Rishi Sunak has a plan

Sue Nethercott
4 min readJun 5, 2024


Rishi Sunak and the conservatives keep saying they have a plan. How do their plans stack up?

Plan? What Plan?

I learned to plan when designing computer systems, testing plans and web sites during my 25 years in IT. These days I plan my garden instead.

Planning principles

To effectively plan a project, you must start by considering the “who, what, when, where, and why”.

To me, the most important question for most projects is the “who”. You need to consult all stakeholders — everyone who will be affected. They will often know more than you do, between them, saving you from unintended consequences, risks, or outright disaster.

The “why” is also important. In the case of politicians, it is often not for the reason they say, but to keep or enlarge their power or to please their donors. So all political plans, whatever the party in power, should be viewed with suspicion.

Planning a garden

My garden plan has two aims. One is to grow as much fruit and veg as possible for as long a season as possible. The other is to provide a haven for wildlife. A haven for bees for their entire season is necessary to get my crops pollinated.

Before planting a garden, it is best to plan everything for at least a year ahead. Otherwise, you won’t get the best conditions for your fruit and veg or you will have too much or too little or it will all come at once.

The climate in the UK has now become too variable — I’ve had crops drown or freeze, and bees come out too early in an unusually early relatively warm winter spell and not be able to find food and die, leaving crops unpollinated. So last year I started using raised beds for the first time. Rinse and repeat does not work in a changing world, we need to learn and plan. Any government that does not plan for climate change is falling down on the job, as insurers against floods and emergency services could tell them.

Past Tory plans

Previous Tory ‘plans’ have not been at all well thought out.

Before the Brexit referendum I studied the University of Edinburgh’s course “Towards Brexit? The UK’s EU Referendum” and it became clear to me that either they had not done their homework and/or they were lying their heads off. The result has been a disaster. The list of downsides shows just how many stakeholders were not consulted. Lying to stakeholders (in this case the voters) does not bring about a good result. Lying to yourself is even worse.

When Boris Johnson prorogued parliament, he did not bother to find out if it was lawful, causing chaos in parliament.

When Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng announced their mini-budget without having consulted or informed key groups, the markets immediately punished them — and therefore Britain. The result was a financial disaster.

One thing they generally fail to do is to specify how results will be measured against expectations. I think that should be included in every suitable law. No more of this claiming that their ideology works when it doesn’t.

Past American plans

Donald Trump was so ill-prepared for winning the 2016 election that he did not even have an acceptance speech ready.

George Bush thought his Iraq war would soon be over and Cheney expected to gain control of the Iraqi oil fields. Instead, it lasted 8 years, 8 months and 28 days and tens of thousands were killed. America did not get the oil.

FDR’s New Deal plan on the other hand improved (and saved) the lives of many Americans.

Past Labour plans

Labour introduced the NHS which improved the health of the nation.

Rishi Sunak’s plans

Sunak announced the general election without warning most of his cabinet, let alone his MPs or constituencies. Not a good start to their election campaigns.

The same goes for his ‘plan’ to introduce national service for 18-year-olds. It would mean that one in five armed forces members would be aged 18. Similarly plans for the NHS seem to assume that the staff needed to carry them out will magically appear — not likely since they seem not to have planned for the loss of foreign NHS staff due to Brexit.

If he has considered costs, risks, time scales, resources needed, alternatives, benefits, feedback loops and wider consequences, then I have yet to see it.

He has also scaled back plans when he should have strengthened them, for example, net zero.

I’m not sure exactly when or why the plan for the HS2 rail network started to go astray, or if it was sound in the first place, but it clearly should either have been shelved earlier, or taken in hand and continued. Sunak has left it in a mess. And the decision was so sudden that they were still compulsorily buying land in its path the day before the announcement.

No, Rishi Sunak, you do not have a plan. What you have is wishes, aims, promises (likely to be broken) or wishful thinking.

Does anyone have a plan?

Clearly the Tories don’t. Labour does not look promising. To me, the top priority is to defeat the Tories who have been so disastrous for the UK over the past 14 years, but not to replace them entirely with Labour. The more good MPs from other parties, particularly the Green Party, that we can elect, the more MPs we will have who will hold the government’s feet to the fire and speak up for the environment, the NHS and the poor.



Sue Nethercott

Open University BA, UMIST MSc, OU BSc Environmental Studies. Interests: environment, COVID19. Double #ostomate. Thom Hartmann’s newsletter editor. Views my own.