Always Worth Saying’s Leaders’ Debate Review

Always Worth Saying, Going Postal
Sunak and Starmer.
Commons Procession to Lords,
Houses of the Oireachtas
Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

The French have a phrase for it. Don’t they always? Ce pays ici. As a literal translation, ‘this country of ours’. By idiom, a courtier’s name for the Versailles bubble of pre-revolutionary France. Lord Clark previously explained to Puffins that one stage of human organisation is when the gentleman of the township have enough liquid capital and spare time ‘to organise the things that must be made to work’. Sewage is kept out of rivers. Every household benefits from sufficient affordable energy. Prices are stable. Trains at least run, if not always on time.

While strolling across a cobbled courtyard in Episode X of his excellent 1969 ‘Civilisation’ series, Clark informed of another, lesser, societal level at which a feudalist elite and their courtiers profit from the masses while hiding from them. In the Britain of 2024, as a tourist map of an impressive but meandering Continental palace might state, ‘You are here’.

As the first leaders’ debate of the campaign begins, the courtiers are over-excited. The masses are watching Love Island. Messers Starmer, Sunak and Etchinham face each other across a fake media bubble Hall of Mirrors within a tiny and embattled London political principality.

Meanwhile, locked out of the assembly, Farage Robespierre issues every Brexiteer with a pike and prepares to storm … Clacton-on-Sea. Interesting times.


Unless you watched this programme, you have no idea how bad it was. Ending in a draw, neither-of-them and Nigel Farage shared first place, with the awful Prime Minister and dismal Leader of the Opposition tieing for a distant last. Live from Salford, the omni-party leaders were even wearing the same dark blue suits. Julie Etchingham, preferring a pink trouser suit, invited each of them to make brief opening statements.

Keir Starmer read from a teleprompter. He noted a choice between chaos and division or turning a page and rebuilding with Labour. Mr Sunak mentioned Mr Starmer’s lack of a plan.

Paula from Huddersfield asked the first question. She has worked since she was 15 but was finding it hard to make ends meet. Those of you who watched will already know she has no difficulty finding her knife, fork and spoon. Her bills have doubled. She is concerned about the cost of living.

Billionaire Rishi understood and was acting. He had spent and spent and spent during the pandemic. Taxes have been cut. A bold, clear plan would eventually find its way to Huddersfield.

Kier was very sorry for Paula. It’s really, really, really difficult because Liz Truss crashed the economy, and the people of Huddersfield are paying the price. Turn a page, Paula, and rebuild under Labour.

If the plan is working, wondered Starmer, why call an election? Maybe because energy prices and inflation are going to rise? You keep on telling me to call an election, responded Rishi. Wages are growing, and taxes are being cut. Labour will charge you £2,000 more in tax.

Kier Starmer: Tax has gone up 26 times under the Tories. The highest taxes for 70 years.

Rishi Sunak: It’s not about the past but about the future. We’ll keep cutting them. A £2,000 tax rise is in Labour’s DNA!

Julie Etchingham: Paula spends her weekends batch cooking so she doesn’t have to turn the oven on through the week. How do you connect with Paula?

With a furlough, replied the Prime Minister. Every day of the week people come up Mr Sunack and tell him the furlough saved their family.

Always Worth Saying, Going Postal
Rishi Sunak.
Rishi Sunak records a public information film,
HM Treasury
Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

Just for once, Starmer mentioned his dad worked in a factory and his mum was a nurse. The Starmer’s phone had been cut off, presumably because everybody was sick of listening to Kier pretending to be working class.

Sensitive about his petty-burgeois Surrey upbringing, Kier Starmer describes his father as a working-class factory worker, despite being an independent tool maker and proprietor of the Oxted Tool Company. His mother, Josephine (nee Baker), was a nurse who suffered from Stills disease, a debilitating form of arteritis.

Keir spent his childhood in the Surrey commuter town, where he attended St Joseph’s Primary School and nearby Reigate Grammar. Turning private during his time there, the state paid his fees. An accomplished scholar and decent sportsman, after school Keir attended Leeds University, where he earned a First in law.

A further year at St Edmund’s, Oxford, saw the award of a Bachelor of Civil Law. Contemporaries included David Cameron, Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, Ed Balls and a PPE student from Corpus Christi College named David Miliband whom Starmer befriended.

