Many observers are expressing disgust at Rishi Sunak’s ‘[boast] of taking money from “deprived urban areas” to help wealthy towns’ at a hustings event for the Tory party leadership election. Such a reaction is quite bewildering. It’s bizarre that there is widespread shock at this forthright admission of zeal for class war and wealth transference, for such sentiments are demonstrated acutely in every political project the Tories have embarked upon since 2010, and further into the past beyond that.
More confusing still is the idea that this ostensibly clumsy act of ‘saying the quiet part loud’, in an age where every political utterance is recorded for eternal posterity, will now inevitably ‘finish him off’, bringing Sunak’s (already doomed to fail) leadership campaign to a premature end.
Why would it? There is nothing new here, nor anything hitherto hidden being inadvertently revealed. Everybody already knows the information that can be gleaned from Sunak’s pithy statement. Even the crudest popular conception of what the Tories are expresses plainly the politics demonstrated by Sunak here. Nobody can point to its content and seriously implore that it kickstarts the hubristic downfall of the capitalist class.
The real issue here isn’t that people aren’t aware what the Tories are doing to this country, as those crowing about it seem to be implying. Rather, it’s that they have zero influence over them. The next Prime Minister will be chosen by ~200,000 Tory party members, who happen to be the among the most deranged, craven, selfish, privileged people in this country. It is these people alone to whom Sunak speaks: the remaining population are utterly irrelevant at this juncture. It’s his prerogative to express these thoughts as clearly and directly to the only audience worth his while to talk to. If everyone else dislikes that then, well, ‘what are you gonna do about it?’ comes the begotten taunt.
All that is expressed in the reaction to this event is liberal naivety: that the reason for political stagnation is that the majority of people simply aren’t aware of what the Tories are. But this is not the case: every victim of every observable form of oppression and exploitation expresses it, know its, lives it. It is felt as thought: it permeates British society, and produces its dominant culture.
Thus the handwringing Sunak has provoked here is merely a continuation of the same old tired, toothless politics of the liberal-left: it belies that nobody can do anything about the horror of Tory rule, and there is no possible capture of power available to change it. This impotency of hope is merely an expression of powerlessness and defeat, and speaks nothing more than a paucity of ideas or means of organising.