Rishi Sunak – UK’s new Prime Minister

Quite extraordinary times. Immediate reactions from journalists from all countries around the globe. Some joy, uncertainty, consternation and a bit of hope. Most certainly a mixture of emotions.

If someone told me that the last Prime Minister will last less than 50 days, I would not believe it. If someone told me that a new Prime Minister, who actually lost to Liz Truss only 6 weeks ago, will become the new Leader of Britain, I would also not believe.

I suppose that the election of the new Leader of the Conservative Party and the Prime Minister can be looked at from different angles.

Although so much has changed in the UK, for better, in my view the social and political class system is still embedded in the UK. For that reason, I am pleased that a new Prime Minister has an Indian heritage. We should celebrate the fact that the most important and prestigious office in the land will be held by someone from a minority ethnic background. I do hope that it might inspire others, from “hard to reach groups” (or easy to ignore!), to be more engaged in civic and public life. Although I strongly believe that race or faith affiliation should not matter, diversity and inclusion in politics, apart from skills and talents, should be celebrated.

On the other hand, I also wonder whether the process of electing a new Prime Minister should be immediately looked into and possibly reformed. Last two Prime Ministers have not received a mandate from the general public. It is worth noting that Rishi Sunak has won a backing of around 180 MP’s, which was enough to become the Prime Minister. Should the public have an opportunity to express its views of the political and economic direction of the UK? Or was it better, due to national and global political instability, to simply elect a new Leader and address some of the key issues, which are affecting Britain today?

Whatever we think, wherever we stand on the political spectrum, today marks another historic day in British politics. It has been a few very busy months in the UK. It often felt like watching a horror movie or a bad soap opera. The new government must be held accountable to every single action it takes. The Conservative Party has already had 12 years to deliver for people in Britain. I personally have had enough of chaos and “political dramas”. It is time to see some tangible outcomes of their decisions.

* Michal Siewniak is a Lib Dem activist and councillor for Handside ward, Welwyn Hatfield.

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  • George Thomas 24th Oct '22 - 4:47pm

    It does indeed break down further barriers that we have non-Caucasian Prime Minister and it’s hopeful that Rishi Sunak’s lived experience will soften racism within Tory party, however it was Rishi Sunak who met with the Great Barrington Declaration mob and pushed for their agenda to expand infections despite the known greater burden of COVID-19 in ethnic minorities.

    I do hope it expands who is engaged in politics and helps increase understanding of the complexity of racism in a modern country…Suella Braverman’s “I have a dream” speech was quite different to the one voiced by Martin Luther King Jr.

    We now have a Prime Minister who hadn’t spoken publicly for 6 weeks who wasn’t elected by party members (those not employed by Tory party) and a leader of opposition who appears to be reneging on stances made to his party members when voted for. Politics is back to being decided in closed rooms with small number of powerful people which has its own pros and cons as a system, but in the main I think it means things will appear more effective (thus cooling down panic in the markets) until we hear about the drama and chaos in FoI requests and autobiographies several years after the events.

  • “Closed doors “, ie MPs is more democratic and accountable than party members “mandate”!

  • Barry Lofty 24th Oct '22 - 5:13pm

    Being selfish, along with many other people in the country ,I would be happy if the markets and the economy were to become more stable, but that does not alter the fact that there is something fundamentally wrong with our electoral system although I cannot envisage a change ,unfortunately, at least in the immediate future.

  • We have a parliamentary democracy, and whether we like it or not, the leader of the party with the majority is the PM, so long as their MPs will support them in Parliament. The problem is that we’ve been shifting towards a Presidential style of leadership, which IMO is a bad thing. But if that does continue, should we have more power to directly elect a PM, or is that further encouraging a Presidential approach? On balance, I prefer the PM to be answerable to Parliament throughout their time in office.

    IMO, the real problem is that the Tory party has an artificial majority in the Commons because of FPTP. If we had any reasonable form of PR then the public would have more of a say in who becomes PM. If only everyone complaining about an unelected PM were to support other reforms to make Parliament more democratic. I even saw unelected Lord Zach Goldsmith complaining that Sunak didn’t win an election, unlike BoJo (who dished out peerages to all his unelected pals).

