What do you do when your party is presiding over the biggest fiasco since… since… since... Is there anyone around old enough to remember the 70s (I was a kid)? Perhaps you can you tell me whether we’ve hit rock bottom or if there’s a way to go yet?
I think we can probably still say, “since the 70s” because the history books tell us that decade suffered through the three day week and actual blackouts. It was capped off by the winter of discontent in 1979. But we’re getting scarily close to a repeat performance, one that, if there’s any justice, will haunt the Tories like the latter haunted Labour.
Punch ups at the petrol pumps; gridlock on the roads with queues extending for miles on end; Soviet era supermarket shelves.
How’s Bozo the clown going to handle all that as the Tory faithful gathers? I think we probably know the answer. He’s going to clown around. He’ll sit in his office chair with Girls Aloud’s “The Show” on his AirPod Pros before he stands at the podium, hair artfully tousled, to put one on. Actually, no, Boris, please don’t listen to that song. The lyrics start with: “Shoulda known, shoulda cared, shoulda hung around the kitchen in my underwear”. Not an image I want in my head.
The show we’re going to get will feature lots of Union Jacks, a Donald Trump-style thumbs up to the berk in the suit or waistcoat covered in flags, saying “look at me” at the front, some jabs at Labour and the complete denial of reality. Forget the trite slogan, “the British lion is roaring” or whatever rubbish the sharp suited spinmeisters concoct. The one on the platform should read: “Take the blue pill, wake up in your bed, and believe whatever we want you to believe”. Namely, that it’s not happening. Yes, we are actually in the sunlit uplands the Brexiteers kept banging on about. The pugilists fighting for petrol at the pumps are just a fever dream because there isn’t actually a fuel crisis at all.
Labour shortages? Not happening. Brexit screw ups? Not happening. Crops left to rot in the fields? You know the answer. As for the turkeys, they’ll definitely vote Tory at Christmas this year because if they do there’ll be no one in the processing plant to deliver them the coup de grace.
There’ll be a few dodgy stats trotted out too. The economy scooted up in the second quarter, which Rishi Sunak will hail, ignoring the fact that it’s now seizing up as a direct result of the spectacular ineptitude of the people who sit around the cabinet table with him. And then it’ll be straight onto the culture wars. Nothing like bashing the BBC when you want to divert attention from the fact that the team around you would struggle to organise the average village fete, let alone run a country.
Bozo’s speech will be hailed by the faithful, all of whom have fully bought into the General Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmanay Melchett doctrine. You’ll know what I mean by that if you have watched Blackadder Goes Forth. “If nothing else works then a total pig-headed unwillingness to look facts in the face will see us through,” says Stephen Fry’s memorable character. The clip is on YouTube and there should be a link to it in the conference welcome pack.
Melchett was intend to satirise Britain’s incompetent First World War generals who callously sent their troops over the top of the trenches to die in hails of machine gun fire. Johnson likes to see himself as the successor to Churchill. If the British are indeed lions, he and his colleagues are actually more like that former conflict’s donkeys, sending us all up over the top to die in a hail of virus particles.
With universal credit about to be cut, the next epidemic could be one of food poverty. But that’ll be another one for the mad blue pill denial machine to handle.
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