So it had to come down to this. 11 privately educated politicians up and down (but mostly down) the country entered the race for Tory party leadership and, after a very quick initial phase in which 9 were either eliminated by their fellow MPs or pulled out of the race due to allegations that they would rather didn’t come to light, it’s finally come down to these two. The dynamic duo. I think we all knew it would be these two by the end. Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss will duke it out on the nation’s television sets and social media timelines to see who will be crowned Boris Johnson’s successor and the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (but I don’t think they actually want the Northern Ireland bit, it just comes with the rest of it.)
These two political powerhouses are not holding back so far, it has been a tasteful, deliberate, thought-out marketplace of ideas, the likes of which the Tories have always advocated. I cannot even imagine watching a Tory leadership debate (could just end the sentence there) in which policy isn’t front and centre, behind a barrage of culture war lunacy and flag-waving over who is more effusive in their desire to lower corporate tax and be more like Margaret Thatcher. While the likes of Labour fret and frolic about getting more police on the streets and going back to the extremely nationalist anti-union roots that the Labour party was founded upon, the Conservatives have decided to focus more on what the modern man on the street wants, such as a £50 voucher to help pay the £2000 increase in our annual energy bills. So if you’re reading this from some far away exotic land, and wonder who are these people that are soon going to be being told what to do by Joe Biden, let me lay it out for you.
Our first contender will be familiar to those with an interest in British politics, Rishi Sunak rose to prominence during the recent Covid-19 outbreak you may have seen in the news, and has been going from strength to strength to massive scandal to strength ever since. When the Boris Johnson-led Tory party won an overwhelming majority in December 2019, there was the inevitable reshuffle of senior positions in the cabinet, whereby some politicians will get moved from one highly paid position they have no experience or knowledge of, to another, more demeaning, highly paid position they have no experience or knowledge of. One man who was offered the opportunity to keep his job, with certain caveats was Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajid Javid. This is the man who is basically in charge of all the money and the budget for the country (and it is always a man, because Boris Johnson thinks that a women would spend the budget on shopping). Unfortunately the caveats offered to Sajid Javid, the lack of freedom he would have in this role, was too much to bear, and I must now pause to repeat a line I heard at the time. Sajid Javid resigned from his post, saying “No self-respecting minister would agree to keep working under the terms which I have been offered.” He then added “And neither will I.”
Enter the minister with no self-respect, Rishi Sunak! A popular continuity appointment due to Boris Johnson’s “one in, one out” policy of ethnic minorities in his cabinet. Coming in to the right place at just the right time, Sunak had the privilege of being the one to announce all the meagre measures that the government was taking to help the country financially as it staggered through the first wave of the pandemic, like me staggering from bin to bin to throw up in on my first post-lockdown night out. Thanks to schemes like furlough and mortgage holidays (though not rent holidays), he quickly gained popularity and polled at the highest approval rating of any UK politician in recorded history. The cherry on top was the Eat Out to Help Out scheme in summer 2020 in which the government paid for half your meal in exchange for you exposing to a contagious virus (To be fair, I actually did like that. Simply because buying me a burger is a better use of government money than spending it on bombing Yemeni children, but luckily they found the money to do both.) He hit almost 9/11-Giuliani-like levels of political popularity and the only thing that could stop him is if his billionaire wife was found to not be paying any tax.
After that setback he got back in his lane of being hated like a normal politician, but maybe through a knack for political gamesmanship, every other candidate being a sort of sewage monster, or some magical combination of both, he found himself one of the favourites for Conservative party leadership. While he went to one of the most expensive private schools in the country and may look like an unsettling claymation figure when viewed from straight on, Sunak comes from a humble background and as a result he wants to build a society that cares for everyone, from the aristocracy to the working class, well not the working class, but you know. Sunak says he takes inspiration from his role model Margaret Thatcher and if he got into power he would use it to treat his friends by lowering corporation tax.
I don’t know anything about Liz Truss really, so we’ll be learning at the same time, isn’t that fun. It says here that in the last reshuffle in September 2021 she got promoted from International trade Secretary to Foreign Secretary, right so she’s the one who has been selling weapons to Saudi Arabia to bomb Yemen with. Neat how it all comes together like that, isn’t it? It will come as welcome news to the pacifists among us though, that Liz Truss isn’t always on the side of the aggressor, she has really dug her heels in about this whole nasty war in Ukraine business and seems to have quite upset Russian ministers with her patented mix of hard-nosed foreign policy and not knowing what Ukraine is. This culminated in a summit with the Russian foreign minister, in which she said that the UK would never recognise Russian sovereignty over Voronezh and Rostov, thinking they were part of Ukraine, when in actuality they’ve been part of Russia for as long as it’s existed. You win some, you lose some, I guess.
