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Opinion

Meet the New Rishi, Same as the Old Rishi

08 Jan 2023 5 minute read
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak delivering his major policy speech. Image by Simon Dawson Downing St

Ben Wildsmith

Wandering round Barry Island on Bank Holiday Monday, I passed one of those modern fathers that they have nowadays refusing a request from his small son.

‘I’m not sure, we’ll have to wait until Mum gets back, mate.’

A better version of me would have stopped and explained to the child that his father’s use of the word ‘mate’ was the choice of a morally weak man who was attempting to impose his will whilst avoiding accountability for his decision.

As the outing was a special treat for Mrs. W, however, I abrogated my civic duty and remained outwardly cheerful as we pressed on to the chip shop.

Oleaginous shithousery

The godfather of this sort of oleaginous shithousery is, of course, Tony ‘I think most people recognise I’m a pretty straightforward guy’ Blair.

In 1997, power-hungry narcissists the world over looked on in awe as he groomed the UK with ladles of hopey-changey gloop that belied his ultimate legacy as the man who hollowed out the country into a corporate shell while setting fire to the Middle East.

Key to Blair’s success was the tone of voice he adopted when giving speeches. Looking upwards, as if at the shining sun of a new dawn, he would beseech the electorate using a rising pitch that landed just short of pleading.

After twelve years of Margaret Thatcher barking at us, followed by John Major’s defeated whimperings, the nation was ready to be appealed to. The effect was to suggest that not only was change possible, but that we could be part of it.

This, presumably, is the tonal range that Rishi Sunak was aiming for in his relaunch speech this week. Sunak, though, is beguiling nobody.

During the Blair years there was justified concern that politics was emphasising style over substance as presentational technique obscured a threadbare ideological landscape.

Sunak’s offer comprises no ideology at all and presentation more suited to a shopping channel at the far end of the Freeview listings.

Whale omelette

The guiding principle of his approach is that you and I are thicker than a whale omelette. Consequently, we need to have simple phrases repeated to us over and over again in case they fall through the holes in our tiny, proletarian minds.

Hammering home a slogan is nothing new; by the time of the 1997 election my dog used to say, ‘Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime,’ if he wanted a biscuit.

He got one too, because he’d demonstrated a defined approach to law and order which signalled an openness to progressive social policy whilst acknowledging the rights of victims. Good dog, Max.

Sunak, on the other hand, chose relentless repetition of the phrase ‘our children and grandchildren’ as a motif for his speech.

The rationale for this was unclear but might have been to suggest that the slider-wearing plutocrat was ‘one of us’ in so much as he possesses the requisite human qualities to procreate.

Alternatively, he might have been indicating that the fruits of his policies would be reaped by future generations and encouraging us to relinquish the last vestiges of our own hopes for contentment.

Terminal vacuity

Either way, it epitomised the terminal vacuity at the heart of his speech and, by extension, his government. The PM’s theme was ‘the people’s priorities’, of which there were five.

Whenever a politician invokes ‘the people’ my hackles raise as I am bound to hear about a homogenous blob of humanity that is ‘hard-working’, ‘decent’ and happens to agree with everything they say.

This time ‘the people’ were treated to a Derren Brown-style demonstration of psychic showmanship as Sunak revealed to us what we wanted him to do.

‘Think of a government priority, any priority, don’t tell me what it is. Is it halving inflation?’

‘The spirits are speaking now. I’m getting the word…migrants.’

The ‘people’s priorities’ turn out to be the exact same things that the government was already going to do. I mean, what are the odds?

Specious stunt

The likelihood is that this Westminster government is toast regardless of what it does between now and an election.

Sunak spoke of ‘restoring trust in politics’ whilst mounting a specious political stunt that insulted the intelligence of anybody that witnessed it.

The sense of impending disaster is palpable on these islands and people are losing their lives as our essential services crumble before our eyes.

So, don’t talk to us of trust.

We have been lied to, gaslit and swindled for as long as any of us can remember. The ‘people’s priority’ is that you and everybody like you be removed from influence over our lives.

Is that clear, mate?

You can find the more of Ben’s writing on Nation.Cymru by following his links on this map


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

Clear as the end of that rope disappearing into the heavens…Rishi and the Beanstalk…be prepared for baton charges and water cannon…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Laura K signs the Official Rhisi Secrets Act…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

It is an anagram for security purposes…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

Only the true blue bloods of the Tory ‘ancien regime’ would contract out the rule of law to a citizen of nowhere middle manager, once again…

Mawkernewek
1 month ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Keir Starmer that is?

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  Mawkernewek

Clark Kent…Posh Boy Millionaire… P.P.E. Man Hunt… take your pick…the first one to buy a watercannon…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

Did Ms (Special) K ask how much money his family have made supplying Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine? Trade between India and Putin up 400%…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

Perhaps the author might consider a hook-up with Ian Hislop or borrow the format of truth and humour, although to be fair he is doing a great job of giving us a version of Llygad Prifat now…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

Loony far right hold Rishi’s footballs to the fire over ‘small boats and brexit’ in a grotesque re-enactment of Dunkirk…

Steve George
Steve George
1 month ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

He may try to look and sound like the reasonable face of toryism, but he’s as hard loony right as anyone. Committed brexiteer, thatcherite true believer and, as anti immigrant as it’s possible for the child of immigrants to be. He may be marginally more competent than the last two w@nkers, but let’s be honest, so was a lettuce.

Don’t be fooled, he’s a tory tooth and claw!

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve George

He don’t fool me bro, none of them do. My old man was born 1913, two wars and 2 decades of turmoil until the bombs started dropping again add my 70 years and is it any wonder I sound a bit cynical…for a measure of the man look up ‘Dalit’…

Last edited 1 month ago by Mab Meirion
Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

England’s PM Rishy Sunak, the man, the mouse, the hypocrite,. He argues that our NHS nurses effectively should shut up and go back to work, who cowardly considers anti- strike laws effectively criminalising those NHS nurses fighting not only for their own wellbeing but us too as would-be patients while refusing himself to confirm whether he uses a private GP when as a public servant should practise what he bloody preaches. Remember, this is a man whose fascist authoritarian government repealed the 2017 Senedd, Trade Union Act Wales, protecting Welsh striking workers. The Tories are trying to destroy the NHS… Read more »

Mawkernewek
1 month ago

Is he thinking of the Tory Party being in power indefinitely with repetitions of ‘our children and grandchildren’?
I suppose it doesn’t do to question whether they will win the next election, because that might lead to questions along the lines of whether they should win the next election.

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