supposed coup that misfired when Sunak struggled under questioning from Judi Love and Janet Street-Porter.

Mandrake disclosed how Levido had first come up with his “soft sofa strategy” for Sunak in September 2023, but his boss’s awkwardness, inability to connect with audiences and tendency to smile at the wrong time has meant there have been fewer soft sofas than originally envisaged.

One demoralised campaign toiler tells me: “The idea was for Rishi to duck the serious political questions on the serious political shows and communicate his personality on more popular and fun shows like Loose Women, but the problem, as even Isaac now recognises, is he doesn’t really have a personality.”

Another Sunak TV appearance, on a GB News “People’s Forum” that allowed him to spout nonsense largely unchallenged, has also gone wrong for Levido. It seems to have finally woken the slumbering broadcasting watchdog Ofcom, which is beginning the process of considering a statutory sanction against a broadcaster that is happy to amplify Tory views and hire Tory MPs as presenters. 

GB News presenter Darren Grimes is madder than a hornet. “We have had to fight to secure our vote for Brexit, and we now have to fight to watch a news channel because they can’t stand that we plebs now have a non-MSM choice,” he spluttered. 

Wildly extravagant with public money, Boris Johnson has always been exceedingly careful with his own. The Land Registry has finally updated its files on Brightwell Manor, the Grade II listed Oxfordshire mansion that Johnson bought in 2023, and they show the disgraced former prime minister managed to knock £250,000 off the £4m asking price. 

Although Johnson once professed to be so broke he had to pass the begging bowl around for him to do up his Downing Street flat, the documents confirm he required no mortgage for the property.  He has since been able to add an outdoor swimming pool.

Mandrake trusts Johnson and his wife, Carrie, are blissfully happy there, but Theresa May’s jibe last week that his forthcoming memoirs should be sold in bookshops in the “current affairs” section – she emphasised the word “affairs” – proved an unhappy reminder of his past infidelities.

The allegations made against the Aspinall Foundation, the charity founded by casino heir and conservationist Damian Aspinall, were not unduly complicated. They focused on significant payments to his former wife, Victoria, and the suggestion he was allowed to live in a sprawling mansion at below-market rates. But, almost four years on since the Charity Commission began its investigation, it remains in progress.

“This is an inordinate amount of time for what ought to be a relatively straightforward analysis of figures and explanations,” one interested party informs me. “A number of concerned  individuals have been pressing the commission for their findings, but all we are being told is that we will have to wait.”

He adds that it’s legitimate to ask questions given the sums of money involved and the high profiles of the individuals involved. Aspinall is a Tory donor and close friend of Boris Johnson, and employs his wife, Carrie, as head of communications. 

Meanwhile, Charity Commission chair Orlando Fraser once stood as a Tory Party candidate and is a founding fellow of the right wing Centre for Social Justice think tank. 

A spokesperson for the Charity Commission declined to say if the investigation was taking longer than normal, saying: “Our inquiry into the Aspinall Foundation is ongoing. It is our policy to publish a report detailing our findings and any action taken once an inquiry has concluded. It is difficult to determine timelines for the duration of an individual inquiry as these vary considerably.”

As Labour gets down to the business of choosing its candidate in Islington North constituency, its sitting member Jeremy Corbyn, now an independent MP, has his mind on loftier matters.

On June 5, the former Labour leader will host an evening of poetry at Elizabeth House, a community centre in the constituency. Last autumn, with his pal the former trade union leader Len McCluskey, Corbyn brought out a poetry anthology.

Corbyn is still undecided on standing in the constituency he has held since 1983. If he doesn’t, or, if he does and is defeated, a late career as a poet may beckon. After all, his anthology, Poetry For The Many, did contain one of his own – Calais In Winter, composed on the train back from visiting refugee camps in northern France.

TNE columnist Paul Mason and transport writer Christian Wolmar have already put themselves forward to be selected by Labour for Islington North. 

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