Mark Steel, The Independent
Boris Johnson told us what would happen if we didn’t leave the EU on 31 October. And since he must have been telling the truth, there’ll be a lot of cleaning up to do.
To start with, there are reports that Mark Francois exploded. I imagine the police sealed off the streets around his home, and are warning the public not to approach any bits of him on the pavement, as they could explode again.
And now with refreshing honesty, the party that’s been in government for nine years is campaigning on the slogan “Britain deserves better”. It’s quite sweet, in a way, that they appear to have forgotten they’re in charge already.
Presumably they’ll follow this up with a manifesto written in the same spirit: “There must be someone better than this bunch of incompetent knobheads. What? Oh it’s us.”Thank the Lord the country voted for them in recent years, because in 2015 they warned us the alternative was “chaos with Ed Miliband”, rather than the calm years that followed. Then we voted for them again because Theresa May promised she’d make us “strong and stable”.
This turned out fairly well, although you could describe the last two years more accurately with any other two words picked at random, such as “Britain has been hairy and sideboard” or “triangular and buttplug”.Now they’re pledging to fund the things they’ve been defunding for nine years. “Vote for us,” they say, “and we will replace some of the teachers and police we sacked over the last nine years, when we told you it was essential we cut funding for luxuries such as teachers and police as the deficit was eight times bigger than the moon.”
This attitude would make an exciting new TV game show. First, the Conservatives come round your house and load all your stuff into their van for nine years; then, if you answer some questions correctly, they give back one of your saucepans.
Or maybe they were misunderstood. Maybe in all those speeches about how much money Labour was wasting they were really complaining that Labour hadn’t wasted enough.
For example, when Labour was in office, at no point did they take the wise financial decision to spend £100m on an advertising campaign explaining how we should all get ready to leave something on 31 October when it was obvious that wouldn’t happen. If Labour was sensible, they would have spent £100m on adverts saying: “Get ready for Venus. On 31 March Britain will leave Earth and be part of a new planet. If you’re planning to pop to the Co-op, you will need to complete a document requesting interplanetary travel, and a rocket.”
It’s a brave campaign from the Conservatives, insisting we must trust their leader when at each of the last two elections they’ve said the same, then got rid of the leader themselves.
Maybe their slogan for this election should be “don’t worry, when we’ve decided this one has made a bollocks of everything we’ll find some other idiot”.
Because the last three years have been the most turbulent times in British history since 1945, and no foreign government has even done anything to us. Our own government has got itself in such an unfathomable tangle, most people will be relieved if we only end up 80 per cent worse off with Sussex as an independent state ruled by extremists from the Church of England.
And you have to admire the Tories, because they insist they have to be elected again to stop us getting in a mess.
It’s like a building firm saying “we sent you a plumber to fix a radiator that wasn’t broken, and he flooded your house. So we sent another one to fix everything, and he accidentally filled your house with locusts.
So we sent another one to fix that, who promised to sort everything by 31 October or die in a ditch, but instead he’s poured molten lava all over the garden. So for Christ’s sake stick with him, because if you choose a different firm you might get someone who spoils things.”
But the party wanting your vote now isn’t even the one from before. Because this Conservative Party is one that’s decided the last version wasn’t crackpot enough.
This could cause a problem for Boris Johnson, because for four years we’ve had headlines informing us that “moderate Labour MPs will be deselected, then buried alive in a ritual by Corbyn’s extremists under his allotment to feed his spring onions”.
In the event, none have been deselected at all. But a swath of Conservatives, including two ex-chancellors, have been expelled from the party for being too “pro-European”, so we can only imagine the fury of the newspapers when they hear about that.
So you might assume the other parties would do all they can to stop them being elected, even if that involves tactical voting. But that wouldn’t be mad enough. So instead, there are websites, such as one from the Liberal Democrats that informs us that in North East Somerset the Conservatives are on 38 per cent, the Lib Dems on 32 per cent, and a Labour vote is wasted as they’re on 8 per cent.
One slight detail is the small print says these figures are based on a poll, in which people were asked: “Imagine the result in your constituency was expected to be very close between the Conservative and Liberal Democratic candidate, and none of the other parties were competitive.”
That’s flawless research. Maybe they should do another one, in which people are told “Imagine the Labour candidate was Hitler”.
Or they could just print graphs saying “Only Lib Dems can win in Hastings”, but with small print saying “figures based on a dream my mum had after drinking a pint of cough mixture”.
If we eventually emerge from this better off than we were at the end of the Stone Age, that will be a result.
British politics is being reconfigured – if there were any doubt about this, just look at what has happened in the Conservative Party this last week. It is a party that is unrecognisable
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