Perhaps I should stress from the get-go that I do not know Rishi Sunak. So far as I know, we’ve only met once, some years ago when he was working at the think-tank Policy Exchange. He showed me to my seat when I arrived late for an event. It is one of those things you must get used to in this life – that the person you last saw helping you into a folding chair will just a few years later be Chancellor of the Exchequer.
When I first noticed this tendency, a wise older friend cautioned me against feeling concern about it. Best to accept it as part of life’s great dance. In fact, my friend stressed, you shouldn’t even worry about it when some of the dimmest people you’ve met (not that Sunak fits that bill) arrive into the great offices of state. The only thing that should alarm you is if a boy you remember from school as a cheat ends up as your surgeon. My friend swore blind that this happened to him. A boy he had last seen at prep school copying maths answers off his cuff was next seen peering over him with hearty ‘hail fellow well met’ greetings as he wheeled him into the operating theatre. So a sense of perspective is required here, as always.
Yet I only mention my non-relationship with Sunak because Westminster is an incestuous place and I feel it incumbent upon me to stress that what I am about to say comes with no private agenda. So here it is: I feel sorry for Rishi Sunak over the way he has been treated in recent days.
Politics is not a pleasant thing to go into in Britain. Most likely it never was, but in the current era it seems especially so.