Comment Writer Eloise Howell contemplates the downward spiral of Rishi Sunak’s political stance in light of his recent media blunders

Written by Eloise Howell

When turning on the news in the past couple of weeks, you’d be forgiven for thinking you accidentally switched on an episode of The Thick of It or an SNL skit. Given the levels of incompetency, headlines would be comical, if they weren’t so concerning. At current, the UK’s political landscape could be likened to something of a wasteland, bleak with political parties embroiled in bitter disagreements in both inter-party conflicts and wider Parliament. Or a school playground, but instead of screaming children, it’s jeering politicians taking cheap shots at one another in the name of political point-scoring. And the man at the head of it all, Rishi Sunak, has been making misstep after misstep. 

I would argue his appearances in the media for the past few weeks have been nothing short of shocking; each interview is simply a man with no political instincts digging himself deeper into a hole of disrepair.

“We are watching Sunak quickly lose his grip on his image, his party, and his chances of being elected Prime Minister again”

I believe we are watching Sunak quickly lose his grip on his image, his party, and his chances of being elected Prime Minister again. I wish to reflect on whether these frequent media blunders and borderline embarrassing by-election defeats are signalling toward the end of Rishi Sunak’s time in power, and more notably, 13 years of Conservative Party reign. 

In a recent PMQs, while listing a Labour U-turns, Sunak exclaimed that ‘He [Starmer] can’t even define what a woman is’. It seems to him as if the comment was just another jibe, thoughtless and distasteful. However, while this isn’t the first flippant, transphobic remark Sunak has made in recent months, the presence of Esther Ghey was perhaps crucial in the reaction to Sunak’s comment. The backlash was astounding; news outlets, social media, and MPs – even those in his own party – urged him to apologise. This led me to question whether this was simply another clumsy misstep, in a desperate attempt to gain a one-up on Starmer. 

However, Sunak doubled down on his comments in a BBC interview and refused to apologise, instead criticising Starmer for taking his comments in such a way. To me, this demonstrates perfectly the essence of the Tory party: throwing toys out of the pram, and neglecting to ever take accountability for their actions. A few days prior, he appeared on Piers Morgan Uncensored and made a £1,000 bet that he would get ‘the people on the planes’ before the next election. How are we in an age where our Prime Minister makes bets on famously controversial YouTube channels and treats human lives as something to gamble on? I believe this solidifies that this is not a serious nor an empathetic government, nor is this a man capable of conjuring even an illusion of it. 

However, it is not just media outrage that signals the final threads being pulled apart. Recent by-elections illuminate that Sunak is edging closer to political disrepair. On the 15th of February, Conservatives faced devastating losses in two former safe seats, Kingswood and Wellingborough, with Labour overturning their majorities. Despite this, Sunak told BBC News ‘Stick with our plan, because it is starting to deliver the change that the country wants and needs’. And this prompts the train of thought ‘Now it’s starting to deliver the change the country wants and needs?’. Was four years of Tory rule not enough to do that? I believe these losses demonstrate that Sunak and his government are precisely not what the country wants. Is he simply putting on a front of false confidence or is he indulging in a desperate delusion as his grip on his image, party, and country is slipping?

Of course, this cannot be entirely attributed to Sunak. After all,

“He’s just another clown in the circus the Tory party has churned out in the last few years.”

he’s just another clown in the circus the Tory party has churned out in the last few years. With his predecessors bumbling ‘Bojo’, a man who couldn’t brush his hair let alone stick to a single COVID policy, and Liz Truss, whose term was outlived by a lettuce, expectations for Sunak were low. Yet, his tenure has exemplified the cracks at the very core of the party. An inability to deliver on many promises, inter-party divisions, and media appearances in the last few months, I believe, demonstrates a man so disconnected and out of touch with the country he leads. A Prime Minister who laughs at desperate citizens, refuses to take accountability, and places bets on issues as pressing and as sensitive as immigration and asylum seekers is certainly not a leader this country needs, and evidently is not want it wants either. With a general election coming up this year, it will be interesting to see the outcome amidst such political turmoil. And perhaps with Sunak putting the final nail in the coffin of shambolic governing for the past few years, we will see the end of 14 years of Tory reign.

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