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What’s He Doing There?

30 Oct 2022 5 minute read
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak alongside Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, Stefan Rousseau PA image

Ben Wildsmith

You can relax now; we have awoken from the Trussian nightmare, and everything is back to normal.

The UK citizenry was understandably incensed by crazed idealogues seizing the levers of government and crashing the economy, so it is comforting to know that we are once again safe in the hands of cold eyed, market-approved operatives who can be trusted to euthanise our dreams gradually and with a veneer of compassion.

Is life going to be worse? Of course it is! How could things get better if they didn’t get worse in the first place? If things didn’t get worse, we wouldn’t need politicians at all, and then where would we be?

‘Worse’ is the crucial ingredient of hope, and hope can only be created by skilled politicians who can manufacture it from despair.

‘Everything is awful!’ the politician explains. ‘You and your children are on the brink of starvation!’

They have our attention. We draw our children closer…

‘But behold, I am here, and all will be well!’

Our children look up at us expectantly…

‘But first, things must get worse…’


The election of Liz Truss was only possible because the electorate was small enough, and insane enough to be impervious to outside influence of any sort.

With her defenestration, it must be salutary for Tory members to realise that even their entitlement is no longer sufficient to see their votes count in 21st century Britain. Like the rest of us they must be looking at Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt and wondering how the hell they got there.

The fear must be that we are allowing unprecedented erosion of our civic culture because we are too collectively traumatised to do anything about it.

The last election was less than three years ago but that strange Christmas when Boris Johnson did his creepy John Lewis advert is separated from us by a pandemic that killed hundreds of thousands and a series of emergency measures that required us to surrender every last vestige of personal freedom.

I still sometimes reflexively reach for a non-existent mask when entering a building. That sort of practice becomes embedded into us, as does the acceptance that leadership being imposed upon us is justified by crisis.

If this were the case then democracy could be suspended indefinitely as long as crises were continually manufactured… oh, hang on…


So, as our government has been appointed by market extortion, we should at least be curious enough to try to make sense of what it actually wants to do. The answer to this seems to be depressingly simple: give our money to the markets.


The only substantive change on offer from the new regime is a promise of ‘fiscal responsibility’‒ for which read austerity.

Other batshit elements of the Truss dystopia have been retained as a sop to the newly disenfranchised membership.

The cap on bankers’ bonuses will still be lifted (colour me shocked), Brexit remains an article of faith which must not be questioned, and immigration still features as the national scapegoat.

Anyone hoping that the environment would receive more serious attention from the new PM will have adjusted their expectations upon hearing that he’s not going to bother showing up to next week’s COP 27. Neither he is allowing an appearance by regal yoghurt knitter, King Charles.

To underscore his ‘burn baby burn’ attitude to the issue, Sunak appointed cigar-chomping shambles Therese Coffey to head up DEFRA. You can marvel at her forensic grasp of the details here.

Mark Drakeford, we are assured, has received a telephone call from the Prime Minister. Reports that the mandate-rich First Minister threatened to ‘do you like I done Davies in the Senedd’ remain unconfirmed at press time.


But there has to be a narrative of change.

While the reality of this government is that it will drip-bleed our wages to satisfy market demands, the press has been content to go with the diversity angle.

A glance at Twitter will reveal Spectator hacks and GB News propagandists hailing the dawn of multicultural Britain with the blood of Sadiq Khan still drying around their mouths.

Suella Braverman, they tell us, is a Buddhist, presumably the sort of Buddhist who compassionately sweeps ants from her path and on to privately chartered jets to Rwanda.

But who do we blame now?

When Johnson was treating the country as a playpen for his extended toddlerhood, we could point at the Brexit-addled voters in England who fell for his sweaty advances.

It was the reliably incorrect Tory membership that foisted Liz Truss upon us.

This time, the author of our misery has been voted for by precisely nobody.

Even Tory MPs ended up with no choice.

If we quietly acquiesce to this, we have nobody to blame but ourselves.

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Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
1 year ago

A phrase often heard, terribly misused and entirely inaccurate in relation to Trump and Johnson was ‘He tells it like it is’. Well here is a piece of excellent writing again from Ben which actually does TELL IT AS IT IS.

1 year ago

Well written forthright prose

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