If I were Prime Minister: I'd ban U2 and smoking, and appoint Mark Kermode as Culture Secretary

Our series in the run-up to the General Election – 100 days, 100 contributors, but no politicians – continues with the Head of Political and Social Research at YouGov

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Were I Prime Minister, rather than a political pollster, I would not spend my time telling the electorate that I intend to use my long-term economic plan to secure a stronger economy, a fairer society and a better future for the many in the Britain that you believe in.

Instead, I would try to be truthful. When asked during interviews about my favourite restaurant, I would not select a safe, generic, reasonably-priced chain like Nandos for reasons of political expedience. Instead I would answer honestly, and proudly plug the spectacular sushi and truffle creations at Dinings in Paddington.

Such a move would surely usher in a new era of truth – and therefore trust – in British politics. Then, riding the ensuing wave of unbridled popularity, I would set about making my required changes.

There are very big, important things that I would do, like bringing about a massive increase in the money spent dealing with domestic violence. Support for those, of all ages, experiencing mental health issues would receive a similar boost.

Privatisation of the Royal Family would be followed swiftly by abolition of the House of Lords. The move to a unicameral system would be supported by a heavily beefed-up select committee system which would hold my government (and the body politic generally) to account more effectively.

There are also smaller, but equally important things that I would do, like promoting and (properly) financing competitive team sports for both boys and girls in all schools, state and independent. All schools that would, incidentally, all be strictly secular.

And keeping on education, I would bring about an end to the ridiculous situation that currently means Sixth Form Colleges do not get VAT refunds, but schools and academies do. Niche I know, but important to those of us fortunate enough to have benefited from such places.


At this point, I fear that very quickly the power could go to my head and my focus might start to shift away from these important issues, towards other areas of more personal interest.

For instance the Department of Culture, Media and Sport would be split into three new Super Departments. Mark Kermode would be placed in charge of culture, Charlie Brooker would lead media and my long-suffering swimming coach Ian Woollard would be made responsible for sport.

Cycle lanes would be introduced across the country, but proper cycle lanes – like you get in Copenhagen. Those clever Danes have ensured cyclists are safely separated from pedestrians by a curb down from the pavement. Then it’s another curb down onto the main road, protecting cyclists from cars and other road vehicles. Brilliant!

Longer term, I might even incorporate additional lanes designated for slow cyclists, or those on Boris Bikes. In London and other major cities, slow-moving pedestrians and tourists would be required to travel on entirely different pavements. Ultimately, standing still without a permit would be banned.

The dates of Britain’s national holidays would be adjusted. Each year, for example, August 4th would be designated "Aiden Burley Day", during which all British people would come together joyously to re-enact golden multicultural moments from the 2012 London Olympics.

Similarly, May 4 would become "National Star Wars Day" when the whole country would be given the day off to watch films from the original intergalactic trilogy. Naturally, the prequels would be banned.

Smoking anywhere in public would be banned. Smoking would also be banned in private, with the exception of smoking inside specially designed, small but extortionately expensive Smoking Pods™ that nicotine addicts would rent from their local council. The money raised would be spent on building and improving local sports facilities and cycle lanes.

Fixed-wheel bikes, any kind of tie, and U2 would all be banned. Enforcement of the latter would be Mr Kermode’s first task.

Finally, public corporal punishment would be reintroduced, but there would be only one crime for which it would be permissible: U2 riding fixed-wheel bikes while wearing ties.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I am off to write my manifesto. Yes we can! Yes we can!

Joe Twyman is Head of Political and Social Research at YouGov. You can follow him on twitter @JoeTwyman.