Rishi Sunak can be forgiven for not weighing down the King’s Speech with all that much. There is not a tremendous amount of parliamentary time left, after all. But it is not a great sign for the Tories’ electoral prospects if it represented the radical vision of change that they hope will take them forward to polling day.
Political parties cannot win elections unless they explain what they can do. Boris won because he was going to break the Brexit deadlock and make politics go away. Theresa May didn’t because she couldn’t articulate why she’d called the election and what she wanted to do if she won. George Osborne’s long-term economic plan – ie, we’re going to make you richer – was enough for David Cameron to get over the line in 2015. Where is Rishi’s vision? His promise to the country?
We still, genuinely, believe he has one. It’s of a tech-enabled, entrepreneurial Britain. But it is the articulation that has so far failed him: rather than tout the stable jobs that could deliver across the country, he last week said we needed to make the country more comfortable with the idea of not receiving a regular paycheque. It’s a valid point but it doesn’t necessarily scream economic security to a country desperately looking for it.
Keir Starmer’s vision of Britain is also a little… hazy. We broadly understand that he’d like things to work better, which is admirable, but it’s not obvious how he’d do that or to what end. For now, his imagined basic competence is enough to put him more than twenty points ahead in the polls.
Whither the City in all this? In truth, nowhere to be seen. Old-fashioned ideologies of a shareholder democracy have been parked for culture wars and gentle, fuzzy words like ‘fairness’. It will be on the Square Mile’s various ambassadors to government to make the case for the economy’s golden goose – which may not be killed, but may nonetheless suffer from malnutrition if paid inadequate attention.