Priti Patel: ‘Literally Nothing’

The Home Secretary has been duplicitous for years about her family background. As befits the Tory daughter of Ugandan Asian shopkeepers made good, Priti Patel has spun a Thatcheresque origin story to advance her career, and the tale of African rags-to-British riches isn’t just opportunistic. It started with a parliamentary speech about parents who arrived ‘with literally nothing’, and in its retelling by media outlets like the Daily Mail, it’s become dishonest. That doesn’t make her emergence as a hardliner very unusual. Other supposedly self-made politicians who’ve been keen to kick away the ladders that enabled their success include Nigel Farage (descended from a German economic migrant: https://is.gd/r2Rs6S) and Donald Trump (his grandfather, a draft-dodger from Kallstadt, made his first fortune by running brothels for Klondike-bound gold-diggers: https://is.gd/HdvYXn). Patel’s fakeness rankles enough for me to have written about it for the LRB though: https://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2022/january/with-literally-nothing. There’s more to say, and I’ll be writing a sequel soon . . .