Starmer moved to London after Oxford and for a year edited a Trotskyist magazine produced by Socialist Alternatives, the British section of the International Revolutionary Marxist Tendency.

Julie was struggling. The two of them talked over her – and each other. She started calling them ‘gentlemen.’

Question two was about health and social care. Janet from Telford was even bigger than Paula. A cancer survivor, her son is a nurse. A cousin had died recently while on a waiting list. How long will it take to fix the NHS?

Starmer sympathised. The NHS is in his DNA. His mother was a nurse, don’t you know, and his wife works in a hospital.

Sunak trumped him. My dad was a GP, and my mother was a pharmacist. Evenings at home were spent talking about the patients. Is that what he meant? Record funding is in place. The NHS is still recovering from covid.

KS: No, waiting lists are going up.

RS: No, they’re coming down.

KS: Since when?

RS: Since they were higher.

Then the Prime Minister (rightly) blamed the strikes. Starmer is going to resolve the strikes and provide two million more appointments. Fifteen years ago, under Labour, waiting lists were lower.

RS: Doctors want a 35% pay rise and I don’t want to raise your taxes.

KS: I’m not going to give them 35%, but …

RS: Then how would u resolve it?

KS: Liz Truss crashed the economy.


One of the Hampshire Sunaks, Rishi is the son of a GP and a pharmacist. After attending prep school and £43,936 per annum Winchester College, Mr Sunak took a First in PPE at Lincoln College, Oxford, before moving to the global investment bank Goldman Sachs.

Later, he became a partner in The Children’s Investment hedge fund (TCI). Owned by a holding company in the Cayman Islands, during Mr Sukak’s partnership TCI was not a donor to the original charitable Children’s Investment Fund Foundation but was a purely for-profit organisation.

Mr Sunak undertook further studies at San Fransisco’s Stanford University, gaining an MBA as a Fulbright scholar. There he met his future wife, Akshata Murthy, daughter of N R N Murthy, a Bangalore billionaire and founder of IT multinational Infosys. Leaving TCI in 2009, the 44-year-old took a partnership in California’s Thelmore hedge fund.

Julie struggled again, ‘Gentlemen!’

Two teachers moaned via email.

The politicians talked over each other.


Julie Etchingham wanted to hear about tax. Puffins want to hear about Julie Etchingham. Tonight’s luckless host hails from Leicester and attended a local Roman Catholic school (an aunt was a founder member of the Union of Catholic Mothers) before graduating in English from Newnham College, Cambridge. A London media bubble lifer, Ms Etchingham is a BBC graduate trainee who cut her teeth on Newsround, Midlands Today and The Holiday Programme before moving to Sky and ITV.

Always Worth Saying, Going Postal
Julie Etchingham.
Julie Etchingham at the Embassy Talk Series,
German Embassy, London
Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

As a young woman, Julie made the headlines when the Leicester Daily Mercury announced, between hot news of vandalised goalposts and a punched cyclist, Miss Etichingham had ‘brushed up on more than her languages on a recent school trip to Germany.’ (Behave yourselves!)

Julie’s oil painting, ‘View From the Hotel Window’, daubed while on a week-long visit to St Toarshausen in the Rhineland, had won third prize in a competition. Not to be sniffed at, the prize money was £250 for her school and £25 for herself.

It being more innocent times, when newspapers were allowed to publish the addresses of schoolgirls, Puffins can see the pleasant middle-class home of tonight’s leaders’ debate anchor (a daughter of two teachers) by clicking here.

Back with the tax, Sunak warned of a retirement tax as Labour tax thresholds would not keep up with old age pension rises. Starmer was going to tax public schools, energy companies and non-doms. Speaking of which, when Mr Sunak was Boris Johnson’s Chancellor, Mrs Sunak was revealed as being non-domiciled for tax purposes while living grace and favour in Number 11 Downing Street.

‘Gentlemen, PLEASE!’

After the adverts, Ms Etchingham received the loudest round of applause of the evening after starting the second half of the programme by telling the pair of them not to talk over each other.

Steven from Warrington asked about immigration. Both said it was too high and pretended to want to lower it. Starmer has invented a new force of nature called a ‘border force’ that stops unstoppable objects before they leave France – somehow. Sunak will send them to Rwanda.

