For one brief moment it seemed like the UK is ready to elect their own person of colour as the Leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister.
Rishi Sunnak, born of Indian parents and until lately the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Minister of Finance) at one time was a front runner for the job.
But as the race progressed and the number of contestants dwindled, it finally came to a straight duel between Sunnak and Elizabeth (Liz) Truss, the Foreign Secretary. In terms of policy, the difference between them is six and half a dozen.
Neither of them belongs to the hard Right Wing of the party, although they drew support from both wings. On the critical question of when to put money in people’s pockets, Liz Truss promised to cut taxes right away while Sunnak, with an ex-Chancellor’s prior knowledge of the state of economy, said he would wait to achieve a measure of recovery that can sustain a tax cut.
What did the contest come down to? Rishi Sunnak had occupied a coveted position in government, living next door at Number 11 Downing Street to the Prime Minister at Number 10. In the House of Commons, he sits beside Boris Johnson the Prime Minister. And the Chancellor of the Exchequer is easily the most senior Cabinet Minister next to the Prime Minister.
So, what tilted the leadership against Sunnak? Well one can conjecture that Boris Johnson, though he was forced out of office, has sympathisers among the 1,600 Conservatives who elect the Leader. They and Johnson hold Sunnak responsible for being the first senior Cabinet Minister to resign and opened the floodgate of resignations that put the death knell on Boris Johnson’s leadership.
The final and perhaps more important consideration is the difference between Truss and Sunnak. It is RACE. For while Blacks and Asians have been given Cabinet positions in the recent past, few could claim to have climbed as high as Rishi Sunnak. In the normal order of events, a Chancellor would succeed the Prime Minister.
So, if not now, when? Lizz Truss takes over in the middle of crises of cost of living, of fuel for vehicles and the home, and industrial unrest. I suppose Mr. Sunnak and the rest of the UK are watching.
Sunak is also white. Indeed, like Truss, he belongs to the Indo-European branch of the Caucasian race. The important differences are ethnic origin and religion. Sunak is Indian and Hindu. But that he lost is not necessarily evidence of racial and religious bias. That he came close despite his status as a minority is more remarkable. No Christian or European would come that close in India, or for that matter Pakistan (from where the parents of the Mayor of London came to the UK). Indeed, the evidence is more indicative of racial tolerance and harmony than racial bias.