Day two of the election campaign. The chancellor and the shadow chancellor have spoken, and so we, the voters, find ourselves in the unfortunate role of the Irishman in a very old joke.
Here we are, having returned to the jungle camp, clutching our 10 pineapples, staring at the cannibal chief and having to make the difficult choice between Mau Mau or death.
It is a choice of not whether you do or don’t want your life chances ruined, but how. Do you choose the Conservatives to ruin the economy for you because you’re so scared of everything they say Labour will do to it? Or do you choose Labour to ruin it because of everything they say the Tories will do?
Death, in the form of Sajid Javid, was in Manchester, “setting out our economic plan to unleash Britain’s potential”.
“First step,” he said. “Get Brexit done.”
Taken on its own, this is palpably ridiculous. Unleashing Britain’s economic potential by getting Brexit done is in every way the same as unleashing the power of your bolognese sauce by stirring in the contents of the cat’s litter tray.
But all this meant was that the words of the governor of the Bank of England would have to be appropriated and then abused.
“The governor the Bank of England says this deal is positive for the economy,” said the chancellor, with regard to Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal.
Which the governor of the Bank of England did indeed say but unfortunately he was, at that very moment, giving a press conference himself, in London, in which he clarified, yet again, that what he actually said was that the deal was positive for the economy “when compared with no deal” (that being the outcome half the Tory party actually wants).
He also repeated what he has said before, that Johnson’s deal is likely to be worse for the economy than Theresa May’s deal, essentially because May’s deal is much more like remaining in the European Union, which is what any sane country, one that hadn’t been taken in by Johnson’s lies, would do – but too late for that.
Still, here was the choice Javid was asking voters to make. What he was offering, he said, “was a sustainable government, a responsible government, a Conservative government”.
Sustainable. Responsible. Conservative. Who are we to laugh? It could very well be they have worked out that the key have-been-living-underground-since-2016 demographic is what will decide the election, and fair play to Javid for going after them.
But even so. Sustainable. Responsible. Conservative. It was like watching a sort of Theatre of the Absurd Mallet’s Mallet, a new Radio 4 panel show for word disassociation.
Who are these “responsible Conservatives?” Are they who you leave your children with when the Michael Jackson Babysitting Club is fully booked?
We would also learn of the horrors of the last Labour government. “You might remember the financial crash in 2008,” Javid said, “when an arrogant and out of touch Labour government took its eye off the ball.”
Did they take their eye off the ball? That’s debatable. What’s not debatable is who was firing in the criminally dangerous bowling, and that will have been, yes, Javid, who spent the financial crash with his feet tucked under the boardroom table at Deutsche Bank.
Meanwhile, in Mau Mau corner, on to a small stage in Liverpool strode John McDonnell.
He’s got “£250bn of investment” for a green transformation fund. He’s got “£150bn for our social transformation fund” and “another £150bn for schools, hospitals, care homes and council houses”.
There’s also free tuition fees, billions more for the NHS, a new £100bn fund for the purchase of Ryanair scratch cards, and a small £200bn payment to a Nigerian prince who’s been in touch over email with an investment opportunity that’s just too good for the nation to refuse.
All of which sounds great, right up until you remember that if you earn, say, £35,000 a year, you currently pay about £400 a year solely in interest on government debt.
That’s more than your wifi, more than your mobile phone bill, quite possibly more than your gas and electricity. And it’s highly likely to be more than you pay in interest on any credit card debts you might have run up yourself, because you probably wouldn’t be so financially irresponsible. It’s the government’s job to do that for you, and they’ve never planned anything quite so wild as what McDonnell’s got in mind.
Don’t fancy the death then? Nor the Mau Mau? Oh well, there’s always death by Mau Mau – that’s the Lib Dems. More on them tomorrow no doubt.
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