From mayoral elections to Rwanda removals, Sunak won’t let the truth jeopardise his mission | Stewart Lee

In the psychedelic 60s stop-frame animation children’s television series Trumpton, all the characters have identifying proper names – the fireman Captain Flack, the state stormtrooper Police Constable Potter, and the mysterious dungeon-dwelling economist Gideon Pencils Osborne. The mayor of Trumpton, however, was known only as The Mayor, and neither his actual name nor his political affiliations were ever revealed, though he smelt of pubs and Wormwood Scrubs and too many rightwing meetings.

All over the land last week, Tory mayors dreamed of similar anonymity, hoping that if no one knew anything about them, and their campaign literature didn’t reveal they belonged to the Tory party, people might at least vote for them by accident, thinking they were someone else. “Oh! Andy Street was the West Midlands’ Tory mayor candidate? I thought I was voting for the glamorous, and now deceased, Welsh wrestler Adrian Street. I liked it when he pulled out Jimmy Savile’s hair in 1971.”

At the time of filing this week’s so-called “funny” column, I don’t know the results of Thursday’s mayoral elections, but the Tory campaign was a chilling indication of the depths to which the cornered, cowardly and corrupt Conservative party will sink in the endlessly deferred general election. Expect a tsunami of unsubstantiated claims in viral-video hit pieces, designed to cause a maximum impact to the Overton window in the time between their unannounced appearance and their sudden disappearance due to legal considerations.

Last week, the Observer and Greenpeace revealed that, just as dark money secretly pays for fake grassroots groups such as Restore Trust to discredit the National Trust for unstated reasons, so Conservative party workers have set up dozens of fake community Facebook groups. These then weaponise anti-Ulez sentiment against Sadiq Khan anonymously, and provide a platform for antisemitic and Islamophobic content and fantasies about the incumbent London mayor’s assassination. Carelessly, the Conservative London mayoral candidate, Susan Hall, has somehow managed to join six of them, one after another, like a hapless clown stepping on a succession of garden rakes and then wondering why its teeth are all smashed.

Perhaps Hall enjoyed the post about Khan that asked why “dark forces” can’t “take out this money-grabbing little parasite” in the same way they did Diana, Princess of Wales. (It’s a foolish hope anyway, to be honest, as to do so would require Khan to be in a relationship with Dodi Fayed, while appearing to be pursued at fatally high speed by French paparazzi through a Parisian road tunnel. This would be a stretch, even for the secret black ops teams of the deep state, given that Fayed is now deceased.)

In Wednesday’s PMQs, Catherine West, the Labour MP for the woke seat of Hornsey and Wood Green, asked Sunak directly about his party’s complicity in the dangerous astroturfed Facebook groups his own workers had secretly set up. Meanwhile, the Tory benches looked like the Pogles doing a rehearsed reading of the bunker scene in Downfall. West made specific reference to Hall’s membership of the hate groups, and of their platforming of users’ death fantasies about Sadiq Khan.

“Will he close down these Facebooks which have been begun by Conservative members of staff… begun by Conservative members of staff,” West said, repeating her key point over the usual Tory braying and honking, “and will he investigate the role of the current candidate, and her membership of those disgraceful racist sites?” It was a simple question, surely. But it was one that Sunak pretended not to have understood, instead answering a different question that no one had asked, outside the echoing cave of lies, cash-register kerchings, and Jilly Cooper-audiobook sex scenes that plays on an endless loop through Sony Walkman speakers inside his miniature head.

“Mr Speaker, the election tomorrow will be fought on the substance of the issues that Londoners face,” the prime minister dissembled, never acknowledging any aspects of West’s question. Meanwhile, the baffling Penny Mordaunt sat behind him, laughing along with his gilded evasions like something horrifying that predicts your death from inside a glass funfair box.

How can Sunak live with himself? If he believes elections can be won on the issues themselves, why is his party, which renamed one of their main social media accounts Factcheckuk to spread lies during the 2019 election debates, putting so much time and effort into disinformation, and into concealing the fact that it is Conservative staff spreading it? Like Hal 9000, Sunak’s mission is too important to allow truth to jeopardise it.

Just as Schrödinger’s Rwanda is both perfectly safe for migrants and a terrifying deterrent to them, so Schrödinger’s Sunak believes that only facts matter, while at the same overseeing the deliberate dissemination of disinformation. Is Sunak one of the worst men on Earth? Does he have a soul? Does he have a heart? Does he have shame? Or is he just a husk in Adidas Samba trainers, a goblin with a swimming pool, an egg that is unambiguously bad?

skip past newsletter promotion

And is Sunak, to use a phrase coined by contributors to the Facebook group his party set up, “a money-grabbing parasite” whose government’s filtering of millions of public cash into his own family’s Infosys company, and whose cautious relationship with tax, make Khan’s Ulez hits on motorists for clean air initiatives look like change found down the back of the family sofa Boris Johnson courted that pole dancer on, before her business was awarded £126,000 of our money. Ah! I already feel nostalgic for the days when the figures filtered by Tories from the public purse still numbered in the low hundred-thousands.

But who will save us from orchestrated Tory lies in the election campaign? The powerless news castrati at Robbie Gibb’s captured BBC? The unregulated far-right grifters and moonlighting MPs at the inexplicably Ofcom-excused GB News? The Tory propagandists at the Telegraph and the Mail? Carol Vorderman, it’s going to have to be you, isn’t it?


This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.