XL Bully Dog Credit: Juan Botti on Wikicommons

Sunak’s XL Bully Ban is hiding an XXL issue

By Freya Corcoran

Rishi Sunak is trying desperately to cling to power as he resorts to distraction tactics over XL Bully dogs.

Danger to our communities, particularly to our children” said Rishi Sunak in a social media video that circulated recently, and surprisingly, just this once, he wasn’t talking about refugees arriving on small boats (though his language choice is eerily similar). Rather, he was referring to American XL Bully Dogs, who have this month been announced to be outlawed in the UK.

We all know if he had the chance, Dishy Rishi would implement a blanket ban on refugees under the Dangerous Dogs Act too, in fact he’s tried his best to do just that, but this week his focus was elsewhere. No one is oblivious to the carnage that is Tory policy in recent weeks, and the question of where the Prime Minister’s focus lies (and where the Education Secretary’s brain cells have gone) has been cropping up. So, whilst not to diminish the tragedy of the recent fatalities at the fault of poorly domesticated American XL Bully Dogs, a question is raised concerning the true intentions of Sunak’s attempted 15 seconds of fame after the announcement on Instagram reels.

With the Tory party polling at just 26% and with the next general election (probably) less than a year away, it’s hardly surprising that the party’s distraction techniques are coming out to play. It would seem they have no answers to any of the big questions, so rather are plaguing us with throwaway policies designed to appeal to “the average voter”.

Distraction techniques and slogan politics have become no stranger to the British electorate in the last 13 years of Tory power – “Stop the Boats” existing only as a distraction to their disastrous asylum system, and now introductions of brand new bills and time-consuming policies, designed to catch the eye of those who live in marginal constituencies, who might (or might not) be able to grant Sunak another five years in Number 10.

You’re not the only one who isn’t convinced – Sunak probably isn’t either – but when the Tories are falling back on methods like these to win votes, the real issue at hand isn’t the policies everyone’s talking about, it’s the ones we’re being distracted from.

Just in recent weeks, news of over 100,000 asylum seekers in temporary accommodation (for which the entirety of the blame can be placed on the inefficiency of the UK asylum process), 147 schools in danger of literal collapse (and no money to fix them), Birmingham City council declaring itself bankrupt, a terror suspect escaping from prison, and a significant watering down of (already pitiful) climate policies, and if we look past that; the steady increase in poverty rates since the start of Tory power in 2010, an ongoing cost-of-living crisis, significant losses to millions of pensions, not to mention a global pandemic (can’t blame this all on the Tories, though it’s no overstatement to say their handling of it was somewhat sub-par), and, if you can remember it, that tiny thing called Brexit. What a wonderful legacy to have created.

So, we find ourselves here, our fifth consecutive Tory Prime Minister and barely a single positive thing to list about their last 13 years in Number 10 – other than a ban on American XL Bully Dogs. God, what a relief!

The nature of the situation surrounding Sunak’s ban on these animals should not be trivialised, and the deaths of several people as a result of domesticated XL Bullies should be taken seriously. But, when the Tory government has indirectly caused the deaths of so many, whether that be through Covid, or small boat crossings (at the lack of safe passage options), poverty rates and the implications it has on people’s health, or even the lives of future generations which will be directly impacted by climate change not being taken seriously by current policymakers, it is difficult to comprehend  why small issues are taken seriously at such speed, when those that have a larger impact, typically on already disadvantaged groups, are brushed under the rug.

Sunak’s slogans and attempted social media stardom are nothing if not diversion techniques, and we would do well to remember it. It is easy, as is clear from their persistent supporters, to be sucked in and convinced by the words of politicians, and the Tories are no stranger to the British electorate. Targeting minor areas of the electorate, and handling issues which ring loud for small percentages of the voting population to hide their neglect of creating real policies that can make significant improvements to the lives of the British population – particularly those in disadvantaged groups- is a stellar example of the Tories’ familiarity with election-winning games. Their lack of consideration for major issues, lack of concentration in minimising major inequalities, lack of commitment to – even their own – causes and policies is stark, but their approaches to hiding it are XL. So, as we reach our probable (hopeful) final year of Tory power, we must see through their feeble attempts at convincing us they have everything under control. Sunak is no better than a bully himself. And an XS one at that.


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