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Are Brits ready for mansplaining Rishi?

26 July 2022

8:25 PM

26 July 2022

8:25 PM

After manspreading Boris, is the UK ready for mansplaining Rishi? At last night’s BBC leadership debate, during which the Chancellor appeared for large sections unable to stop himself leaping ungallantly down Liz Truss’ throat whenever she tried to speak, it seemed this is what we will get if the Tory membership decides he’s their man.

Mansplaining might be a ridiculous term – what’s the harm in us sharing our wisdom from time to time, ladies? – but it’s also true that men who do it the way Sunak did last night, at all times wearing a maximally passive-aggressive grin, come across as berks.
Does being a berk rule you out of holding high office? Precedent suggests very much not, but that hasn’t stopped Team Truss from attempting to seize the moral high-ground. Following the debate an anonymous staffer for the Foreign Secretary ludicrously briefed: ‘Rishi Sunak has tonight proven he is not fit for office. His aggressive mansplaining and shouty private school behaviour is desperate, unbecoming and a gift for Labour.’

Sunak knows that, in the contest with Truss, he’s the underdog to become the nation’s next leader, which presumably is why he came out swinging last night. If he’s going to change the odds, the calculation will have been that something had to give. But for those us who previously thought of him only as a fairly likeable and clever, if somewhat vertically challenged, Wykehamist, last night was an unpleasant revelation.


The debate had an intimate quality – more than a touch of the 2 a.m. marital argument in the kitchen after the guests have left, in which the sins of the past are dredged up by a husband set, like a radio, only to transmit and not receive.

Eyes flashing with righteous indignation – passion for higher taxation, perhaps – Sunak gave no indication he was interested in hearing the views of his opponent and debating them on merit. Instead he seemed to only want for Truss to understand that everything she thought about the economy in particularly, was not only profoundly wrong, but idiotic.

He might be right, of course, but the aggressive manner in which he presented his case seemed reminiscent of Sadiq Khan or David Miliband – and just as loveable. The result was the very weird sensation of sympathy for Truss. ‘Let the bloody woman speak,’ I found myself yelling at the television, not an urge I’ve previously experienced.

It’s only a theory, but I suspect the nation has had more than its fill of charmless mansplaining over the last two and a half years.

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