Rishi Sunak gambles as he walks towards blizzard of criticism
In spite of his mild-mannered appearance, Rishi Sunak’s announcement was an excoriating attack on the Conservative governments that came before his.
During the prime minister’s presentation on green policies, Boris Johnson’s ideas and instincts were shredded; painted as shallow and unthinking.
Sunak stood in the news conference room at No 9 Downing Street with a new slogan in a new font – I know, I know, it’s niche.
It read, “Long-term decisions for a brighter future” – expect to see that prominently displayed next week at the Conservative party conference in Manchester.
A blunt, direct, and pragmatic announcement, Sunak’s announcement also illustrated his willingness to embrace controversy to deliver what he believes to be a hard-headed necessity.
In contrast to cowering from the blizzard of criticism, he walked towards it – an unlikely alliance that included Ford and the National Trust.
Clearly, No. 10 hadn’t planned for their ideas to be leaked, as they were to the BBC, and were pretty narked about it.
However, they were expected to disagree about the substance of what they were saying.
A wider political strategy is being developed here.
This autumn, the prime minister will deliver more speeches on broader themes; expect a more aggressive tone.
In light of these green themes, he and his advisers hope that, beyond those with megaphones and PR departments condemning him today, some might quietly conclude he has a point and that he has a reasonable approach.
Whenever a major political party launches a new policy or changes direction, observing how their opponents react is always instructive.
Beyond the predictable Conservative criticism, Labour’s response to this was cautious. It was not immediately clear if all of the changes made by the Conservatives would be reversed.