Omar from Manchester was worried about British leadership on the world stage, specifically regarding Gaza. Starmer thought the situation in Gaza to be catastrophic and in need of a ceasefire straight away.

Sunak would raise defence spending to 2.5% and noted both that Starmer wouldn’t and that his deputy (Crooked) Angela Rayner is opposed to the nuclear deterrent.

Starmer monologued about fighting terrorism when Director of Public Prosecutions. This is disingenuous. When editing for Socialist Alternatives, the extreme left-wing views that Starmer and others expressed included praise for Mikhail Gorbachev’s soon-to-collapse Soviet Union and admiration of the Philippine terrorist organisation the New Peoples Army.

After leaving the editorial collective, Starmer was called to the bar in 1987 and joined the Middle Temple Chambers of Rumpole of the Bailey author John Mortimer. While there he represented Liberty — once called the National Council of Civil Liberties — which only a few years earlier advocated for the Paedophile Information Exchange.

In 1990, Kier was one of the joint founders of ‘traditional chambers mould breakers’, Doughty Street. Puffins will recall Doughty advised Yorkshire County Cricket Club race card troublemaker Azeem Rafiq. Specialising in human rights, Starmer’s plethora of liberal causes included challenging new anti-social behaviour orders placed on ‘children from hell’ and defending poll-tax rioters.

By 2002, Starmer had become a Queen’s Council and joined a new generation of leftie QCs referred to as the ‘Duke of York group’ after their Grey’s Inn Road watering hole.

Always Worth Saying, Going Postal
Keir Starmer.
Keir Starmer speaking in 2020,
Licence CC BY-SA 4.0

While a QC, Starmer remained soft on terrorism and acted for Islamic cleric Abu Qatada. Following Gulf War II, Starmer was part of a human rights ‘glitterati’ suing the government over ‘mistreated’ Iraqis. Starmer was also an advisor to Iraq ambulance chaser Phil Shiner – who was later struck off.

Despite never having prosecuted a criminal case, in 2008 Lady Patricia Scotland, the Attorney General to New Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown, appointed Keir as Director of Public Prosecutions and head of the Crown Prosecution Service.

More controversies followed, including Starmer apologising on behalf of the CPS for not prosecuting Jimmy Savile and a Rochade child rape gang which included senior local Labour Party members such as ring leader Shabir ‘Daddy’ Ahmed.

Stephen from West Sussex sent in a question about ‘convicted criminal Donald Trump’. No, just no.

A psychotic carbonphobic loon called Clare from South London asked about ‘climate catastrophe’. As I type, it is a well below average for June nighttime 7C.

Sunak mentioned the cost of switching to an electric car, plus thousands on a heat pump and £10,000 to convert your home. If Labour wins, start saving up. What he didn’t mention is that the Tory policy is the same, albeit with a deadline of 2035 rather than 2030.

Tinged Miles from Ilford had a long list of complaints about our country and wanted to know what we could offer his generation. A one-way ticket back to where you came from, son.

Keir Starmer is going to build them millions of houses. At which point Julie said, you’re both homeowners but the young are living with their parents until their late thirties.

Speaking of which, the Sunaks are wealthy beyond avarice and own properties all over the world. Their primary residence is at the Waverley apartments on Santa Monica’s Ocean Drive, a beachside paradise at the northern end of the Los Angeles urban sprawl, close to both Beverley Hills and the exclusive star-studied Brentwood residential subdivision.

Although the tabloids claim Mr Sunak’s $5,000,000 apartment faces the ocean, in reality it faces a hotel on the rather fanciful Appian Way – a generic row of apartments and rentals. Next door to the Waverley sits 1776 Main Street, the headquarters of the globalist research organisation RAND Corporation. You can have a look around here.

Incidentally, if tinged Miles left Ilford and came to live in the North, he could buy a house amongst his fellow tinged with his credit card.

The final question fell flat and was mangled by a struggling Julie Etchingham. Gareth from Germany asks (a reference to Wokegate and the Wendyball Euros which kick off in Hannover a week on Friday), what’s the best leadership approach?

Let’s just say that on tonight’s showing, if this was a game of Garethball, Sunak and Starmer would be two useless penalty missers, promoted beyond their ability for all the wrong reasons, and Farage would be a grizzled old pro standing in front of an open goal.

© Always Worth Saying 2024