Shades of Margaret Thatcher in Rishi Sunak’s Tory Revamp

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is channeling the Conservative Party’s most powerful leader Margaret Thatcher, in a desperate bid to change his party’s dismal trajectory ahead of next year’s general election. At the Conservative Party conference in Manchester Mr. Sunak recognised that his party needed to be bolder, but a wearied electorate is demanding even harder and fiercer policies to counter widespread Tory fatigue. Mr. Sunak attempted to invoke some change: making it illegal for 14-year-olds to buy cigarettes as the start of wiping out smoking within a generation and promised to crack down on vaping. He stated the scientific obvious – that men are men and women are women, to politically distance himself from the Labour leader Keir Starmer who still gets himself in knots trying to explain what a woman is in deference to the trans lobby. Mr. Sunak remarked: “It shouldn’t be controversial for parents to know what their children are being taught in school about relationships, patients should know when hospitals are talking about men or women.

“And we shouldn’t get bullied into believing that people can be any sex they want to be. They can’t, a man is a man, and a woman is a woman. That’s just common sense.” But it attracted immediate controversy. Mr. Sunak abandoned the outrageously expensive rail link Hs2 beyond Manchester, vowing to use £36bn on other transport projects, and insisted that he could control the high levels of uncontrolled migration by reigniting a plan for offshore processing in Rwanda. He said he would do “whatever is necessary” to stop the boats warning that Labour’s immigration policy could see 100,000 asylum seekers arrive in Britain each year. The Home Office this week confirmed the country spends £8m (A$15.3m) a day on hotels to house illegal migrants. He has also promised to reform the untouchable and increasingly unworkable NHS, and jail sexual and sadistic murders for life with no chance of release. Mr. Sunak’s pitch was “Delivering Long Term Decisions for a Brighter Future” which excited no-one.

The Tories will have been in power for 13 years yet have squandered Boris Johnson’s huge majority with historically high taxation, plummeting productivity, a cost-of-living crisis, unstemmed migration and a war on small businesses and landlords – programs traditionally associated with the opposition Labour Party. Mr. Sunak acknowledged that the political system was broken and doesn’t work as it should, but Tory followers are not wholly convinced he is tough enough, driven enough or Machiavellian enough to win an election. He said in this speech, his first to the Conservative Party conference as its leader, that he wanted to emulate Margaret Thatcher by bringing about this change. Mr. Sunak, 43, was introduced to the podium by his wife Akshata, who said “one word sums up my husband, aspiration’’. She stressed how Mr. Sunak, “my best friend”, was fun, thoughtful, compassionate and with an incredible zest for life.

But as she rattled off his attributes: “a strength of character, honesty, integrity, a firm understanding of right from wrong’’, it seemed it was more a pitch to prop up his teetering party leadership against fierce internal rivals Kemi Badenoch and Priti Patel than any electioneering to the electorate. And Sunak’s headline move of making it harder for wily teenagers to sneak a cigarette down the back shed is not an iron-fist first step, nor a tax-reducing hip pocket vote winner. His row back on net-zero recently was seen to be a more decisive move. The consensus across business and the party followers was that he must be far bolder.

Source: The Australian

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