Isabel Hardman

    Sunak’s Peloton Toryism

    Sunak's Peloton Toryism
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    Rishi Sunak is well-known for being a fan of swanky fitness company Peloton, so perhaps it was fitting that the introductory video for the Chancellor's speech at the Tory conference felt rather like a spinning class. Parts of his address to the packed (albeit small) hall bore more than a passing resemblance to the spinning classes too, with Sunak opening by saying he'd do 'whatever it takes' to protect people's livelihoods, and later telling the class, sorry, hall, that 'just at the moment when it feels like we've done enough, that we've gotten through, that we can take a rest, we must not stop'.

    Many of Peloton's instructors have developed loyal fans and followings. Sunak has that too but was keen to develop it further within the Tory party. This was, as he said early on, his first chance to 'meet you all properly' — he was clearly keen to advance brand Rishi a little further during the speech. 

    He told the conference about his core beliefs — the dangers of 'mindless ideology', fiscal responsibility, work being the best route out of poverty — and about his political grounding when working in California. He mentioned California twice, describing the culture he found among tech companies as 'a mindset which was unafraid to challenge itself, reward hard work and was open to all those with the talent to achieve'. His conservatism isn't the same as Boris Johnson's boosterism, but it has the same desire to seem upbeat and excited about technology.

    He tried to tackle the Labour attack line that the Tories don't care about struggles with the cost of living, particularly given the end of the £20-a-week Universal Credit uplift. He talked about a young family with hardworking parents, asking: 'Now you tell me, is the answer to their hopes and dreams just to increase their benefits?' Awkwardly for Sunak, though, many of his colleagues think that benefits aren't sufficiently generous at the moment. It's not just Labour.

    He also tickled the tummies of those watching by talking about his incredibly principled and unpopular decision to back Brexit. 'I remember over five years ago being told that if I backed Brexit, my political career would be over before it had even begun. Well, I put my principles first and I always will.' To be fair to Sunak, it was quite daring back in 2016 to back Brexit. But given the Prime Minister is the man who led the Leave campaign, it's fair to say that the gamble quite obviously worked out for the now-Chancellor, whose speech today showed he's not planning to stop any time soon either.