It is not everyday that you witness history from a ringside seat!Last Thursday, I was on a Zoom call for councillors with a Cabinet Minister ( whom I am not going to name!) The Minister was assuring us that the Prime Minister was not going to resign and would soldier on and eventually “turn things around”. During the meeting, the Minister received a message that they should come to 10 Downing Street immediately! An hour or so later ( just after the Minister arrived at Downing Street) the PM announced that she was resigning! Four days later, Rishi Sunak was declared Leader of the Conservative Party and the next day, was appointed Prime Minister by HM King Charles. I have to admit that I voted for Liz Truss in the Summer election. I even “got the T – Shirt”! You could get them free at hustings.
However, I now accept that she made mistakes. I still believe that her policies were basically correct but she failed to “prepare the ground” sufficiently . There was a time- not so long ago- when a Budget remained confidential till it was presented to Parliament. Indeed Chancellors have resigned for “leaking” information in advance- most recently Hugh Dalton in 1947. However, today the markets abhor uncertainty or surprises! There is an old saying in the field of Marketing- “sell the sozzle- not the sausage “! Liz Truss’ problem was the sozzle – not the sausage. She also attempted to do too much too quickly. She also failed to appoint a broad Cabinet. There is another old saying-“keep your friends close- but your enemies closer “!
I now feel Rishi will make a good PM. He saw the country through COVID . He brought in the Furlough scheme – as well as other schemes for businesses and self employed people- in double quick time. He is calm under pressure and his “hand on the tiller” is clearly reassuring to the markets.
There have been some who have been critical of Rishi. They point to the the fact that he is a multi millionaire – having married into a mega wealthy family. However there is an interesting halocho concerning the preferred characteristics of a Baal Tefilla on the Yamim Noraim. The Mishna Berura ( Siman 681) brings down a custom that a Baal Tefilla should be a communal leader. One might have thought a poor man would have been preferable. After all, he has much to daven for. He understands what poverty is. He will daven from the bottom of his heart. Tears will flow from his eyes. However, a communal leader who is involved in running charities and communal organisations and who gives tzedoko himself knows the feelings of MANY poor people. Whereas the poor man only thinks of himself. ( The same would apply to a Rebbe or Rov who dispenses blessings and advice. Even a politician might qualify in this regard! Thus Rishi is uniquely suited to being PM.
I wish him every success.Finally, using my yarmulke as a rabbi rather than a councillor, Hashem is ultimately in charge!