EYEWITNESS: Testing… British meritocracy


Whether they want to admit it or not, it’s the European empire-building projects (Spanish, Portuguese. English and their successors) that created racism “to keep us in our place”. The empires might’ve faded – and in the case of the Iberian powers that started it all, reduced to dust – but the effects linger and still keep us in thrall. From Europe to the Americas we’ve seen the backlash in xenophobic politics that manifested itself in anti-immigrant and anti-(any)coloured hysteria!! In Britain, it was the invasion of Poles and other Eastern Europeans- more than any economic concerns – that drove Brexit!!

Yet, here we are, following the resignation of Boris Johnson as PM the Conservative Party – think far-right redneck Republicans! – an Indian-origin fella by the name of Rishi Sunak is in the running to succeed him!! Shades of “The Empire strikes back”!!! But the question is – can Sunak pull a Skywalker and dent that Death Star of British racism that kept us in the mud for a century and a half?? To answer the question let’s look at this Sunak chap who’s already made history.

He was already a Chancellor of the Exchequer since 2020 – which, as keeper and controller of the British Purse – is considered the #2 man in British governments! And after only being elected as an MP in 2015, that’s what’s called a “meteoric rise”!! Born in 1980 when Margaret Thatcher was in her heyday, Sunak’s Indian-origin parents were born in England but products of the British Empire. Their parents – Sunak’s grandparents, originally from the Punjab – had ended up in Kenya, Tanginika and various other British detritus in the African continent as part of the seemingly inexhaustible fungible Indian labor pool.

They cut to Britain in the 1960’s – just ahead of Idi Amin but right into the anti-Black, anti-immigrant trauma of the infamous Enoch Powell’s “Rivers of blood” harangue – that shut down further colored immigration. But they worked their butts off, so Sunak’s parents became a Doctor and his mom a pharmacist running their neighborhood pharmacy. They, in turn, scrimped to send Sunak to one of the most prestigious (and expensive) Grammar school in England – Winchester and then on to Oxford to read for his very competitive Bachelors in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE). A Fulbright scholarship took him to Stanford in California for an MBA that got him into the top investment house Goldman Sachs!! Then onto private hedge funds for the big bucks!! But the Stanford stint also saw him getting hitched to the daughter of of the founder of Infosys – and one of the richest men in India!!

Returning to the UK in 2009 as a billionaire family set the stage for his next move.

…British race temperature

Since Sunak did experience English racism – but said less so than his grandparents and parents’, the family’s and community’s progress is a testament to hard work and grit. He plunged into Conservative politics and was given a safe Tory seat in 2015, where he backed

Theresa May’s Brexit stance. An early Boris Johnson backer after May’s ouster, Sunak was made Secretary to the Treasury by Johnson and Chancellor in 2020.

Sunak proved to be a great strategist and when Boris’ “party-gate” brought the Conservatives into disrepute, he was the first to resign – putting pressure on Johnson who soon stepped down. To select a successor the Conservatives have made their first cut from six candidates. This’ll continue until there are two standing to face the registered 600,000 Conservative party members. Sunak’s most likely opponent will be young, attractive (and blonde) Trade Minister Penny Mordaunt – runner up in the first cut.

With all of Sunak’s qualifications and experience at the top, the bookmakers favour Mordaunt. Why?

You figure!!

…the system

The question arises whether, if Sunak beats the bookies’ odds and becomes the PM, does that change anything? Or does he become a British Obama who just won’t be able to buck the “deep state”??

Your Eyewitness picks the “deep state!!