Express & Star

'Karma has bit Rishi Sunak on the backside' – Andy Richardson on the Tory's disastrous election campaign

It was all going so well.


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Rishi Sunak had stolen the initiative back during the General Election by lying during a TV debate.

He’d used a dodgy, contested figure – claiming Labour were going to raise taxes by a sum that had as much to do with reality as a unicorn offering £350 million to the NHS if we all vote to visit the Sunlit Uplands of Brexit.

For a moment, it seemed plausible, like all the best untruths.

Because, as Mark Twain once allegedly wrote, a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting its shoes on. And Rishi Sunak telling an audience of millions that Labour had a secret plan to hike taxes sound like it might be true – until it turned out that a bunch of Tory election experts had concocted the figure and it was the proverbial election smear.

It's not going well for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

Still, it did its job. In a dirty election, Rishi had found a way to turn the tide – however dark, however unethical, however untrue.

And then karma bit him on the backside. His lack of political nous came back to haunt him as he abandoned the people who’d fought for our freedom, exiting from a D-Day Ceremony to record an interview with ITV. Nice one, Rishi. Thanks for showing your true colours.

As own goals go, it was right up there with Gordon Brown’s angry response to Gillian Duffy, then 65, whom he called a ‘bigoted woman’, after she’d tackled him about the party’s immigration policies.

It was as cowardly as Boris Johnson hiding in a fridge rather than facing questions from Good Morning Britain. It was as lame as Theresa May invoking a dementia tax as she bottled her 2017 snap election, as idiotic as Neil Kinnock taking victory for granted in 1992, as absurd as John Prescott punching a man with a mullet in 2001.

And that’s been the story of Rishi Sunak’s election.

The guy whose team organised a press conference near to the Titanic, who was photographed beneath exit signs on an aeroplane, whose team didn’t equip him with an umbrella when he announced his election, and who showed his peculiar relationship with the truth when he lambasted Labour’s non-existent plans took a double-barrelled shotgun to blast holes in his own feet.

The fall-out came thick and fast. Penny Mourdant, the woman who likes to shout at political opponents and is eyeing Rishi’s job in a few weeks, told the nation how wrong he’d been.

Rishi cancelled planned press opportunities the following day as journalists’ access was restricted, lest they ask him why he was a self-service, incompetent, empathy-free zone.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer on the General Election campaign trail

And Sir Keir Starmer did what Sir Keir Starmer does best – let the Tory Party self-sabotage. Why bother trying to kill the arguments of the ruling party when it’s perfectly capable of doing that itself?

Sir Keir has changed the Labour Party beyond recognition.

It used to be left of centre, now it’s the Tory Party in a delightful shade of red. And as we move to a week in which manifestos will be launched and scrutiny will fall on figures that don’t need Rishi’s dodgy interpretation, the Tories are starting to look like toast.

They’ve made no gains, they’ve gifted Reform the votes they needed to rely on by disrespecting our War veterans, Rishi’s made himself look like a guy with the strangest of relationships with the truth, while the squabbling among the ranks has grown ever livelier.

When Rishi called the election, it seemed just possible that he might at least make it a close run thing. As the days tick by, such hopes seem ever more remote.

That’s not because of any remarkable performance from Labour – that’s became of the abject incompetence of a multi-millionaire leader whose skills have been found wanting.

There’ll be more photocalls, more debates, and more opportunities for Labour and Tory politicians to talk over each other on increasingly-tedious and undignified debates.

But it looks as though Rishi’s race is already run. The veterans gave so much and sacrificed all. Rishi couldn’t be bothered to sacrifice an afternoon. His party looks like toast.