Rishi Sunak can be PM in a month – does that count as ‘vilifying’ Britain?

Sunak’s latest plan, to label anyone who ‘vilifies Britain’ a terrorist, exists only to be typed and spoken for a few hours (Reuters)

There is still more than a full month left of the Conservative leadership contest and we are already well into what can only be described as the monkey tennis phase.

For reasons that only they can truly understand, both candidates evidently feel they have an obligation to launch new policies every day for a full six weeks. That would be 42 whole policies, more than most governments can do in five years. The panicked decline became entirely à la Partridge.

Rishi Sunak’s latest plan – labeling anyone who “vilifies Britain” a real terrorist – would probably make sense if he was between an arm wrestling match with Chas and Dave and a sumo downtown.

Fortunately it is, like all these things, a metapolitics. It exists only to be typed and spoken for a few hours, before we move on to the next one that definitely won’t happen.

Yesterday, an almost unimaginably clever attack drone attacked a specific floor of a specific building on a specific street in Kabul and murdered the leader of al-Qaeda in an attack in which precisely zero innocent bystanders were injured in any way.

August is traditionally a silly time. This kind of massive event is the kind of thing the news industry would be very grateful for. But it seemed to barely register, because Liz Truss had released a terrible press release about the pay cuts outside of London, and then, when it was rightly seen as completely insane and outrageous, she immediately began to pretend she’d never done it.

The race for conservative leadership is expanding to fill the time gap allotted to it. None of the candidates, at this point, have anything of interest to say – if they ever did so in the first place. Both are stuck on an impossible treadmill, feeling the need to fill the relentless minute with useless press releases about things that will never happen.

How, exactly, will Rishi Sunak begin to refer people to the terrorism prevention program if they “vilify” the country? What does that even mean? Sunak is one of two people to be prime minister in just over a month and both are a complete disgrace. Does that count as defamation of Britain?

Sunak believes that criticizing government policy does not count as defamation of the country. How about booing the national anthem, like some 40,000 Liverpool fans did at Wembley a few months ago? Would calling to abolish the monarchy count as defamation of the country? Liz Truss did this a while ago when she was a Lib Dem. Fortunately she saw her paths wrong now, but she can count herself lucky. Today’s youth will not have the chance to make their “political journey” without the intervention of the anti-terror police.

Who knows what plans they have next? Who cares? If you don’t like it, well, it doesn’t matter. They have others. And they can always just cancel them and claim they were ‘misrepresented’ when they weren’t. It’s a political end of the dockside show and it’s been running for another month. An open mic night of shitty ideas where everyone gets pissed off and you pretend they were never there.

What’s more intriguing is the apparent allergy to real good ideas. On Wednesday afternoon, all 23 teams of the victorious England women’s football team released a joint statement, signed by all of them, calling for equal access to football in physical education classes at school for boys and girls. This is a request that has been made many, many times before.

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The fact that it has to be done is itself a clear indication of institutional sexism. Football is the most popular sport in the world by some margin, and it’s not just for boys. Current government policy is to ignore these requests. It would be very difficult, apparently, to make things fair.

If Sunak didn’t give in to that demand within hours, maybe he has to refer to his own terrorism program? After all, football is the national sport of this country. Women and girls make up half the population.

If he doesn’t let girls play as well as boys, isn’t he vilifying half the country? He stands in the way of millions of people who just want to express their love for their country by playing their national game. Is that certainly enough to get the people of Prevent counter-terrorism involved?

If the 24-hour news cycle ends with Rishi Sunak having accidentally declared himself a terrorist, it would still be one of the most normal days. There are 35 more of them to go.

What other terrible ideas might they have left? There is, rather tragically, only one way to find out.

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