Manifesto Launch Week continues today with the Conservatives and, to a less-covered extent, The Greens. Whereas Labour had a cavernous hall at Granada studios with dramatic lighting for their launch, the Tories appear to have gone for a plain room in a building in Swindon, presumably because they’ve had to spend all their money on funding the NHS.
The Tory manifesto itself is a little low on sparkle. David Cameron has just tweeted the front cover of the document (pictured below), which declares “Strong Leadership – A Clear Economic Plan – A Brighter, More Secure Future”, and this will be delivered by The A-Team, now with 50% women (pictured that is).
This is in contrast to the hardback, expensively produced manifesto last time round entitled “Invitation to Join the Government of Britain”; an invitation that was only really taken up by the Liberal Democrats.
The Greens are conducting their launch in a theatre in London’s East End. Natalie Bennett is delivering the meat of it, as it were, ably assisted and chaperoned by Caroline Lucas. It’s a happy, jolly affair, with lots of attendees whooping. There are reports of a “Woo!” and a more old-fashioned “Hurray!”
However, if you want to positivity today then, strangely, you can only turn to Swindon, and the Conservatives.
Journalists are filing into the Tory manifesto launch, to be greeted by an awkwardly-smiling George Osborne, holding a well-stocked tray.
“Good morning James,” he says through the gritted teeth of his grin. “Would you like a milkshake? A lollipop?”
“Haven’t you heard? We’re the “Nice” party now.”
“Ah – I see. No more negative campaigning?”
“School Bully says – sorry, I forgot myself – the Prime Minister says that it’s a return to the good life. In that spirit, have a baby lamb, from David’s collection.”
David Cameron takes to the stage. Behind him is the Conservative slogan, and it makes the choice in this election very clear. Which do you prefer? Labour’s “Better Future”? Or the Conservatives’ “Brighter, More Secure Future”? The Tories, it seems, are even over-spending on adjectives.
But it’s a new Cameron. A nice Cameron. A positive Cameron. Everything is sweetness and light. It’s tax cuts for lower earners, free childcare, homes for all, a flat-screen TV for all, a fondue set, and a cuddly toy! Dave’s conveyor-belt is filled with lots of goodies, all underpinned by relentless positivity and unspecified cuts on welfare.
One figure who is glaringly absent from the speech is Ed Miliband, recently the sole focus of the Tory campaign. He isn’t mentioned once. That is until the journalists get their turn. Every time he is almost provoked into saying something negative, School Bully flinches as if he is at once shamed by his recent conduct, but also desperately resisting his natural urges.
At the end of it all, Cameron departs to the strains of Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow” (having missed the opportunity to go with “Bring Me Sunshine” by Morecombe and Wise), and promptly showers the crowd with Quality Street.
Over lunch at Labour Headquarters, the Tory manifesto is greeted with derision.
“They’re not the party of working people,” scoffs Ed Balls. “We are!”
“No wait,” interjects Chuka Umunna. “I thought we were the party of fiscal responsibility.”
“I thought we were the Judean People’s Front,” mutters Douglas Alexander with a resigned tone, as he looks through a brochure for potential constituencies south of the border.
Giddy from the manifesto launch and high on the sugar from all the candy floss, Michael Gove wanders past a reporter who asks: “Too late to win the election?”
replies the Tory Chief Whip in a moment of light-hearted candour, before continuing on his merry way. Only a few seconds late does he break his step and think “I shouldn’t have said that.”
(In case you’re wondering, I have not made this up.)
George Osborne maintains his fixed grin all the way through the day before finally making it back to his hotel room. As soon as the door shuts, he lets his face drop and screams with relief, banging a frustrated hand on the wall, and going into the en suite to splash water on his face.
“That was so painful to maintain! I don’t know if I can do this for three weeks. It’s going to be such an effort.”
He proceeds to his wardrobe, dons his black cloak, picks up his scythe and proceeds to the account books. There is much work to do.
Events depicted may differ from actual events. In fact, this is a work of fiction, with some facts. But mostly, it's nonsense.