It was an old song that said, "You've either got or you haven't got style!" It featured in a very enjoyable routine from the Hollywood film, "Robin And The Seven Hoods," in which the great combination of Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr, satirised the Robin Hood legend, money, power, corruption, gangsters. Having, "the knack," for something, is a little, I think, like style. You've either got or you haven't got it. It was evident very swiftly, after Boris Johnson resigned as UK Prime Minister, a man who certainly didn't visually have style, but once politically had "the knack," that as an individual person Liz Truss might have some degree of style, as a Prime Minister Liz Truss, certainly didn't have "the knack!" A Prime Minister who came and went within just a bit more than a month, despite having obvious ambition and determination, was widely criticised as having only "the knack," for ineptitude!
The same cannot be said of her new successor, Rishi Sunak. A taste for simple but expensive clothes, as one might indeed expect from one of the richest politicians ever to lead anywhere, worn to look smart or casual, qualifies as style. An ability to be in the right place at the right time, and make something of himself, qualifies as "the knack!" Politically and personally, his becoming the Prime Minister of the UK, is something interesting and noteworthy. More than anything, is the fact that he is the first person of colour to hold that office. The country that colonised India, has a Prime Minister whose two parents were both in fact born there. First generation British, and leader of his country, is an achievement. Whatever can be said of or against the Conservative Party, in the modern era, a charge of racism against them, cannot be made convincingly at all, as my previous article on a related subject made clear and apparent.
Rishi Sunak was appointed, as thus far, then, a not very well known junior Minister, during the immediate crisis of the Covid pandemic, to become the Chancellor Of The Exchequer, and, in this role as chief finance Minister thus made the most of his opportunity.
There are several criticisms that can be levelled at him during this period. Generous government support given by him and his Department, was unfortunately matched by a degree of waste and fraud, not his, but by the few recipients of Government largesse, powerful and corrupt enough to abuse the system, as yet mostly unknown, or unfound, certainly not prosecuted. An "eat out to help out," scheme that gave individuals fifteen pounds to have a meal in a restaurant, to encourage and aid a hospitality industry that a pandemic had hurt badly, turned into a much mocked joke to some, though it was not funny, as it further spread the virus! Questions about his eating cake at a Birthday party organised in the Cabinet room, and a subsequent fine from the police, because it broke the very Covid lockdown rules of his own government's devising, were regarded as not too damaging because it was not his fault. Similarly, the discovery that this multi millionaire former city entrepeneur, married to the business woman daughter, Akshanta Murthy, of one of the richest billionaires in India, N.R. Narayana Murthy, had financial if not legal issues and question marks to address and answer. His wife had registered for financial purposes as Non dom status beneficiary, meaning, she did not have to pay tax on her international earnings, including nearly one per cent of her father's Indian based business, to the UK Exchequer, her own husband was the Chief Minister of! But this is not the purpose of this piece. He also brought in a furlough scheme that helped milions, individuals and businesses, stay home and stay in business. And while the UK were not a successs economically afterwards, very quickly, under his watch certainly more than survived, if not having yet to be said to have thrived.
During the leadership election he lost to Truss he made an impact only a fraction as much as he needed to to win, which he didn't do. Neither shall I dwell on that. For something herein says Sunak has that special something this piece is making a point about.
Despite the mistakes or missteps, Sunaks was and is the only person his party called on to lead, after the victor, Truss, in the leadership race he lost, became the vanquished resigning Prime Minister only weeks later. Charisma, he has, less than some, more than others. Ability, for sure, with a similar description ot caveat added. But the extra something is "the knack." Maybe its a knack for survival. Perhaps it is a friendly face. Or a winning smile that allows a comeback after losing first. If quoting an old song about style, from a re-working of Robin Hood, doesn't quite get to the point about a very unlikely Robin Hood, very unlikely indeed to "rob the rich to feed the poor," although he has indeed raised taxes on the rich, unlike his predecessor, maybe this idea of him having "the knack," does. An old film got to the nub of it. It was made at the same sort of time as the film alluded to. It was called, "The Knack And How To Get It!" However he got it, Sunak, got it. He might not keep it though. For though Truss clearly never had it, to lose, Sunak does have it and could lose it. It is not, as the Verdi Aria sang out, " la Donna e Mobile, " Woman is fickle," but people, and especially, in politics. All eyes watch as polls give a lead to the Opposition Sunak must overtake and overturn, and opinions he cannot afford to take forgranted as he seeks to turn a page.