-By Austen Akhagbeme:
Following the lightspeed demise of the calamitous seven weeks tenure of Liz Truss, Rishi Sunak, the popular chancellor of the Exchequer, steps in as the first British Prime Minister of colour and the youngest in 200 years.
At 42 and with a rich pedigree of performance and popularity laced with an elite educational background common with most previous predecessors, every lover of British politics knew that Rishi Sunak was ripe for the plum job, especially in the midst of a dwindling economy as the UK’s.
Liz Truss sure had a battle of her life following her tax-cutting announcements; especially the 45p income tax rate cut that was hurriedly dropped but not after the economy had gone south with a lot of financial crises to grapple with. The Economist magazine nailed the coffin of criticisms when she compared Liz Truss with the “Shelf-Life of a lettuce”, meaning that her tenure will be brief. And so it was.
It is against this backdrop that Rishi Sunak, the Oxford University-trained politician came calling. His name was not new; he was an integral part of the “battle” that produced Liz Truss a few weeks ago. Even when Boris Johnson had to scamper out of his vacation in the Dominican Republic to join the race, those who wanted a real change within the conservative party preferred the Briton of Indian descent.
Coming from Asian ethnic groups that make up the second-largest ethnic group in the UK, with about 7.5 percent of the total population and over a million Britons of Indian descent, one may not be wrong to assert that Rishi Sunak’s ascent to the premiership of the United Kingdom, is a triumph of the acceptance of ethnic diversity in British politics and this is remarkable.
But this is not to say that this history was made on a platter of gold. Before now, there have always been highly successful British politicians of colour like the former home secretaries, Priti Patel and Suella Braverman. Rishi Sunak only seems to have walked through the ladder of political leadership at a pretty good time for someone that joined public service in 2015.
Unlike Nigeria, nobody questioned his Hindu religious background, his Indian ancestry or his relatively youthful age. Rishi Sunak is a Briton, born in Southampton, good enough for the UK at such a time as this. He’s rich, tested, intelligent, young and savvy.
While we’re still recycling our old predatory elite class, other nations are gunning for competence and verifiable altruism. There must be something for us to learn from Rishi Sunak and the system that produced him. May his tenure never have a short shelf life.
- Austen Akhagbeme is a Columnist with Blank NEWS Online