Late great childrens’ TV presenter Brian Cant communicated superbly with young viewers to entertain and educate them but he never ever spoke down to them or elucidated superiority. More than one generation of adults remain grateful to him for what they learnt and enjoyed when very young.
Current Tory Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is a very poor communicator. At £45,936 p.a. Winchester School he was taught to perceive the public as beneath him, his peers and the wealthy. It was inculcated in him that people exist to be exploited, that the wealthiest must continuously and rabidly acquire more wealth at everyone else’s expense. He was taught that he should communicate with the public outside of truth and facts, full of invention and misdirection, and speak down to them.
On 3rd January (2023), in the midst of extreme crises at NHS hospitals, alongside Tory-supported grotesque price-gouging by food suppliers and fuel suppliers, Sunak sat on an armchair in a room at 10 Downing Street and spoke down (physically to camera) to the public to describe his arbitrary plan for all ‘A’-level students to study Mathematics. The plan is nonsense – knowledge of mathematics is useful but forcing potential university students with interest in the arts, literature or humanities to understand post-GCSE maths is not helpful – but it isn’t real: It is, blatantly, a dead cat. His intent was diversion. Dutifully, media commentators and “opposition” politicians and activists stroked the dead cat and Sunak achieved his aim.
The tone of his piece to camera was condescending. He spoke jollily. There was a deliberate air of detachment from reality. He displayed no cognizance of viewers’ likely reception of his performance.
On the following day (4th January 2023) he delivered a speech (at a lectern this time) to declare five pledges of action he said he would achieve as Prime Minister.
- Halve inflation this year (2023)
- Grow the economy
- Reduce national debt
- Reduce NHS waiting lists by March (2023)
- Remove people who arrive in UK in “small boats.”
1. Price inflation in UK is in double figures. For food it is 20-30%; for domestic fuel supply it is above 50%. It is price-gouging by suppliers who are allowed to do this because the Tory government’s role is to enhance their wealth. Halving inflation will not prevent effects of Tories’ Social Murder policy. Government proposals for salary increases for public employees are for percentage increases far below half of current inflation.
2. Sunak said he wants to “create better-paid jobs and opportunity right across the country” by “growing the economy” and the latter will be achieved by “innovation.” Aside from a few woolly comments about new technology Sunak’s plan is to “seize the opportunities of Brexit to ensure our regulatory system is agile and pro-innovation.” Libertarians are keen on “ensuring regulatory systems are agile” because it means changing rules, regulations and laws to suit exploiters. Departure from EU allows Tories to erase all gains in workers’ rights, human rights, legal rights, etc. that were enshrined in law (EU not UK) during Britain’s membership. (Charter territories organiser Shanker Singham, a regular “adviser” to recent Tory governments, explained what is desired by changes to regulatory frameworks for the benefit of exploiters. See analysis of an interview he gave to a friendly news site: Singham interview)
According to Sunak “growing the economy” means “making sure entrepreneurial and fast-growing companies get the finance they need to expand.” That is the usual conservative policy of giving public money to business owners and then pretending it benefits everyone. A different option would be to create publicly-owned “entrepreneurial and fast-growing companies” but that would be the opposite of feeding the exploiters. He claimed the handouts would create “good, well-paid jobs” which is a blatant lie because the fastest-growing businesses in UK are generally minimum wage jobs with zero career path. He knows that.
Like a well-trained Winchester alumnus he declared that “people will have to work hard” to take advantage of the promised “growth” while their employers get handouts. He complained about “inactive” people on “welfare” despite a large percentage of people receiving Universal Credit being in jobs that are so low paid that extra funding is necessary. Speaking like a patrón or overseer he talked about “pride” of working. The day after (5th January 2023) the speech Sunak said new extremist laws will stop people from striking including giving exploitative employers the right to sack workers who refuse to cross picket lines.
3. The phrase “national debt” is an invention that has no meaning whatsoever. It does not exist except as a tool to apply justification for government policy that favours the wealthiest. Sunak gave himself an excuse for enabling the collapse of public services by stating “we will make sure our national debt is falling so that we can secure the future of public services.”
4. He used the emotive objective of cutting “waiting lists” to justify “NHS using more independent capacity” meaning more money handed to privateers. When Tories say “we will always protect the founding principle of an NHS free at the point of use,” as Sunak did in his speech, it does not mean that adequate healthcare will be available via NHS. Recent Health Secretary Sajid Javid explained last year that it means patients, just after being made aware of the severity of their illness, will be “offered the right to choose” private healthcare, or die.
5. The fifth of Sunak’s pledges was a straightforward dogwhistle to try to keep the minds of some people focussed elsewhere. It was ugly xenophobia.
The rest of his speech was filled with downright lies, vacuous statements of vague intent and bizarre attempts to position himself alongside the public rather than the reality of him working directly for wealthy people and institutions that are in opposition to the public. Adopting the standard conservative tactic of using the word “family” randomly he said “I wouldn’t be where I am today without the love of my family, the kindness they gave me, the sacrifices they made for me, and the values they taught me.” His family – his wife and father-in-law – are multi-million beneficiaries of policy he enacted when Chancellor Of The Exchequer.
Sunak is an inevitable step in the evolution of conservative administration. He knows his occupation is to feed the wealthiest. His schooling instilled in him the belief in the superiority of capital. He has no concept of society or of humanity. For him, communication means manipulation and propaganda. His speech included claims of support for better education but an educated, aware and knowledgeable populace is the last thing he wants.