It’s election year! And you know what that means? Because we don’t – namely because the last several elections have consistently bucked expectations. While it’s too early to tell what fresh horrors await us, it isn’t too early to start commenting on the electioneering process. On Sunday 7 January, prime minister Rishi Sunak attempted to fire the starting gun on his election year in an interview with the BBC‘s Laura Kuenssberg.
His gun misfired. And then it made a damp farting noise. And then it actually went off and shot him in the foot.
Sunak: uninteresting times
As exciting as the starting gun analogy sounds, the key takeaway was that Sunak just isn’t very interesting:
Depending on the political landscape, boringness could be a strength or weakness. On the one hand, boring politicians don’t stand out; on the other hand, it’s a huge benefit when your opposition stands out for all the wrong reasons. In the 2024 election, it’s unlikely boringness will be a deciding factor, as it’s a quality both Sunak and Starmer have in spades:
The above commenter is being fairly charitable to Starmer, as his problems go way beyond boringness:
In any election, boringness is likely to benefit the Tories most. As reported by the Independent:
The Tories are only supported by over-65-year-olds ahead of a looming general election, a tracker of polls reveals.
Rishi Sunak’s party is trailing Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour with voters in every age group except the over-65s, according to The Economist.
The party enjoys the support of 40 per cent of people in the oldest age bracket, compared with just 18 per cent of those aged between 18 and 34. At the last election, two thirds of over-65s voted for the Conservatives.
Meanwhile Labour is backed by more than half of 18 to 34-year-olds, and leads in the polls with everybody 64 and under.
Older people are more likely to vote than young people, and there’s a risk that Starmer proves so uninspiring that people just don’t bother (or they vote Greens/Lib Dems/other).
So, is Sunak’s weapon-grade boringness actually a clever strategy? No – he’s obviously just a very dull person. He also has the same problem Starmer does in that he can’t talk about what he actually wants – a country which solely benefits his wealthy backers – so he has to stick to the script.
The dull, dull script…
“Lies, damned lies, and statistics”
Sunak is a politician, so obviously a lot of what he said was horseshit. People were quick to point this out:
The headline of Kuenssberg’s latest blog was:
New year, new tactics but old problems for Sunak
Arguably, however, Sunak doesn’t have “new tactics”; he’s only ever had one tactic, and that’s to wildly spin like a political weathercock. The only winds he seems to register, however, are those of the pant-pissingly reactionary elements of his party (and the right-wing media). This is why Sunak is gutting environmental protections even as floods ravage the country:
It’s also why Sunak is happy to make us an international pariah for the benefit of pleasing a handful of nationalist weirdos:
Perhaps the most tawdry of all, however, is Sunak’s ‘new’ plan to facilitate tax cuts for the rich via another round of austerity:
Unfunny yet laughable Sunak
The most ridiculous moment in the Sunak interview was when he said the following:
People were quick to point out the hypocrisy of Sunak saying this:
And it didn’t stop there:
Or even there:
Bravely, Sunak used the ‘it’s not about slogans’ line to setup another slogan:
Maybe ‘It’s Not About Slogans’ will become a slogan itself with Sunak spearheading the first post-modern election? It’s unclear if that would make things less or more boring. You’d imagine that Starmer would quickly ape the approach – probably with an anti-slogan of his own like ‘Slogans Aren’t Working’.
It’s hard to imagine Sunak having anything other than a terrible election. It’s equally hard to imagine Starmer impressing once the media spotlight is on him. At this point, it seems like the most likely outcome is a Labour victory – even if Starmer manages to piss away half of his current lead (or he bores a sizeable portion of the electorate into a sleep coma).
The thing to bear in mind is this: when was the last time an election went how anyone thought it would at the beginning of the same year?
Featured image via Number 10 – Flickr (image cropped to 770 x 403)