Rishi Sunak’s speech shows he is a PM in a hurry
Rishi Sunak‘s speech had the feel of the party conference speech he never gave; cast as he was, briefly, last autumn, towards political oblivion, before the implosion of Liz Truss’s premiership. His five promises are an attempt to provide structure and accountability to his next 12 months of governing.
Some look eminently achievable, others are rather vague. And then there is one that reminds us how grim things are – promising the economy will grow by the end of the year would still mean months and months of recession beforehand. Labour claimed they were all things that were happening anyway, or solving problems of the Tories’ own making.
Mr Sunak sought to set out what drives him: His passion for education, an aspiration all young people in England study maths in some form until they’re 18. His anger at anti-social behavior, albeit without new specific ideas to tackle it. Amid what many see as the multiple crises now, this broad vision might appear jarring to some.
But it’s worth remembering the oddity of how he came to be in the job he’s doing – this is a man who became prime minister in the blink of an eye, still attempting to introduce himself to the country.
And he hasn’t got much time, with the ticking clock of an election within two years, to deliver enough, quickly enough.
Little wonder, even if he intentionally avoids the outwardly frenetic pace and hurtle Liz Truss so self-consciously embraced, this is a prime minister in a hurry.
He doesn’t have long to prove that he should be given longer, a full term after a general election.
By contrast, when we hear from the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer on Thursday, there’ll be much less of a sense of stamping on the accelerator.
Labor strategists conclude a general election this year is highly unlikely and so now is not the time for them to be unveiling lots of shiny new policies. The shinier the policy, the more tempting it might be for the government to nick it.
So instead it is a broader vision of how they claim they would govern better. There’ll be more talk about pushing power away from Westminster with Sir Keir as prime minister, and more talk about there not being a splurge of spending.
Labour won’t be “getting its big government chequebook out again”, as he’ll put it. Sir Keir hopes this can help reassure former Conservative voters that they can trust Labour with the economy.
Some on the left might ponder what the point of a Labour government is that isn’t willing to spend more money.
The Labour leader is also heading to Stratford in east London to make his case, the very place Mr Sunak took us for his speech. Both men are each grappling to be seen as the most competent and inspiring manager of a rather bleak era.
In other news – Prince Harry accuses Prince William of physical attack in a new book
Prince Harry has claimed his brother William physically attacked him, according to the Guardian, which says it has seen a copy of the Duke of Sussex’s memoir, Spare.
The newspaper reported that the book sets out an argument between the pair over Prince Harry’s wife Meghan. Learn more