The truth about New Labour's New Year

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The Independent Culture
Fools, Morons, cone-heads, nebbishes. Parp-parp! Three ... two ... one ... RAAAAY! RAAAAY! Shud OLE dakwaince BEEF ergot ... Hughie! Ruuuuth! Bleeeuch!

Yik. Reality, please, maestro, and while we are at it, let's ban Trafalgar Square, why not? Significant risk of accident, I'd say, and I bet "Dr" Jack Cunningham, the Amazing Hair-Trigger Man, would agree too, if he'd just lift his head for a moment from his copy of The Boy's Book of Horrible Animal Stuff.

Ban it! Ban it! And if the rest of Europe doesn't fall into line, ban them, too. Turn them back at the borders. "Holiday visit, is it, sir?" "Oui." "And what is your attitude to oxtail, yellow cigarettes, doorsteps, Roquefort cheese, wine made in filthy oak casks from nasty grapes with mould on? Hmm?" "I like these things." "Right. Piss off. Back to Froggy- land before we cut off your vino supply, you adulterous, bacteria-ridden, garlic-munching alien. Garn. Oppit."

Well, hell. I mean, when I was little, it was Christmas which was the buggardly one. You looked forward to it for months, and then it came, and suddenly it was teatime, and your Dalek was broken, and Grandpa was snoring in his armchair looking more dead than he did when he was dead, and it was dusk outside and not even snowing, and you found yourself irretrievably sad and diminished.

Now it's New Year. I don't mean that now it's this New Year in particular, 1998 or whatever the hell it is ... what I mean is that the concept of the New Year has taken over as the source of some of my deepest disappointment, not to mention fear, gloom and raw feral rage. In the days when Christmas was the thing I looked forward to and was then let down by, I never gave New Year's Day a thought. It simply did not matter; New Years were stacked up inexhaustibly, like the never-ending supply of fresh new lives in a computer game.

But now ... now, Christmas doesn't count that much, now that I'm in charge of it. Instead, even though I know I'm being silly, I have come to believe that it's New Year which means something; hope, probably. I now expect there to be a sort of click as the clock passes midnight, old debts cancelled, old sins forgiven, the spring put back in my step, the glint in my eye, and the herringbone in my overcoat.

And what happened, this year? The same as last. Nothing but a weak squelch as the future toppled over into the muddy present. Nothing horrible has gone away; nothing new and gleaming has arrived; worst of all, unless something wonderful has happened in the gap between my writing this and you reading it, that giggling crew of joyless neo-Stalinists is still in Westminster, its collective head still gleaming from enforced daily contact with Tony Blair's arse, its collective heart still as phoney and flint-hard as ever.

It would be vain to hope that this New Year , New Labour might realise that they were elected, not because we liked them, but because we loathed the Tories with a deeper, more righteous and inarticulate hatred than I can remember in my lifetime. There was a time when I wondered whether there could be anything more contemptible than the Tories' belief that we kicked the shitweasels into the street because they were divided on European policy ... but that was before we started getting the measure of "New" Labour's legislation policy.

You think it's going to get better? Hah. Forget it. I can see the future. This month: a demonstration by single mothers, protesting against "Mr" Bleeeugh's witty decision to throw away a 15lb rib of beef presented to him by some farmers, on the grounds that it was "hazardous". The demonstrators will have spent the holiday wishing that they could have had a 15lb rib of beef, happily accepting the "risk" in return for the delight of feeding their friends and family on something special; Mr Bleeeugh will respond by getting Harriet Harman to cut their benefits to no money at all.

February will be marked by "Dr" Cunnilingham's decision to ban hop- growing, on the grounds that someone he once met fell over after drinking beer and sprained his ankle, and in March "Dr" Conning'em will also ban potato-farming, having had a report from some poorly socialised men in suits to the effect that crisps embody a quantifiable risk of getting bits stuck between your teeth and gums, leading to the very tongue-probing behaviour which New Labour was elected to stamp out.

In April an Order in Council will be passed making it compulsory to carry a mackintosh in case of showers, while in May all alcoholism clinics will be closed down on the grounds that they were only catering to a pack of lousy drunks anyway. In June it will become an offence to ask anyone's name on the grounds that the information may be used to discriminate against them; instead, people meeting each other for the first time will be obliged to exchange urine samples, to be tested for evidence of bone-eating, Manikin- smoking or thinking rude thoughts about "Mr" Mandelson. July will be marked with a ban on sunbathing (cancer), and August with a ban on sea-bathing (nasty turds floating about).

In September, the Government will ban bicycles to prevent people falling off them, while in October all acts of unprotected intercourse will cease to be legal, the evidence indicating that hereditary diseases are sexually transmitted. In November "Dr" Cunningham will be injured by falling off his bicycle as a result of riding it up an illegal doorstep while full to the brim with bottled stout and crisps, only being spared serious injury by his foresight in throwing away the T-bone he was gnawing before it could impale him on impact. His breakdown will be attributed to the stress of political office, which will be immediately banned. The year will end with a December ban on New Year, since the New one will be just like the Old: warm, caring, lovely; a people's year. Enjoy. !

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