‘Sunak didn’t get any flowers’

Congratulations to SKY TV for the most comprehensive and refreshingly gender inclusive coverage of an election build up in the UK’s modern-day history. The-all female cast was truly a watershed moment after years of mostly male dominated TV elections’ coverage with female presenters playing second fiddle to their male counterparts.

SKY TV’s incomparable Chief Political Editor, Beth Rigby’s no holds barred scrutiny of the Prime Minister’s and the leader of the opposition’s manifestos, track records and recent and past ‘skeletons’, was near flawless. It set the tone for a flurry of hard-hitting questions from a blood thirsty Grimsby studio audience.

Yet Beth Rigby’s continuous interruptions of the Prime Minister during his interview whilst necessary, ran the risk of making what was essentially balanced coverage being perceived as potentially imbalanced, due to her directly addressing him as “PM”. Rishi Sunak is the UK Prime Minister and protocol dictates that during interviews he is addressed formally as ‘ Prime Minister’ (irrespective of his government’s track record). In the same way his Royal Highness would not be addressed as HRH or Sir Keir Starmer would not be addressed as SKS, Mr Sunak should never be addressed as “PM” directly during an interview.

There is no clear and obvious case of unconscious bias from Beth Rigby towards Sunak due to his ethnic origin, but there is room for misinterpretations of microaggressive behaviour in Rigby’s addressing of Rishi Sunak as “PM” during his interview.

Ironically the fact that this hasn’t even stirred a ripple with the public or any political observers suggests a wider national bias and conditioning that begs the question:

Why are we as a nation so comfortable with a break in protocol that allows this Prime Minister of Great Britain to be addressed as an acronym during an interview, rather than his official title?

On two occasions in the same programme, Rigby corrected herself when directly addressing Labour’s Sir Keir as “Keir” during his interview and reverted back to “Sir Keir”. Yet Mr Sunak was denied a similar courtesy and had to settle for “PM” instead.

Is it any wonder that Rishi Sunak seemed like a bullied schoolboy and beaten man (making Starmer’s performance look a lot better than it actually was)?

Not only did he have to defend his government’s track record to an expected hostile audience and interviewer but he also had to deal with the ignominy of not being given the bare minimum-his basic flowers: the decency of being addressed by his formal title of Prime Minister in front of millions of viewers in the run up to the general elections.

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Author, “I Don’t Understand” – Navigating Unconscious Bias In The Workplace
Founder DiverseCity Think Tank

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