Rishi Sunak Will Not Solve The Race Problem
It is a compelling case about why just representation doesn’t solve the problem of racism or discrimination against ethnic minorities, particularly when Sunak’s past reeks of upper-class values.
First of all, keeping aside the reservations I have against the conservatives and Rishi Sunak, it will be a historic moment in Britain’s democratic history if a person of colour becomes the next PM — and the signs are mostly clear. The Conservative Party members are actively supporting Sunak’s campaign which is largely based on his parents’ immigration history and woe to bring back UK’s economy back on track; mostly effected by his party’s involvement in Brexit.
There was a time in the Conservative Party when only two lawmakers belonged to the ethnic minority groups out of 198. But they have revamped their hierarchy since the last decade — doesn’t necessarily mean their ideology — by having a considerable minority representation in their cabinet, which is by no means an accident.
Brownie points? Yeah.
But Sunak’s often tone-deaf comments on economy and his past won’t go very well with the liberals and the Labour party supporters. In one of the resurfaced clips from a BBC documentary released in 2001, Sunak behaved like wine-drinking elites who are very prevalent in India’s upper-class circles saying — he doesn't have any working-class friends (while smirking). His immigrant past, which has become his campaign’s main points, doesn't come out very well when there is an evident class conflict.
His recent comments on seeking out ‘anti-national’ elements once his tenure starts reminds me of a very similar narrative. Rings a bell? Undoubtedly, Rishi Sunak is one of the favourites in the right-wing sphere of the UK because he is adhering to one of the prime aspects of conservatism: toxic and hyper-nationalism.
However, the flip side of the rise of Sunak has created a political dichotomy amongst the Labour party and its supporters: when one of the changes that the X is fighting for is brought by their political rivals Y, albeit leaning towards their ideological bent. Labour’s fight has been for an ethnical-inclusive Britain, and now with some of Conservative Party’s top leadership positions are held by ministers belonging to the minority groups, that cause is lost and won — politically. But Sunak is also making Labour’s case easy by hinting at his nationalist policies for the future.
While the Tories have played their cards with diligence, it still won't solve the race problem that exists in the UK (relatively very less in comparison to the USA). The PM shall not function adhering to the ideas that form much of his party’s history. Sunak’s rise can certainly not be placed under the category of tokenism, but a person of colour shall also be working towards the betterment of the people of colour — which evidently is not the case with Sunak. Place a Dom Perignon Rose Gold in a plastic cup from a shimmering glass and it will taste the same. It won't lose its texture or the aroma, just the packaging is now working-class, so to say.
Sunak might end up doing more damage, rather than bettering, to the years of struggle by the BAME community in the UK. Or the conservatives can finally move on from their extreme views and soft racism against people of colour. Could go either way, but only time will tell.