Tuesday, July 27, 2021
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Kevin, we need to talk about inconsistency

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RISHI Sunak is planning some domestic improvements. At  the Grade II listed property in North Yorkshire which is his constituency home, our well-heeled chancellor is seeking permission to add an indoor swimming pool and private tennis court.

Typical Tory – flaunting his ill-gotten gains from investment banking and thumbing his nose at the downtrodden masses. Why can’t the sybaritic scoundrel be like ordinary folk and make do with a lean-to extension or attic conversion?

Though he did not put it in quite those terms, the rancorous response from Kevin Maguire, associate editor of the Mirror and the paper’s chief class warrior, was similarly full of immature indignation.

Provided Rishi and his independently wealthy wife pay for the work themselves, it is nobody else’s business; the Sunak family can backstroke and volley to their hearts’ content. But laden with an enormous chip on his shoulder, carping Kevin complains that for the affluent chancellor ‘austerity doesn’t start at home’.

No doubt Maguire is himself worth a few quid; certainly, the Richmond Park residence – once described by Guido Fawkes as a ‘mansion’ – which he shares with fellow writer Emma Burstall is several strata above Kev’s modest upbringing in South Shields. Congratulations to moneyed Maguire for being a shining example of upward mobility; unfortunately, he continues to be Dave Spart made flesh, and until recently used every TV appearance from home to display his ‘I still hate Thatcher’ mug.

Lately the empty vessel – that’s the drinking mug, not Maguire – has not been seen on screen. One hopes that Kevin’s regular on-air adversary, the Mail’s Andrew Pierce, finally smashed the damn thing.

That public proclamation of everlasting enmity – his bête noire left office over 30 years ago, for heaven’s sake – is emblematic of Maguire’s infantile Leftism. As a panellist on Thursday’s edition of Jeremy Vine on 5, the topic of Rishi Sunak’s domestic opulence prompted more of querulous Kev’s sloganeering shtick.

After snidely reminding viewers that Sunak owns several plush properties – how dare he be able to afford them! – Maguire disparaged the chancellor by calling him the b-word: ‘He’s a multi-millionaire because he’s a banker.’ To follow that non sequitur, he rebuked Rishi for having ‘married an heiress’ – another no-no, seemingly – and because ‘he could probably plug the national debt with his loose cash’.

What, you might ask, do Rishi’s riches have to do with his ability to run the UK economy?

‘The reason it matters . . . and makes me slightly sick,’ groaned queasy Kev, ‘is because he is Chancellor of the Exchequer who opposed feeding kids during the hungry holidays. He’s threatening to take away twenty quid a week universal credit from five million families. He’s kept statutory sick pay down at about the lowest in Europe, including for people who have to self-isolate . . . He is about to impose austerity . . . That’s why it sticks in the throat of a lot of people.’

At the end of the clip below, Maguire descends even closer to self-parody by employing cartoonish characterisation: ‘Don’t get me started on him cutting international aid . . . as he swims up and down his 20-metre pool and plays tennis nicely, stopping to have his Pimm’s and strawberries.’

It was inevitable that the lockdown-loving Left, thrilled by the massive expansion of state dependency since March 2020, would squeal whenever Rishi Sunak tried to halt the handouts which began as temporary emergency support. ‘He is straining at the leash to start cutting,’ moans Maguire.

If only. Ever eager to demonise so-called Tory toffs, covetous Kev fumes that fiscal prudence is even less acceptable when applied by a chancellor who privately is minted. The incoherent corollary of which is that the greater Rishi Sunak’s personal wealth, the more improvident he should be with the public finances.

‘I like people to do well,’ claims Kevin, ‘but I like people who do well to be generous to others.’ In this case, the South Shields sourpuss bewilderingly wants Rishi Sunak to be more profligate with taxpayers’ money, but not to boost the local economy by shelling out his own.

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Gary Oliver
Gary Oliver is an accountant who lives in East Lothian.

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