Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence. There’s no better rule.
There are so many phrases to describe the situation that we seem to be in at the moment with regards to the leader of our great nation. Horns of a dilemma, Hobsons Choice, lesser of two evils….
In essence, the choice between either the current Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, and the erstwhile Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak seems an unappealing one. Not least because of the undercurrent of mistrust and mutual disregard that has become increasingly apparent during each off the potential leader debates. I’m rather missing the bonhomie of the ‘I agree with Nick’ and Rory Stewart’s ‘Let me just loosen this tie to show I’m one of the people’ days. Instead, we get the kind of passive aggressive sniping more usually seen round the table three days after Boxing Day when, like fish, the guests have begun to go off, and everyone is starting to wish they were anywhere but there.
Maybe I’m swayed by the suits – I am rather partial to a man in bespoke tailoring – but I can’t quite get my head round Truss as a Prime Minister. She’s not as scary as Thatcher, and probably a bit more fun than Teresa May – she does love that Ministerial dressing-up box after all – but still doesn’t strike me as stern enough for the job. But then neither did Johnson.
Sunak, in turn, could well prove to be all suit and no substance. He may look the part, and he’d certainly hold his own on the Downing Street steps in a line-up with Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron, but there is still then a tiny whiff of the posh school swot about him.
It all seems to be coming down to tax, and the two have diametrically opposed views on what should be done about it. Truss has a point, in that reducing taxes will make people on the street feel better, feel that they have more money in their pockets on pay-day, and will feel a little more confident abut spending it. We work in an industry, after all, where a little consumer confidence goes a long way. Sunak, on the other hand, knows that any largesse given now will have to be paid for later. The furlough scheme wasn’t perfect, and it did get abused by companies and, indeed workers, but it was brought in at astonishing pace, at a time what was needed was someone to say ‘it’ll be OK. You won’t starve. You will get some money coming in, even if you aren’t actually able to do your job thanks to Covid lockdown.” OK, so the newest employees, freelancers and the self-employed were a bit stiffed by it, but, like I said, it wasn’t perfect. Neither was it a gift. Largesse that generous was always going to have to be paid back. Sunak believes the best way is to do that sooner rather than later. Truss disagrees.
What I’d like to see from which ever one gets the job is a clear recognition of the importance of the construction and housing sectors to the economy. I’d like to see a Minister appointed who can actually do the job properly, not one who views housing as a stepping stone to better things, something to be endured for a few months and got out of the way once the person’s ‘true potential’ has been spotted and recognised. Is that too much to ask? On past experience, yes, it is.
Still, it will all come down to what the 180,000+ Conservative Party members want, so who knows.
In the meantime, if you haven’t seen this, then hunt it down on BBC Sport’s Twitter feed, and watch it. Again and again. Her name is Tess, and she’s amazing. Find something in your life that makes you feel like this.