Is Rishi too rich? Is Sir Keir not Labour enough? Time to kick things off…

How the excellent political cartoonist Morten Morland sees it in The Times

Are you looking forward to the big match?

Sorry, this is not a reference to football. Nothing much is known about that round here. No, we’re addressing (somewhat reluctantly) the general election, due sometime or other.

We will also talk money and politics, and money and money, and the distasteful ledger known as the Sunday Times Rich List.

There is a lot of politics around now, with shin-kicking from both main ‘teams’ designed to lift a supporter’s heart or flood that organ with dismay.

The weirdest side-tackle from Labour has been to accept into the party the right-wing Tory MP Natalie Elphicke. This unfortunate hello fits with Sir Keir Starmer’s wish to show Labour is a broad church – but churches have doors, and Starmer should have shut her out.

I understand the logic: show that your party can attract people from across the political spectrum, and you widen your appeal. But still. There should be limits. Especially for an avid Brexit-head, who has often attacked Labour’s “softness on immigration” and laid into trade unions.

Last July, Elphicke wrote an article for that reliably potty government press release known as the Daily Express under the headline: “Lefties aren’t defending migrants, they’re defending a multi-billion pound criminal empire.”

And now she’s joined those ‘lefties’, some of whom are less than impressed.

Ms Elphicke followed her husband Charlie into being the MP for Dover after he was jailed for two years in 2020 for sexually assaulting two women.

Last weekend, Ms Elphicke was accused by Sir Robert Buckland, the then justice secretary, of “asking him to help move the date of the case, apparently to avoid publicity” (BBC website, May 12).

Hilariously, Buckland only remembered this after she became a Labour MP, having seemingly sat on the story for four years.

Plenty of Labour supporters see the arrival of Elphicke as a last-straw moment. I can see their point but will still vote Labour. We need shot of this tawdry Tory government, and voting Labour is the best route to that hopeful end.

And sulking because Starmer isn’t Jeremy Corbyn, as some disaffected Labour voters do, gets you nowhere.

On to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, that privileged princeling none of us can remember ordering. He becomes increasingly ridiculous by the minute, using all those clips featuring primary school graphics and marker pens to illustrate how fortunate we are to have him.

And then there was his “the end is nigh” speech from May 13. Sunak delivered this tinpot party-political tirade at the right-wing think tank Policy Exchange. Short version: we live in dangerous times and only Rishi can save us.

As the author Edwin Hayward pointed out on Twitter/X, two versions of this speech were released afterwards. One contained all the words as spoken at the politically biased think tank. The second, put out on the government website, had all the party political bits redacted. There was also a photo of Sunak outside Downing Street – not where he gave his speech.

Dodgier than a dodgy person in a dodgem.

Now money and the Sunday Times Rich List. One finding this year is that Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty, have climbed 30 places (from 275th to 245th) and increased their worth by £120m in just 12 months.

The Conservative commentator Henry Hill says people don’t care how rich politicians are. Well, they should. And being that rich divorces politicians from the ordinary lives they control. Also, they should care that the Sunaks are £120m better off after a year of him being prime minister – especially as Murty’s wealth is tied to her father’s digital services company Infosys, which has been winning government contracts.

According to the government’s official teller of possible porkies, everything here is above board.

There is, though, a more telling entry in the Rich List.

This is the Essex businessman Graham King who won government contracts worth £3.5m a day for transporting and accommodating asylum seekers.

Dirty work that no-one should do – and it’s made him one of the 350 richest people in the UK.

King, who is 56, is reckoned to have piled up a £750m fortune partly from housing asylum seekers for the government. In the neoliberal world Thatcher and Reagan lumbered us with, there are fortunes to be made off the backs of the least fortune people in the world.

How disgraceful.

Incidentally, the reliably mad business secretary Kemi Badenoch has taken to the pages of the Daily Mail to tout the latest Brexit benefit. This is to bring ‘pavement dining’ to the British high street – thanks to the removal of EU red tape.

As, yes, Europe – where cafes and bars never spill onto the street (some mistake here, as they say in Private Eye). There is even a continental expression for open air eating – ‘alfresco’. More appealing than ‘pavement dining’, which sounds rather unhygienic to me.

Another mysterious Brexit benefit.

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