Liz Truss breaks out of her robotic shell - but it won’t be enough to repair the damage

 - Aaron Chown/PA
- Aaron Chown/PA

After a disastrous three days, Liz Truss did at least ensure that the Conservative Party conference ended on a high.

By unleashing her anger at what she called the “anti-growth coalition”, she fired up her audience with the sort of deep-rooted passion that has been lacking in her public appearances so far.

We heard about the sexist snub that lit a fire inside her as a child, when she was given a junior air hostess badge on an aeroplane while her brothers were given junior pilot badges.

We saw her calmly deal with a Greenpeace protest designed to wreck her speech, which geed up the conference hall with cheers and shouts of: “Go on Liz!”

Most of all, we saw a leader who showed she has plenty of fire in her belly, and who was not afraid to call out the sneering commentariat who “taxi from north London townhouses to the BBC studio to dismiss anyone challenging the status quo”.

Until that point, much of the speech could have been cut and pasted from just about any Tory leader’s address of recent decades, with talk of economic growth, infrastructure investment and safer streets.

But the Tory membership that had chosen her over Rishi Sunak roared their approval as she told them the “real heroes” are not protesters who stick themselves to buses and trains, as those on the Left would have us believe, but the people who “go to work, take responsibility and aspire to a better life”.

She rammed home her point by asking: “Does this anti-growth coalition have any idea who pays their wages?”

The more her anger showed, the more she broke out of the robotic casing that has entrapped her in the past. Comparisons with Margaret Thatcher were always foolish, but this was the closest she has come as she threw caution to the wind with her spiky attack on the “enemies of enterprise” that will make her even more of a hate figure for the Left.

So conference ended much better than it started, but Ms Truss will be acutely aware that it will take more than a well-received speech delivered to hardcore supporters to repair the damage of her chaotic first week in office.

Rhetoric and presentation will not move markets, and when she returns to Parliament next week, Ms Truss will be confronted by the mish-mash of opposing tribes that is the Conservative Party of 2022.

Most of them were not at the conference to hear her speak. It will be actions, not words, that determine whether they allow her to fight the next general election.