    Whatever our views, Sunak has no obligation to hold an election & the only people with the power to force it would be Tory rebels. IMO we’d be better off using any media attention to raise issues that Sunak should address rather than being yet another in a long line of opposition voices demanding the same thing that everyone knows won’t happen. Or take the opportunity to call for Parliamentary reform to include PR.

  • Chris Moore 24th Oct '22 - 5:49pm

    When I was kidnapped by aliens – the first time that is – they were wearing yellow cardigans, thick plastic spectacles and had eight legs with a sandal at the end of each.

    They had a message for this World – I merely produce the sounds in an approximate transliteration, “Bweeze, bweeze wing in porporal crapresentattion. Ooo weel have no more cwuptiin, towies, unvereness, cwaaim o nasty sechs waik in ovver pwanets.”

    No idea what it all means.

  • The conservatives dare not allow their members a vote having got it wrong last time. However he was not even elected by MPs. There must be very many annoyed Tories tonight.

  • @Tim
    He had the public support of well over 50% of MPs. I think Tories quite content tonight by and large.

  • Paul Barker 24th Oct '22 - 7:59pm

    The big question is whether the new Sunak Administration will get any sort of Polling “Bounce” ? The last 20 Polls suggest that Tory support is still falling.

  • Tristan Ward 24th Oct '22 - 8:16pm

    Personally I am willing to put up with Paiamemtary Democracy (subject to PR of course) because the Will of the People” has proved such a disastrous alternative over the last few years.

    The problem is the Conawrvative Party, pure and simple. If they prove incapable of forming a stable government (and I think they may well not be) then there needs to be an election.

    The constitutional problem is how to dissolve parliament when there is unstable government and the party with the majority in the HoC is not willing to call an election.

    We had different problem in 2017-19. Then there was a stable government that could not get its policy past a HoC that was unwilling (until November 2019 at least) to call an election.

  • Russell Officially every vote was spoiled except one. Something happened to the Mordaunt campaign in the last hour that was suspicious. I was referring to the members who are well to the right of the MPs. Already the Telegraph is calling out discontent

  • I think there’s bound to be a bounce if Tory MPs can show a bit of discipline, but even a decent bounce will leave them on shaky ground.

    The risk for them is that certain personalities and lobby groups have got used to the idea that they can pull the strings of government and dictate policy from the shadows. They’ll continue to try, and some are going to be left disappointed. I think that explains some of the existing rumblings, and time will if they are prepared to hole the ship to make a point.

  • David Goble 25th Oct '22 - 9:07am

    @ Fiona – your post yesterday of 5:21pm. I agree with the need for some form of PR. It will probably mean a succession of hung Parliaments; would that be a bad thing? It means that MPs of differing parties would need to talk to each other to get policies enacted and this would, hopefully, stop further influence from the far-Left or far-Right groupings.

  • PR would certainly be better than the current electoral system, but it really isn’t going to solve all that much: some European countries have far-right parties as part of the government under PR systems, the far-left has never held any UK parliamentary power under FPTP either, and any benefits would likely take a couple of decades to come through.

    Certainly PR would likely lead to more Lib Dem MPs (and on current polling, also more Conservative MPs than FPTP, though that’s not likely to be true by the next General Election) but that’s only going to be viewed as a good thing if you can express why more Lib Dem MPs in Parliament and Government would help with any of the current crises.

  • Laurence Cox 25th Oct '22 - 12:02pm

    For those who criticize the Tory Party in Parliament’s approach to selecting which MP would be their next leader and hence PM, we should remember that our own procedures are not above criticism. While elections to Federal Party bodies (thankfully) attract more candidates than places, I cannot remember the last time I was offered a vote in an election for London’s representatives on English Council even though EC covers the vast majority of Lib Dem members. As far as I can tell EC members are effectively self-nominated.

  • I don’t have a problem with ‘hung parliaments’ or coalitions representative of how the public voted, as is common in most countries. Overall they are a good thing, and far better than a minority government having majority control. They don’t solve all problems, but they reduce a lot of them, and this particular Tory government has been controlled by their own right-wing.

    It depends a lot on the choice of system, but one of the many benefits of STV, which our party supports, is the preferential aspect encourages positive campaigning, rather than the adversarial style that makes future cross-party working or coalitions trickier. It would take a while to bed in, but we’d get immediate benefits. Having a parliament that represents the people is a good thing. It would lead to greater long-term stability with governments better placed to plan for the long term, as changes in government tend to shift gradually with the public mood.

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