Certain Defeat Over Potential Defeat


A picture, as the saying goes, is worth a thousand words.

A few months ago, one was taken in Yorkshire, in Rishi Sunak’s constituency.

In it, the Prime Minister stands in the middle of a courtyard. Around him are a handful of conservative activists.

He looks desperate for attention and affection, a cramped half smile frozen on his melancholy face – to stop tears from flowing it seems.

They, in turn, stand a healthy six feet away as if COVID distancing rules still applied.

They carry an air of utter dejection.

Most have their gazes fixed in the middle distance, some with their hands in their pockets, others with their arms crossed.

All are tense and joyless. The sausage rolls are left untouched.

Evidently, they would rather watch the cricket than be close to the Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (a part of the country he surrendered to the European Union by signing the now discredited Windsor Framework).

The people around him are True Blue activists in the country’s most Conservative constituency.

And yet, their body language says it all: he is as popular with the people he betrayed as flatulence in a space suit.

In the game of democratic politics, however distasteful it might be to some, popularity matters. Whence it comes, no one really knows.

In this game, though, the ballot box is the key determinant.

Simply put, the one with the “mostest” wins.

Through the crucible of electioneering, the eventual winner gains the all-important legitimate right to govern.

Never in the history of Great Britain has the loser been given that right.

Until Rishi Sunak that is.

There are some pedants who still tell themselves that “we live in a parliamentary system” – ergo anything goes.

The reality is that Rishi Sunak lost his way to 10 Downing Street.

He lost against Liz Truss last summer.

He would have lost against Boris Johnson, in the aftermath of Liz Truss’ short lived Premiership, had the selection process been carried out to its conclusion last October.

The membership preference for Boris was, and would be, overwhelming.

However, the membership (the electorate in this case) was removed from the procedure.

It is threats of further and incessant plotting to destabilise a new Johnson premiership from the Sunak camp that convinced Boris not to stand against his erstwhile chancellor. To blame was also the former Prime Minister’s lack of killer instinct.

Rishi Sunak, it is worth clarifying, did not win a popular contest to gain the Premiership. He lobbied for it, having allowed sycophants to convince him that all that glitters is gold and that he too had the charisma, hitherto undetected, to win an actual election.

Revealing his hand in the machinations that eventually led to Boris’ demise, he said in interview with The Sun’s Harry Cole in July 2022: “I took no pleasure in the coup which brought down Boris”.

He added in the manner of a latter day South American tinpot Generalissimo: “We need to look forward”, hoping the population would forget the outrage and switch their allegiance unthinkingly from the legitimately elected leader of the country to him, the chancer.

In doing so, he managed to convince a minority of “Conservative” members of parliament that political charisma was bestowed on the office holder like manna from heaven.

He would need to differentiate himself from his predecessor by being “quietly competent”.

However, having won the highest political office through a process of petitioning, he naturally thought that keeping power would similarly be an exercise in PR.

Delivery of the message rather than dismantling 25 years of “progressive” policies was his focus.

But having no mandate, no electoral footprint and depending on a very narrow group of insiders for his position, he was the Manchurian candidate – in office but not in power.

An actor repeating someone else’s line so to speak.

He is there at the sufferance of a revolutionary, and increasingly Maoist Civil Service, patiently awaiting Sunak’s term to end for the Revolution to gather pace under a Labour administration.

Every poll shows Sunak has no chance of winning.

This has been true ever since he made his intentions clear.  

It is worth remembering that he lost against Liz Truss, a wooden and totally uninspiring character, in the mould of an overpromoted Theresa May.

Slowly but surely, as the lemmings get closer to the abyss, a handful of Tory MPs are starting to notice that wishful thinking is not a good strategy.

Unable to deny the reality, party insiders, usually the last to smell the coffee, have been reported as saying: “It just feels like we have completely lost control, the country is falling apart. Nobody really believes the PM can win the election anymore.”

MPs and paid employees are jumping off the sinking ship, wishing to have nothing to do with the coming electoral wipeout.

Scores of Tory MPs have already said they would not run in the next general election. They have no confidence in the man. Why should the electorate?

In addition, only a few days ago, Amber de Botton, Sunak’s luckless director of communications quit.

Sunak cannot win and cannot deliver. He has no legitimacy. It is not that Boris was a good or bad Prime Minister, it is that he was the rightfully elected leader of the country, for better or worse.

Importantly, he also won the “vote of no confidence” in July 2022, which should have allowed him to continue for another year, according to the rules.

These were torn up to make way for an unelectable chap in short trousers.

Sunak’s ambition, lack of introspection, and conniving with Civil Servants to get rid of other potential rivals, have accelerated Britain’s slide into a deadly stew of drift, orthodoxy and deep mediocrity.

A man needs to know his limitations. Sunak doesn’t.

That’s the whiff, coming out of the suit, that makes even the staunchest Conservative activists blanche.

Alex Story is Head of Business Development at a City broker working with Hedge Funds and other financial institutions. He stood for parliament in 2005, 2010 and 2015. In 2016, he won the right to represent Yorkshire & the Humber in the European Parliament. He didn’t take the seat.