Poverty is the political football of the moment. For some strange reason, every politician is trying to claim they’ve had a harder life than all the others as if that’s some magic ingredient for good leadership.  

This silly vogue of sob stories was kickstarted by Rishi Sunak’s admission that he did go without luxuries as a child, such as not having Sky TV. Yes, seriously. 

In the interview with ITV that he left the D-Day memorial for last week, which is being aired tonight, Sunak was asked whether he had gone through hardship or experienced anything other than a life of total luxury. A fair line of questioning when the interviewee and his wife have a higher combined wealth than King Charles. 

Sunak said of course there had been sacrifices in his family home when growing up. “Lots of things,” the Prime Minister insisted.

“All sorts of things like lots of people. There’ll be all sorts of things that I would’ve wanted as a kid that I couldn’t have. Famously, Sky TV, so that was something that we never had growing up actually.”

It is a somewhat mischievous question. Many empathetic people who genuinely care about poverty will not have experienced extreme material difficulties. The heart of the matter is whether Sunak, from his lofty tower, has the requisite understanding of poverty and empathy with those going through tough times to prioritise policies that improve their lives. There is nothing to suggest Sunak lacks this. 

But, of course, the sob stories followed – and it’s all the media’s fault for latching onto it. On the campaign trail, when asked whether he had Sky TV as a youngster, Ed Davey said no. Indeed, Sky TV didn’t exist until Davey was 24. But of course, the Lib Dem leader didn’t miss the opportunity to emphasise his woes: “I lost my father when I was four and my mum was so fantastic she managed to make up for that. She didn’t have that much money… and I remember my mum making me walk up the hill to go to Costcutter where coffee was two pence cheaper.”

Starmer was asked a similar thing. He was a bit savvier, explicitly saying he was not “pleading poverty”. Yet, he harked back to a time when he had spoken about his family phone getting cut off because they could not afford to pay the bill. He just had to get it in there.

Cue the Greens to make the competition of misery even more ridiculous. The party’s co-leader Adrian Ramsay complained that he was not allowed a pet as a child… until a certain age when he was. 

No doubt life has been tough for our politicians. All the Hound can say is #BeKind.

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