Saturday 13 April 2024

Was it an apology or not?


It’s probably inevitable that anyone taking on the job of PM will end up making a number of decisions which will lead to demands for him or her to apologise. There’s no reason why Sunak should be any different. I’m not particularly a fan of demanding apologies from politicians – I’d much prefer that they got things right or, at worst, did what they could to put things right and avoid repeating the mistakes. But assuming that we want him to apologise for something, all of us will probably have our own views as to which is the most important apology to make. In Sunak’s case, my own first choice would be the ill-fated ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme during the pandemic. Launched after deliberately not seeking any expert advice on the probable consequences, there is little doubt amongst the experts that it led to a significant increase in cases, which probably led to hundreds of premature deaths. A reckless and avoidable decision which led to premature deaths, taken without even seeking expert advice; that, surely, is something for which an apology is the least that might be expected. It is, though, something which he continues to defend.

There is one thing for which he has apologised. His choice of trainers has apparently caused the bottom to fall out of the market for a particular brand, which is no longer considered ‘cool’ as a result of being worn by Sunak. It’s more than possible that he sees damaging the profitability of a large company as being a bigger sin than overseeing a few hundred early deaths; it was, after all, his concern for the financial impact of the pandemic rather than the wellbeing of the populace which led to the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme. But in saying that his apology was ‘fulsome’ it’s also possible that it wasn’t really intended as a genuine apology at all. The word has a variety of connotations, and for many, a ‘fulsome apology’ is actually an insincere one. Insincerity in a PM – who’d have thought it?

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