16 June 2019
Ten green bottles hanging on the wall. Three have already fallen, one has jumped off and five more will follow, leaving only the greenest, meanest and most ineffective to be ‘elected’ as prime minister by a tiny minority of those of us at the sharp end. Fissiparous or what? Even the longest-serving MP, a Conservative himself, has described the process as a “tragic farce”. Still, it’s a good way to fritter away the second extension of time granted by the EU.
At this week’s vote, the most realistic of the candidates, who seems to accept the real difficulty of the task in the ever more limited time left and has ruled out a ‘no deal’ exit, came last of the bottles still hanging so could be the next one to fall – the one with teeth and the lovely smile who I’d never heard of until last week, you know the one, Rory Stewart, that’s him, an old Etonian former member of the Labour party and former tutor to Princes William and Harry.
He’s done voluntary work in Afghanistan, he’s admitted to smoking opium at a wedding in Iran, and he’s willing to change his mind when he thinks he was wrong: he was originally a supporter of the Iraq war but his disappointment with its outcome led him to acknowledge it had been a mistake. And he’s the only candidate who isn’t promising unaffordable tax cuts to the stinking rich.
As for the others’ drug-consumption, Gove admitted he’s snorted cocaine so that, if this surfaced later in the campaign, it’d be yesterday’s news, but he was then stupid enough to write a blisteringly hypocritical condemnation of middle-class coke-snorters for The Times. Johnson admitted he’d had something once but didn’t sniff it up, reminding me irresistibly of Bill Clinton who said he’d smoked a joint but didn’t inhale while Barack Obama said he’d smoked a joint and did inhale because that was the whole point.
Incidentally, did you know you can tell cocaine from other white crystalline substances by wetting a finger, dipping it into the stuff and touching it onto your gum? Cocaine immediately makes your gum go numb as if you’ve just had a dental injection.
The bottles still hanging on the wall include Britain’s worst ever Foreign Secretary who ended up getting fired, a man who almost completed the destruction of the NHS before being moved and a man who totally screwed the education system before being moved. All of those still hanging on are making the usual unrealistic promises to cut income tax and national insurance and corporation tax, but only for people who already have too much money. If only all the candidates were required to resign immediately if they became PM and then broke any of their promises …
What seems to be happening is that none of them gives a flying fox about poverty or schools or the NHS or business or even Brexit and their only common interest is in trying to reunite the Conservative party. Johnson has actually said he’ll put £5,000 for every child in school but this is a typical Johnson ploy to distract from the fact that this means that, for every £1,000 spent on education, he’ll only be adding another £1.
Johnson has also bottled out of a public debate because his minders fear he’ll revert to his default mode and say something else stupid. He has said the debate will become “cacophonous” and has only agreed to appear in a moderated BBC studio discussion without an audience. Perhaps Channel 4 could follow the example of ‘Have I Got News For You’ and put a tub of lard on his empty chair? (As I write, not yet sadly.)
Luckily, the next PM will be very unlikely to serve another term because his party is still so divided.
I blame … well everybody really … as any fule kno, especially the fules who’ve read Dickens’ ‘David Copperfield’ (in which Mr Micawber said “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”*), if you haven’t still got the family silver to sell and need to spend more, you need more income. Since the state’s family silver’s already been sold, we need to increase taxes before we will have any money to spend where it’s needed, but politicians all seem to think we common people are only motivated by reductions in the tax we pay.
Nobody seems to have any idea how to fund tax cuts except a couple of candidates who’ve said they’ll steal the £39bn we owe the EU. We already have a wealth tax for the poor (they call it ‘means-testing’ when assessing benefits). Why don’t we include the rich and extend this up the scale to add people’s wealth to their income when deciding what tax they should pay?
But who needs state-funded education, health and social care services anyway? Perhaps one of the bottles will come up with a final solution and start enquiring about hiring Auschwitz for the poor and needy?
* Younger readers can ask their grandparents what nineteen and six means (and the answer’s not twenty five, or even forty two)