Friday, April 10, 2015

Election Diary - Day 12: The Big Society Strikes Back

Friday 10th April
With the Tories slipping in the polls, they need a positive message. David Cameron is visited by the Ghost of Policies Past.1

David Cameron awoke with a start, and discovered that he had been shouting.
“What is it darling?” said a wearily concerned Samantha.
“I had a dream darling. The Big Society came to me in a dream.”
“The Big Society? I thought that was all in the past.”
“No. It came to me. It told me that I had abandoned it, but I said “No, I didn’t abandon you. I just forgot you and left you in a pub.”
“You did put Florence to bed didn’t you?”
“What? Oh, I think so. I need to make some phone calls.”

A bleary gathering at CCHQ was happening. It had not been a good week. Tony Blair stole the headlines on Tuesday, Labour’s policy on Non-Doms left the Tories on the wrong side of public perception, and Michael Fallon decided that the best way to discuss defence policy was as a gossipy fishwife. Furthermore, polls were emerging that morning that not only had Labour ahead, but also Ed Miliband ahead on personal ratings for the first time ever.
The demand was for positivity, and the Prime Minister had some.
“We’re going to bring back the Big Society,” said Dave.
No-one said anything, but looked at each other as if the PM had suggested getting back in touch with an ex-girlfriend who none of them liked.
“We’re not going to call it that though, are we?” said Lynton Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.
“Why not? The Big Society was a great idea.”
“No-one understood it last time Dave.”
“This is different. I’ve had an idea. We’re going to make employers pay their employees to volunteer in our society.”
“We had this idea before. We ran it back in 2008.”
“Yes, but this time I mean it.”
“Whose going to pay for it Dave?”
“The employers.”
“Because it’s a good thing to do.”
“And that’s meant to be enough for them?”
“Oh, Lynton – the smiles of elders and babes in the face of generosity is reward enough for anyone.
“Dave, are you alright?” enquired George Osborne, whilst Jeremy Hunt chimed in.
“You’ve included nurses in this. Who’s going to cover their shifts?”
“Where there’s a will there’s a way, Jeremy.”
Everyone stared in shock, smiled and nodded at him. He promptly left, humming “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The others just threw disbelieving glances at each other.
“He wants us to help people and for business people to cover the cost?” exclaimed George finally. “I won’t do it. He can’t make me.”

The Tories are sent far and wide to get the word out. Eric Pickles was on The Today Programme and has an unfortunate slip of the tongue. When asked whether or not he would welcome the Tory campaign now being “relentlessly positive”, he stumbles and it almost sounds like he’s saying that the Tories are now being “resentfully positive”.

Ed Miliband is in Edinburgh today, where he is spending a lot of his speech bashing the Conservatives, which is a bit like going into York and bad-mouthing Lancashire: you’re onto a winner.
However, having scolding the Tories for their negativity and scaremongering, he suggests that the SNP are a secret austerity party, before he and Jim Murphy sing “Anything you can do I can better”.

Outgoing Tory MP Sir John Randall shows that talk of the Westminster Bubble and politicians lacking perspective is nonsense. He described the Expenses Scandal, and the experience of waiting to hear whether your expenses were going to be on the front page of the next morning’s Daily Telegraph. He said:  "The trouble was as well the nature of it. It was what I imagine like the knock on the door in the Stalin purges.”
See, perspective. And of course, famously, emissaries from the Telegraph will arrive with howling dogs, armed to the teeth, and dressed in the uniforms of the NKVD.

The Tories appear to be holding Congregational Practice to ensure all of their candidates rehearse their slogans thoughtlessly and at every opportunity.
Today it’s Grant Shapps’ turn to parrot. He is facing a joke candidate in his constituency, called Michael Green, which was famously Grant Shapps’ non-de-plume for his second job.
Grant says this little bit of light-ribbing is in fact a "demonstration of Labour chaos".
Presumably, he also thinks that the sheer number of candidates who have put up deposits in his constituency is a sign that the long-term economic plan is working.

David steals a moment and goes and gets some honest advice from his old mentor, Michael Howard.
“I don’t understand it. Our positivity didn’t seem to work. Everyone was just so cynical.”
Michael, who was hanging upside down in his wardrobe deciding which cape to wear, decided to be frank.
“It’s the problem with your campaign. People just won’t believe you. You’ve been saying “Better the devil you know”. Even if people buy that argument, they still know they’re getting a devil. Now, how do I look tonight?”
“Why can’t you just use the mirror?”
Michael looked at him, affronted.
“Oh, yes,” sorry said Dave. “My mistake.”

The Election Diary will return on Sunday.

1 Events depicted may differ from actual events. In fact, this is a work of fiction, with some facts. But mostly, it's nonsense.

No comments:

Post a Comment