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Mainstream, VOL 60 No 52, December 17, 2022

Good Strikes, Bad Strikes and Double Standards of British Prime Minister | Bhabani Shankar Nayak

Friday 16 December 2022

by Bhabani Shankar Nayak *

Rishi Sunak’s electoral victory within the Conservative Party and his entry into the 10 Downing Street as the PM of United Kingdom is celebrated across the political and ideological isles as a case for post racial Britain. It is a historic moment in the political and national life of Britain. The politically correct under-carpet racists celebrated it as a sign of diversity and political empowerment of British ethnic minorities. There is no doubt that the rise of Rishi Sunak’s leadership shows progress in terms of representative character of democratic diversity. The narrow electoral representation of upper echelons of privileged British higher class diminishes the empowering character of diversity by incorporative people of colour within political conservative ideology. However, it has given Tories some breathing space to shed their old racism to sell modern Britain and hide its colonial past and racist present.

As per the reports of the Office of National Statistics (2020), the ethnic pay gap in London is 23.8%. The British capital reflects the worst but the ethnic pay gap between white and non-white workers exist across all regions in the country. It reflects continuity of everyday racism which is institutionalised in every step of life in Britain. The structural racism reproduces itself with political patronage. It reflects political, social, cultural and legal failures in establishing racial equality in the country. The ruling elites of Britain managed to keep the ugly head of racism Rishi Sunak represents the ruling and non-ruling elites of modern Britain. He neither presents people of colour nor represents interests of working people in the country.

Rishi Sunak’s foreign policy upholds the spirit of old and imperial Britain. Like his predecessors, he follows the footprints of American imperialism. There is no difference between Tony Blaire and Rishi Sunak as far as their approach to war and workers are concerned. Sunak supports supply of weapons to Ukraine for peace and defends expansion of war mongering NATO at the cost of lives and livelihoods of people in Ukraine, Russia and across the world.

Rishi Sunak’s ideological, political and legal positions on worker’s right to fight for their wages and well-being shows his double standards in public life and disdain for deepening of democracy. Rishi Sunak supports Chinese workers right to strike but opposes British worker’s right to strike. Workers struggles are not only for wages but also for the deepening of citizenship rights and decentralisation of democracy. The Conservatives in Britain under the leadership of Rishi Sunak does not believe in the ideals of workers’ struggle. The Tory politics believes in depoliticised and domesticated workers who work without questioning the legitimacy of illegitimate power of conservative crony capitalists, who run Britain today.

The divesting of funding from deprived areas to invest in rich boroughs define the class character and class location of Rishi Sunak. It fits the bill of the crony capitalists of the Conservative party donors who squeeze public money and weaken the welfare state and democracy. His policies on health, education, regional developments and employment are not concomitant with the everyday requirements of the underrepresented communities and working-class people in the country. His policies are benefiting the crony capitalists in and outside Britain.

Political symbolism matters and meaningful when it is embedded with emancipatory ideals and policies. The essentialist character of electoral democracy and its representative leadership illustrates dominance of privilege over politics of emancipation. Rishi Sunak represents such a trend in British politics that lacks any form of emancipatory project for the racial minorities nor for the white working classes. It is time to expose the double standards of the Tories under the leadership of Sunak, who represents a kind of elite politics and legitimises policies that are detrimental to the masses. Sunak also represents false sense of empowerment of racial minorities in Britain when massive wage gap exists between white and non-white workers.

(Author: Bhabani Shankar Nayak is associated with University of Glasgow, UK)

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