Have you seen our prime minister’s latest puff piece, celebrating his first year in office? No? Then, boy are you in for a treat!
At (thankfully) just 46 seconds long, it is a run-through of everything that “we’ve achieved” in the year since Rishi Sunak became PM. The list of so-called achievements scrolls past so fast as to be practically unreadable. Which is, perhaps, the point.
In the first 24 hours after posting on X, Sunak’s video collected almost four million views. Surprisingly, it also recorded almost three million likes. What was less surprising was the responses. Having scrolled through all of them (so you don’t have to), I only found one short message of support. The ridicule, however, was widespread.
Caroline Lucas drew attention to Sunak’s many failures on climate change, described by Sunak as a “new approach to net zero”. Others criticised Sunak for “gaslighting”, cried “shame on you”, called him a “clown”, or much worse, while others drew attention to his many failures or simply scoffed at his ridiculous claims.
Sunak’s so-called achievements
Amongst Sunak’s claims were a list of things the government have banned (XL bully dogs, nitrous oxide, strikes in school, protest), plus a list of spurious claims, such as record levels of NHS funding, falling crime and a million new homes. Funny but, despite extensive research, I can only find reference to a Sunak commitment, made in July, to build one million homes before the end of this parliament. Surely, had that goal been achieved, we’d have heard a lot about it, and no doubt had a special PM video celebrating the fact.
Many of Sunak’s so-called achievements haven’t even happened yet. His “long term decisions for a brighter future” included a “long-term NHS workforce plan”, “expanding childcare” and a “smoke free generation”. I’m not sure exactly how long Sunak thinks the Conservatives are going to remain in power, but it certainly isn’t long-term. His own stay in power might be even shorter, now his Conservative colleagues are free to submit letters of no confidence to the 1922 committee.
The five priorities
When Sunak spoke of his five priorities in his New Year’s speech, he called on the British public to “trust” him. He claimed his five pledges would “deliver peace of mind — five foundations, on which to build a better future for our children and grandchildren”. Not only that, he was going to be “straining every sinew” in order to achieve his goals.
The first of those pledges – halving inflation – was expected to happen anyway over the following 12 months, with or without any government actions. As for the other four pledges, Sunak and his government seem to have made matters worse, rather than better.
The second and third pledges – growing the economy and reducing debt – are not going to plan. While there has been some recent improvement in the UK economy, the IMF are still predicting just 0.5% growth in 2023 – the second worst in the G7. As for reducing debt, the level of UK debt has actually risen to the highest levels in 60 years, and in June passed 100% of GDP for the first time since 1961.
Sunak’s fourth pledge – cutting waiting lists – for the NHS, has proved to be another epic failure. Just this month, the waiting list in England alone hit a record high of 7.75 million people awaiting treatment (as at the end of August). With further strikes likely in the medical sector thanks to the government’s intransigence on pay, this is only likely to get worse.
The final pledge – stopping the boats – has also failed miserably, with record numbers of desperate migrants risking their lives to cross the Channel. According to Migration Watch UK, the Home Office is expecting the numbers for 2023 to reach 30,000 by the end of the year. And all as a direct consequence of Brexit and this government’s policies.
In his video, the prime minister admits that “there’s so much more to do”. Whether he, or his government, are given the opportunity to do more good, or harm, seems increasingly unlikely. The video ends with the question “so what can a country achieve in 52 weeks?” and ends with the words “watch this space”. Well, we’ve been watching, and it seems that the only thing Sunak can celebrate after a year in office is outlasting his predecessor. I doubt there are many, except the delusional few, that honestly believe we can expect anything more from this PM, or this government. They’ve had 13 years, and the evidence of their damage is everywhere you look. But don’t expect to see that in any videos.