Rishi Sunak jokes about people complimenting his ‘tan’ in opening for Tory ...
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As the Tory leadership contest rumbles on (and on) throughout the summer, the two politicians battling for the keys to Number 10, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, faced each other in the first members hustings in Leeds.

The two leaders took questions from LBC's Nick Ferrari and an audience of some 1,000 members of the party at the city’s Centenary Pavilion in separate interviews.

They both covered a range of pressing subjects from the ongoing war in Ukraine to the economy and even found time to engage in some culture war nonsense.

One of the two will become the next prime minister when the Tories toddle off to the ballot boxes on 5th September. The rest of the country doesn't have much say and the fairness of that is a discussion for another day.

A question for today, then, is out of the two, who leaves us less likely to tear out our eyeballs and scream into the abyss if they are elected leader?

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So here's how Rishi and Truss got on:

Sunak

"They saved and sacrificed to provide a brilliant education for their three children" 4/10

In his opening message, Sunak praised his parents for saving to send him to public school Winchester College before saying the best way Tories can help Britain is through education.

What his parents did is up to them and education is one of the best way to help people become upwardly mobile - if that's your thing - but how about improving the state sector so people don't have to pay thousands and thousands of pounds to send their children to elite institutions where they are shielded from the hoi polloi?

"We need to grip inflation because it is the enemy that makes everyone poorer" 6/10

It must be his favourite line and certainly his key message because Sunak has said it in just about every leadership debate during the last few weeks.

We think we unanimously agree that inflation is really biting and the cost of living crisis is something everyone is worrying about. So we agree with his point.

But note his distancing language. Inflation is the "enemy," not government decisions that have arguably led to it. Yes he wants to "grip" it now, but why has he let it get to this stage when he was chancellor for over two years?

"My experience means I'm the best person to lead the economy into that future" 2/10

Your experience has shown you are a person who has already led our economy, and it isn't going gangbusters is it?

"This is not about what shoes I wear or what suit I'm wearing this is about what I'm going to do for the country" 6/10

Sunak was quizzed on his lavish lifestyle. He's a very wealthy man indeed and some people have suggested he is the wrong person to lead the country for that reason, claiming it means he will not be able to connect with ordinary working people.

Of course there is no such thing as an ordinary person and everyone lives in their own bubbles to some extent, influenced by their work, family, culture, geography - the list goes on.

So Sunak had a point and handled the awkward question with grace but there's a bit out of touch and then there's Rishi Sunak and if you need us to expand further, just look at all the times he really struggled to be a man of the people.

"We should move away from the very expansive ECHR definition" 2/10

Speaking about asylum, Sunak claimed the current system allows people with "spurious" reasons to come to the UK.

"We must have control of our borders," he added and we aren't pleased about this policy at all.

"I'm the most Northern chancellor this party's had for something like 70 odd years" 1/10

This is one of the most odd things we've heard in 70 odd years, as Sunak defended his record in investing in the North of England. Here's why:


Truss

"I'd abolish the top-down Soviet housing targets that we have across our country," 1/10

Next we have Truss who started things off on an odd note. Everyone cross off "Soviet" on your populist bingo cards, please!

Keir Starmer "is a patronising plastic patriot" 4/10

Truss came out fighting and stuck the boot in to the Labour leader. It was an otherwise dignified debate and Sunak resorted to no such mudslinging about his opposition leader. Some points for punchy alliteration, though. Someone's made some good hires in her communications team...

"I've always been a fan of Boris Johnson" 1/10

That makes one of you...

"It's wrong to renege on a manifesto commitment" 7/10

Truss was speaking about the National Insurance hikes. We're not sure what the best plan of action is but at least she's principled.

"I was completely horrified" 0/10

In a very random segment of the interview, Truss was asked about her experiences watching Love Island and she revealed she wasn't a fan, only managing to get through 10 minutes of the show.

This might have been her most divisive statement yet, and given it is watched by so many people in the country, reveals her to be utterly out of touch!

"Not every country in the world has the same standards as the United Kingdom" 2/10

Questioned over whether Britain should boycott the World Cup, hosted by Qatar, over the country's human rights record, Truss disagreed and said we need to be "practical and pragmatic". If we only did business with countries with the same standards as the UK, she said, we wouldn't be doing business with many.

Hmm.

"I was a teenage controversialist" 3/10

Truss was quizzed on her support for abolishing the monarchy when she was a member of the Liberal Democrats in her youth. She fobbed it off and blamed it on her youth but we'd now say she's a middle-ages controversialist, but has just chosen new controversial policies to support.

"We've still got a lot of economically inactive people who are not taking the opportunities of work" 1/10

What's that, you cry. Why it is the sound of victim-blaming rhetoric from the noughties about "workshy benefits scroungers".

Ah, how nostalgic...

Verdict

While we didn't agree with the bulk of his policies, Sunak came across as competent and on top of the detail of his plans. He answered tough questions on his previous policies like furlough and Eat Out To Help Out well, and when he engaged with the audience he managed to connect to them, while just about avoiding looking like a smarmy Tony Blair tribute act.

Just about.

Meanwhile, Truss opted to strike populist chords at every turn, declaring that "a woman is a woman" apropos of nothing and reviving tired stereotypes about people who claim benefits.

It was like someone had got a ouija board and summoned Margaret Thatcher...

Nevertheless, she had some charm to her and managed to crack a few jokes. She's come a long way from "pork markets"...

So who won? We reckon we'd rather let Sunak hang about in Downing Street. If we have to.

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