There’s some more stuff in her wiki about trade deals, sanctions yadda yadda, it’s all very Star Wars prequels, I don’t really care. Let’s have a look at her stances for leadership. She said she would take immediate action to ameliorate the cost of living crisis and then changed her mind saying there would be “no handouts”, so that’s the £50 energy voucher down the drain then. You’d think that she’d be in favour of paying for the energy company’s profits out of the treasury, given that she used to work for Shell, but I suppose it coming out of the taxpayer’s bank accounts cuts out the middle man and leaves more money for giving medical contracts to their friends’ private companies. The redeeming feature about Liz Truss is her parents, whom she described as being “left of Labour” (doesn’t take much), her mother was a campaigner for nuclear disarmament, while her father outright refused to support her in any local elections due to her being a Conservative. Imagine how disappointed you must be if you tried to raise a child to be good person, and they end up turning into Liz Truss. Looking forward for this particular election, Truss says she takes inspiration from her role model Margaret Thatcher and if she got into power she would use it to treat her friends by lowering corporation tax… Wait hang on.
But enough about the two runners’ backgrounds, the future of our fair sceptred isle lies in the hands of the people! (Read: a small section of white Conservative voters who could divert enough money from their Charles Tyrwhitt quarter-zips to pay for party membership). So how will the candidates aim to secure the votes of this most hard-to-please demographic? Well, with regards to policy, Brexit has already happened meaning slagging off immigrants isn’t the trump card it used to be and it looks like they’re both banging the “tax breaks for the rich” drum pretty hard, so let’s take a look at what is bound to be the deciding factor in the end: Trivial culture war exceptionalism!
The opening bout in this fight, the first punch thrown, is bound to be levelled in defence of the humble milkman. Surprising, I know, but there is nothing that quite stirs up nostalgia for something that most people never actually had more than the pointless and twee practice of an old-fashioned milkman, dressed in full whites, prattling around in his electric cart with the glass bottles directly from the cow’s milky, delicious reserves. And if either of these two candidates can gain a single vote by defending the place of the milk delivery service in society, you can expect them to defend it to the hilt and beyond. I expect both candidates to really go hammer and tongs on this one to really evoke the spirit of a children’s book written 50 years ago in their campaigns. It’s worth mentioning that the milkman system, incidentally, is not in any danger of being toppled. But if there’s one thing that will stir up public support, it’s taking the side of a beloved institution such as milkmen. Don’t expect either Sunak or Truss to relent on this one. This could get tasty.
On the topic of old children’s books, the second you hear the name “Paddington” mentioned, you’d best leg it into the kitchen and come out asap with the biggest bowl of popcorn your arms will carry, because this one will be a doozy. I’ve been feeling for a while that Paddington The Bear is due for a perceived attack from the woke brigade any minute now, for reasons hitherto unknown. Hey, no one expected them to go after Christmas and call it Happy Holidays, but they did that. And no one expected them to turn Postman Pat into a woman but they’re gonna do that any day now! So yes, next in line is our beloved bear Paddington and, if I have my say on it, I think our two potential future leaders will appear to treasure Paddington like he was their own son. After all, he had tea with the Queen for her jubilee, if there’s two things the Tory voter base loves, it’s the monarchy and the children’s characters that embolden it. I can’t see either candidate backing down on this one and in fact, by September, don’t be surprised if Sunak is coming to debates wearing a red hat and a blue raincoat. This is another topic that is just too close to call.
Last but not least: The classified results on 5Live. For those of you that aren’t familiar with British football, on BBC radio, at the end of the traditional Saturday afternoon football matches, the scores of every professional match in England and Scotland are read out for 5 monotonous minutes, in what has oft been described as the best 5 minutes of radio that the BBC has to offer. They recently saw fit to get rid of this as all the kids can see football scores on their Tiktoks and their Snapchats anyway and boy, did it cause one hell of a backlash. There was an uproar like you wouldn’t believe once everyone actually noticed they were gone. I expect both candidates to really swing for the fences on this one, neither one wants to be seen as siding with the young generation and it really is hard to call just who will be able to more strongly evoke the feeling of injustice and siege mentality against the woke mob when they rally around this, could be another dead heat.
I really thought one of those factors would have separated the two candidates, but I suppose neither of them shutting up about completely irrelevant things means that there’ll be a lot of distraction without any kind of progress to show for it. So the real deciding factor will probably be something like which one of them is taller, or whiter, or a man.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my breakdown and becoming a bit more informed on the two candidates. The one thing I truly value in my art, and let’s face it, it is art, is the educational aspect, giving people the tools they need to learn more about the world around them, so that when the time comes, all the Conservative Party members that read this make the right decision. Some people like to say that I use satire to effect social change, and this article could well swing it if there was any semblance of real democracy in Britain. Or indeed if I had any strong feelings either way about which candidate is better, but as it goes I think they should both be taken behind Cheltenham Town Hall and shot, then replaced with an AI that can better decisions on how to run the country, such as a magic 8 ball.
I’d like to use the end section of my article to encourage any UK-based readers to sign up for Don’t Pay UK, the organised action movement to stop the rise of energy bills pushing families into debt by refusing to pay the unjustified increases.
It has happened before. In 1990, under Thatcher, 30 per cent refused to pay Poll Tax and it was eventually repealed, and this was before Twitter.