1. Rishi Sunak "kisses hands" with King Charles (a first for both) this morning and Sunak becomes Prime Minister. I think he doesn't actually kiss.
2. It speaks well for the UK that we have a prime minister of South Asian heritage. I think one of his parents was a Kenyan Asian. As far as I can remember the only party to welcome the Kenyan Asians was the Liberals. Both the Conservative and Labour parties tried to wriggle out of any commitment to take them in. He owes us.
3. It also speaks well of the UK that we have a practising Hindu for a prime Minister, and it's rather nice that it happened on their feast of Diwali (Light). He'll still appoint the Bishops of the Church of England, though. It's interesting that we've never yet had a Roman Catholic PM. (Tony Blair "converted" after he'd resigned as PM.)
4. He's very personable, the sort of chap Tory selection committee members would rather like for a son-in law when they're selecting a parliamentary candidate.
5. He is not, however, a man of principle. His predecessor as Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid walked out rather than submit to Prime Minster Johnson's demand that he sack his own advisors and use Downing Street's. It would have been nice if the entire top echelons of the Tory party had united against Johnson's concentration of power in No 10, but Sunak had no such scruples.
6. Nor is he very moral . He openly boasted to the Tories of Tunbridge Wells (where better?) that he had diverted funds meant for depressed areas to affluent towns such as their. There's no getting away from this: you can watch the video if you google "Sunak Boasting." One of the beneficiaries of this immoral if not illegal diversion was his own constituency, Richmond, one of the poshest bits of Yorkshire.
7. Some of the newspapers are making a great fuss about his being "unelected." This does not worry me. As argued in the previous post, we are a parliamentary democracy and it is up to MPs to decide who can command a majority. A plebiscite among Tory party members with Johnson on the ballot could have led to an even greater disaster.
8. Nor am I all that sympathetic to calls for a general election, which are pretty predictable and make the opposition parties sound robotic if not pathetic. I believe in fixed term parliaments. One of the most effective parliaments was that before 2019. It failed to find a solution that would produce a Brexit beneficial to the UK, because there is no such thing, as we are painfully finding out.
9. Most of the debate and comment from Conservatives over the weekend has centred around finding a leader who could unite the party. That was the theme of Sunak's first speech to the party. What should have been the primary objective, finding someone with policies good for the country, was secondary to keeping their hands on power.
10. Sunak is seen as a "safe pair of hands" but his decisions as Chancellor were pretty feeble. He pandered to the comfortable with his silly "eat out to help out" scheme, chose to increase the tax on a "good", (employment,) rather than a "bad" (river pollution perhaps) to pay for the care system, and took a hard hearted swipe at the poor by discontinuing the £20 uplift to universal credit.
11. He also voted (and I presume campaigned) for Brexit, so is clearly susceptible to fraudulent promises and fantasy economics, if not quite to the extent that M/s Truss is.
12. Most seriously his promise to be "responsible" about the public finances means that we are to be locked into yet another round of the discredited Cameron/Osborne austerity of the 2010-15 government. There is no slack, in the NHS nor anywhere else, there are no non-damaging savings, our public services are threadbare. They need increased expenditure, and cannot sustain cuts. However, the market turmoil following the Truss recklessness means that the Tories have another fake excuse to disguise further cuts as necessary and responsible.
This is not true.
As distinguished economist Chris Grey writes:
That reaction [of the markets] was to the fact that Truss and Kwarteng’s plan was based on the total nonsense that reducing taxes would deliver growth and make government debt sustainable. It doesn’t mean that borrowing to fund public spending in ways that would plausibly promote growth would meet the same fate. Such spending would include infrastructure projects, environmentally sustainable and energy-saving projects, and significantly enhanced education spending. (My emphasis)
Oops: sorry I've forgotten Johnson was RC.ReplyDelete
It's worth reading this article in The Economist:
"Rishi Sunak’s first job? Clearing up his own mess."
Although it comes from an opposite political perspective, It supports much of what I've said about Sunak.
It's worth reading this article in The EconomistDelete
I don't subscribe to the Economist, so I can't read it. But if it points out that we are heading into a recession with the highest tax burden for seventy years, which is not where any country wants to be, and that we have massive inflation mainly caused by the massive money printing that financed the furlough scheme, and that those tax increases and that money printing happened on Sunak's watch, and now he has to find a way to get the tax burden and inflation both back down (ie, clean up his own mess), then I totally agree with it.
You are correct regarding the support for the entry to the UK of the Kenyan Asians. Labour had promised them that they would be able to come to the UK if Kenyatta expelled them. When he did so in 1968 the then Labour Government passed the 1968 Commonwealth Act to keep them out. The Liberals protested and openly opposed the Bill. In Leeds we gained a number of excellent "non-statist socialists" from the Labour party, including Maureen Baker and Peter Charlesworth who became local candidates and, having found out from the inside what the then Liberal Party was like, stayed with us. Much later Shirley Williams commented that if she was able to go back, her vote for the 1968 Act was the one vote she would like to change.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Michael, for the "further and better particulars."ReplyDelete
He openly boasted to the Tories of Tunbridge Wells (where better?) that he had diverted funds meant for depressed areas to affluent towns such as their. There's no getting away from this: you can watch the video if you google "Sunak Boasting."ReplyDelete
I've now got around to watching this and reading about the context, and if you do that it's clear that your characterisation is utterly mistaken. What he was boasting about was having undone Labour's rules which channelled funding for deprived areas all into deprived urban areas (because those areas tend to vote Labour) and away from deprived rural and coastal areas (because those areas tend to vote Conservative).
Do you really think that deprived urban areas are more deserving of funding than deprived rural or coastal areas? If so, why?