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This week in Tortoise – Downfall: twenty days that did for Rishi Sunak

This week in Tortoise – Downfall: twenty days that did for Rishi Sunak

Is it possible to report politics differently? Does slow news help us see things more clearly? We’d like to think so. 

Matt d’Ancona’s audio essays – Sick Man, Halloween, Retreat from Kabul – have each returned to a moment in time and helped us to understand what really happened.

This week, he revisits the implosion of the chancellor – twenty days from Spring Statement to the first Partygate fines that proved to be the undoing not of Boris Johnson, but his up-and-coming rival: Rishi Sunak. 

The reputational self-harm, the political failure of his economic policy within his own Conservative party and the ill-disguised schadenfreude in Number 10 at the Icarus-like fall of the young contender at Number 11 are all captured in just one of the extraordinary comments made to Matt by a Downing Street source: “The closer we looked into it, the more it became clear that Mr Perfect had well and truly shat the bed. A lot of us couldn’t quite believe that someone as careful about his image as Sunak had made such a 101 error.” This week’s Slow Newscast is Downfall: twenty days that did for Rishi Sunak.

Then, on Thursday, we launch the Slow Politics podcast – Lara Spirit and Matt d’Ancona take the time to understand one story that’s got lost, one person that pulls the strings but goes unseen, one issue that matters but gets forgotten. 

We hope that, after Fiona Hill shared her thoughts on Putin, Ukraine and Trump in last week’s episode of The Backstory, you then made the most of being a Tortoise member and caught Andrew Neil reflecting on their conversation in the bonus Inside the Interview episode. It’s seriously good. Tomorrow, in episode three, Andrew talks to the hawkish US foreign policy expert and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution Robert Kagan.

Our ThinkIns:

On Thursday, it’s our annual Climate Summit. With the support of our Accelerating Net Zero Coalition and, we hope, you, we’ll be tackling climate justice. We want to believe that a fairer energy transition will, in fact, be faster. Is that true or wishful thinking? Please take a look at the agenda here – as you’ll see, we are interested in understanding the climate emergency more deeply and coming away with a clear sense of what needs to happen next. All sessions are online. 

The last ThinkIn at the Climate Summit is: should we stop flying? It’s online and in person in our newsroom too at 6.30pm. Do join us

If you’re a Friend of Tortoise, then I hope you’re coming to one or both of the events we’re putting on for you this week. 

If you’re not already a Friend of Tortoise, then please do upgrade your membership – it really supports our journalism and, we hope, gives you more ways to enjoy what we’re doing, engage with the people we’re meeting and weigh in on what we’re thinking at Tortoise. 

Have a very good week.


James Harding
Editor & co-founder