Liz Truss: ‘Shirkers and Strivers’ part 2: Cabinet 2022

The UK “rewards laziness”, does not encourage risk-taking and must strive to emulate the work ethic and low-tax culture in parts of Asia, the five MPs argue in a book due out next month.

The authors include Elizabeth Truss and Dominic Raab, both tipped to be promoted in a future reshuffle.

“Too many people in Britain prefer a lie-in to hard work,” they argue.1

George Osborne sub-divided British workers into ‘Shirkers and Strivers’2 and I wondered how many of his cabinet colleagues were ‘Shirkers’. The test was what they did at university. University tests will-power and intellectual capacity3

Liz Truss didn’t declare her degree grade and I thought she was a ‘Quietly Desperate Shirker’. This view is enhanced at her trashing her school and re-writing her privileged upbringing, which isn’t exactly Ragged Trousered Philanthropist. Her cabinet have embraced their university failures. 14 out of 26 provide no data on their grades. So where does this leave the analysis?

 Super Strivers

Theresa Coffey (deputy PM)                     Oxford Ph.D (Chemistry)

Kwasi Kwarteng (Chancellor)                    Cambridge Ph.D (History)

Suella Braverman (Home Secretary)         Cambridge Masters (European Law)

Brandon Lewis (Justice)                             London Masters (Economics)

Kemi Badenoch (International trade)        Sussex Masters (Engineering)

Wendy Morton (Chief Whip)                     Open (Britain’s only remote learning   university) MBA (Business)


None (There are no members of the Truss cabinet who’ve declared a First from any university.)

This compares to FOUR in Cameron’s cabinet including himself.


It’s cruel but a shirker, in this context, is someone who got a 2nd class degree, or lower, which is the default degree for turning up.

Jacob Rees-Mogg (Business and Energy) Oxford (History)

Penny Mordaunt (Leader of the House) Reading (Philosophy)

Michael Ellis (Attorney General) Buckingham (Britain’s only private university) (Law)


Politicians generically brag about their achievements and embellish CVs sometimes to the point of actual falsehood. (Think about Ian Duncan Smith and his university ‘career’.4) As a group they aren’t modest, shy and retiring and especially not at cabinet level. It isn’t a leap in the dark to believe that those who conceal their degree grade in Wikipedia entries probably didn’t have stellar university careers. So what? Intellectually challenged people are prone to GroupThink.5  

 GroupThink is the last thing the country needs. Liz Truss became ideologically right-wing – as a career move. Her cabinet reflects her thinking. She doesn’t want trivialities like evidence, or contrary points-of-view, intruding on her cosy certainties.

 Liz Truss, Oxford (PM)6, Nadhim Zahawi UCL (no portfolio); Simon Clarke Oxford, (Housing); Chloe Smith, York, (Work and Pensions); Kit Malthouse, Newcastle, (Education); Ranil Jayawardena, LSE, (Environment); Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Oxford Poly (Transport); Michelle Donelan, York, ((Digital); Chris Heaton-Harris, Wolverhampton, (Northern Ireland); Robert Buckland, Durham, (Wales); Alister Jack*, Heriot-Watt, (Scotland); Alok Sharma, Salford, (Cop26); Lord True, Cambridge, (Leader Lords); Jake Berry, Sheffield, (Cons Party Chair); and Chris Philp, Oxford, (Chief Sec Treasury)

* Alister Jack. He has a DL degree but this appears to be a subset of a degree. I’m not sure and so include him here.

And finally

Ben Wallace Army – no degree (Defence)

Wallace is the ultimate nodding spineless donkey. He didn’t resign following the rout in Kabul, 2021.7 He didn’t resign when Johnson’s wife ordered the evacuation of animals as a priority over human beings. And he didn’t resign when Britain’s state-of-the-art aircraft carrier broke down 5 miles into a journey to the USA.8 Worse, he believes Britain is a Global military power. Truss has economic fantasies and he has Victorian ‘policeman of the world’ fantasies. They’ll get on famously.


1 British workers ‘among worst idlers’, suggest Tory MPs – BBC News

2 David Cameron’s Cabinet May 2015: Shirkers and Strivers | Odeboyz’s Blog (

3 It’s widely believed that Johnson didn’t get a First because he was bone idle. If so, then it’s a pretty good rule-of-thumb.

4 Iain Duncan Smith – Wikipedia His university career was a year in Italy- no degree.

5 Groupthink – Wikipedia

6 In bold if they aren’t merely Liz’s nodding donkey’s although, in the end, they all are.

7 Retreat from Kabul | The Monthly

8 Flagship UK aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales replaced for US visit after breakdown (


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