I suppose it was almost inevitable. Nearly every Conservative MP has their own show on GB News, so it was only a matter of time before it was Rishi Sunak’s turn. The prime minister is going to have a free diary after the next election. Perhaps he could do a weekly phone-in show from California. Though the £100,000 he might get for it probably won’t be nearly enough to make ends meet. He paid five times more than that in tax last year.
For Rishi’s Big Break on GB News, we got an hour-long Q&A on the People’s Forum – a lucky audience of undecided voters selected by the polling company Survation.
“Rishi here,” he gurned in trailers screened throughout the day. “Ask me anything.” Though hopefully not about tax. Sunak didn’t seem that keen to explain why he paid a lower tax rate than most of the rest of the country.
On the GB News message board, the first questions started rolling in. “Hedgehog” wanted to know why the Muslims got a special vote in elections. It’s possible Hedgehog hadn’t quite understood what commentators meant when they talked of the Muslim vote. Ray Sellars reckoned there should be daily flights of illegal immigrants to the Falklands. Somehow I didn’t think that question would get selected either.
Presenter Stephen Dixon opened the show with a brief welcome and then handed over to Rish!, who proceeded to make his opening remarks with his back to the camera. Not the greatest 60 seconds of television.
It’s been a tough few years, Sunak began. Covid. Ukraine. Curiously he didn’t also think to mention Brexit or the Liz Truss budget. Or 14 years of Conservative incompetence. Sunak is getting very forgetful these days.
Rish! then moved on to his five priorities. Sorry, your priorities. Yet again, he has merely been doing us all a favour. Mumble, mumble, mumble. So as we could all see – well, we might have done if we had been able to hear properly – he was actually delivering on all five of his priorities.
Everything was working perfectly. We had never had it so good. “I can offer change,” he concluded. Let’s run through this again. You can offer change from yourself and your government. That’s very big of you.
On to the first question. David from Darlington. Tell us one thing of any substance you’ve actually done. Rish! bounced into life. He had been to Darlington. Once. Never again. But he loved the north. That’s why he had levelled it up. Teesside was going brilliantly. Apart from the reports that said there were financial concerns. He finished off by lying about freeports.
Next. Alex from London. Why was the NHS falling apart? Sunak wiped away an imaginary tear. He came from an NHS family, which was why he was determined never to use the NHS again.
The doctors were all a bunch of greedy bastards who didn’t know a good deal when they were offered it. The Tories had given the NHS record funding. Though they do seem to have gone quiet on the imaginary 40 new hospitals they had promised to build.
Keith from Edinburgh wanted to know what was happening with social care. So too did Rishi. He suggested it was a problem for local government. Nothing to do with him. On to Linda from Middleton. Why was he so adamant about Rwanda? Everyone knew it wasn’t going to work.
Now Rish! got all down with the people. Keepin’ it real for GB News. He started dropping his consonants and introducing glottal stops into his sentences. “Stoppin’ the li-ull boats.” Rishi. The Millionaire of the People. The authen-ic voice of yoof. It was sad. Pathetic even. Tryin desperately to fi’ in.
Then he had nothing to say. Other than Rwanda would be a deterrent. He didn’t seem to grasp the difference between sending Albanians to Albania and Afghan refugees to Rwanda. He even tried to blame Labour for stopping him. This is a man who takes no responsibility for his own legislation failing to comply with international law.
There was a brief interruption from John who was furious about the Covid vaccine compensation scheme. “Look me in the eye, Rishi Sunak,” he barked. If it was all the same, Rish! would rather not. He’s not a man who handles confrontation well.
Jake from York wondered what Sunak could offer disillusioned Tory voters like him to stop him voting Reform. It was at this point we realised that the undecided voters were not primarily those torn between Tory and Labour. This was a GB News audience after all.
Robin wanted to know what the Conservatives could offer people who were LGBT. Rish! looked horrified. Why should he offer them anything? He was fed up with being inclusive. Hell, what was the country coming to these days. You couldn’t even make a trans joke in front of the mother of a murdered trans teenager without the Labour thought police being on your case.
Housebuilding was on the mind of 19-year-old Josh from Shrewsbury. There was nowhere to live. Rish! flicked the switch marked empathy. He felt Josh’s pain. He wanted Josh to be able to buy a house like he had. All it would take was for Josh to make his first million as a hedge fund manager for Goldman Sachs betting against sterling. That was the patriotic thing to do. Josh looked understandably deflated. He got the message. He was never going to have his own home.
And that was just about it. An hour that had passed quite quickly. If totally pointlessly. Because we hadn’t learned any more about Rish! than we already knew. That he’s just not very good at this sort of thing. He can’t connect with people. He lives in a parallel world to the rest of us.
Whatever the questions, he gives the same boilerplate answers. He doesn’t believe what he’s saying, so why should we? He’s merely going through the motions. Someone should have a word. For his sanity as well as ours. It’s going to be a long eight months. Not all of us are going to get out of it alive.