Society

The Westminster Cheat Sheet: The Stack World’s A-Z of Politics

The revolving door of Westminster has been a hard one to keep up with over the last 12 months, here we break down what’s happened and what could be on the horizon

By Marie Le Conte

22 January 2023

You’d be forgiven for having tuned out of political news altogether, or only kept half an eye on Westminster just to make sure the country had not collapsed. If you would like some bite-sized insights on what Rishi Sunak, Keir Starmer and the rest have been up to, The Stack World has put together a handy cheat sheet:

A

usterity...

...Is making a comeback. Following the reversal of September 2022’s botched mi- ni-budget, new chancellor Jeremy Hunt has announced that “di cult decisions” would be coming, and we all know that is a polite way of saying “spending cuts”.

B

raverman, Suella

Was home secretary for a bit then no longer home secretary then home secretary again. May no longer be home secretary, again, by the time you read this. Was found to have forwarded sen- sitive information from her person- al email, which is less than ideal for a secretary of state. Really, really doesn’t like immigration.

C

OP 27

Rishi Sunak originally did not want to attend the climate summit, which played badly with just about everyone, so in the end he went and gave a speech. He told the crowd in Egypt that “Putin’s abhorrent war in Ukraine, and rising energy prices across the world are not a reason to go slow on climate change. They are a reason to act faster”.

D

iversity

A real swings and roundabouts scenar- io, this new government. On the one hand, the prime minister, foreign secre- tary and home secretary - three of the most senior jobs in the UK - are people of colour. On the other, only 22 per cent of ministers attending cabinet are wom- en, which is a distinct step backwards.

E

conomy, the

She’s not thriving! The Bank of England warned earlier throughout 2022 that Britain could be about to experience its longest recession since the 1930’s, meaning that things will not get better for several more years.

F

ather-in-law

Rishi Sunak’s, to be precise. NR Naray- ana Murthy is the billionaire found- er of Indian IT services company In- fosys, a company his daughter has a 0.91 per cent stake in. Though Infosys announced last year that it was pulling out from Russia, it is still operating from Moscow. It may not be fair to blame a man for the actions of his partner’s father but expect some stories about him to keep rumbling on.

G

eneral election

The Labour party wants one. The Lib- eral Democrats want one. The Scottish National party wants one. You probably want one. The Conservatives are actual- ly happy where they are right now, thank you very much, and there isn’t much anyone else can do about that. Sorry.

H

unt, Jeremy

Life comes at you fast, doesn’t it? Over the summer his leadership bid failed miserably and it looked like it was all over for his career - and he’s now chancellor of the exchequer. A for- mer health and culture secretary, he is broadly seen as a safe(r) pair of hands, and closer to the centre of the party than his predecessor.

I

ndependence, Scottish

Probably something to keep an eye on. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon is hellbent on holding IndyRef 2 in 2023, and isn’t afraid to try and rock the boat to make it happen. It is still unlikely it will take place, but expect some chaos over the border this year.

J

ohnson, Boris

The man who will simply not leave us alone. The former PM decided to turn upatCop27-howkindofhim-totell the world not to go “wobbly” on net zero which, in fairness to him, is a good point. Still, not immediately clear why hehadtobetheonetomakeit.

K

angaroo genitals

Ifyouwanttogetasenseofhowfunit must be to be a Conservative MP right now, please consider the fact that for- mer health secretary Matt Hancock chose the I’m A Celebrity jungle over Westminster. Eat up, Matt.

L

abour party

Unless something dramatic happens soon, your next government. Sir Keir Starmer KC has long been criticised for being a bit dull and uninspiring, but considering the chaos of the past few years, that may be no bad thing.

M

acron, Emmanuel

Liz Truss controversially refused to say whether the French president was a friend or a foe but, with Sunak at the helm, it looks like Manu is back in Britain’s good books. The two leaders met in Egypt and seemingly got along very well.

N

HS

Doing about as well as the econo- my. Waiting times in A&Es across the country have reached unprecedented levels and nurses are talking about- strikes, at the time of writing, for the rst time in modern history. It’ll be a tough and worrying winter.

O

pinion polls

As a shrewd Twitter user put it, the Truss premiership was, for the Tories, the political equivalent of standing out- side for a while to make your house feel warmer. Or, to put it simply: is the gov- ernment doing better now than a few months ago? Yes! Does that mean it’s ac- tually doing well? God no.

P

olicies

Not exactly forthcoming from either side of the chamber at the moment. Would be quite nice to know what both parties have in store for us, wouldn’t it?

Q

uestions, Prime Minister’s

The weekly exchange is giving some clues on the attack lines Sunak’s Tories will be using against Starmer’s Labour. So far: a lot on the opposition leader’s one-time support for Jeremy Corbyn, and his status as a north London Remain voter. Yawn.

R

eeves, Rachel

Labour’s shadow chancellor and woman to watch. Studied at the London School of Economics and worked as an econo- mist at the Bank of England, so knows what she’s talking about, which is, let’s be honest, not always a given these days.

S

unak, Rishi

You know the one. Britain’s rst ever Hindu prime minister and, at 42, one of its youngest in modern times. Apart from that, quite a standard Conservative prime minister: did PPE at Oxford, worked in the City for a while, campaigned for Brexit in 2016, yadda yadda.

T

axes

Were going to go up when Sunak was chancellor and Boris prime minister then were going to go down when Liz Truss was prime minister and Kwa- si Kwarteng was chancellor and now Sunak is prime minister and Jeremy Hunt chancellor and taxes are going to go up again. Oh, the fun we’re having.

U

nions

If you enjoyed our summer’s endless rail and tube strikes and a festive peri- od of the Royal Mail on the other side of the picket line you are going to love 2023. Teachers, nurses, essentially eve- ryone who has not received a pay rise in real terms in heaven knows how long: all their unions are balloting right now. Things are going to get worse before they get better.

V

otes

Can Rishi Sunak unite the parliamen- tary Conservative party after six years of chaos? He’s certainly giving it a good go, but he’s going to need all the luck he can get. Tory MPs are divided and there is still a lot of bad blood oating around; whatever the government ends up doing policy-wise in 2023, it should ex- pect some opposition from its own side.

X

anax

Do consider sending some to any loved ones you may have who work in or around politics. Alternatively, send them to me directly. Thanks in advance.

Y

ears, two

The time we have left until the next general election if Rishi Sunak wants to leave it until the last minute. If a week is a long time in politics, it seems fair to say that January 2025’s Brit- ain may well be an entirely di erent country from the one we live in now. Fingers crossed.

Z

elenskyy, Volodymyr

Boris Johnson’s emotional support embattled wartime leader. No doubt Sunak will also y o to Kyiv when Westminster gets a bit much for him.

The Short Stack

The revolving door of Westminster has been a hard one to keep up with over the last 12 months, here we break down what’s happened and what could be on the horizon

By Marie Le Conte

More from Society