Getting tough on all of the above

October 7, 2014

Britain's next parliamentary election will take place sometime next year, so the major political parties are honing their message, writes Independent columnist Mark Steel.

ALL THE major political parties can congratulate themselves on their national conferences, as their job was to establish the agenda for the election, and they've all succeeded in establishing that it will be mental.

For example, they'll all compete for the title of who's toughest on immigration, until Theresa May, the Tory Home Secretary, pledges to fill the English Channel with piranhas, to stop anyone getting in by swimming, but Labour's Ed Balls will complain these are foreign, so he'll promise to train a fleet of trout in active combat, on billboards saying, "British Jobs for British Fish."

But if any party leaders saw the front page of the Hereford Times, they'll have read how local farmers are desperate for foreign workers to pick their fruit, as they all seem to have left, and as no one else seems willing to do it, tons of apples are going rotten.

Presumably Iain Duncan Smith will announce this is excellent news, as it proves immigration has slowed down, and he'll add, "But we shan't rest until not one foreigner can pick our apples, so EVERY SINGLE APPLE is completely mouldy, making Hereford a sea of British maggots we can be proud of."

Labour Party leader Ed Milliband
Labour Party leader Ed Milliband

Then Nigel Farage of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) will protest by saying, "They SAY they'll let the fruit go rotten, but only UKIP will place snipers in every orchard, and to make sure they stay unpicked, we'll spray every piece of fruit in Britain with lighter fuel. THEN let's see the Bulgarians try and come here to do stuff that needs doing."

It's not just jobs we don't want that foreigners are stealing from us. Aldershot has a large Nepalese population, because of the Gurkhas' links to the military base there. But as the local Tory MP Gerald Howarth said a while ago, "My constituents often have no park bench to sit on, because the Nepalese take up the park bench spaces."

Of all the things foreigners come over here to sponge off us, that must be the sickest of them all. There's only so many times you can find a Nepalese in a space on a bench before deciding enough is enough. I should imagine that, as they're used to living up mountains, they crawl to the top of the climbing frames as well, leaving no room for anyone else, especially if they go up there with their yak.

Someone of a liberal persuasion might suggest one solution is to provide an extra bench. But that's the sort of thinking that bankrupted this country in the first place.

Between now and the election, politicians will make roaring speeches such as, "We can no longer tolerate wave after wave of immigrants that come here taking our moods. I have a constituent, Eric the window cleaner, and he told me he wanted to be melancholy one morning, but all the melancholy had been taken by Romanians, so he had to be wistful instead. IS IT ANY WONDER THE BRITISH PEOPLE ARE AFRAID TO GO INTO THEIR OWN GARDENS?"

THEN THE debate will move on to who is tougher on terrorism. Theresa May has made a start, by promising new laws to stop the spread of terrorism, although I thought terrorism was already, on the whole, vaguely illegal.

But Labour will probably respond by declaring these measures don't go far enough, and we need to make it illegal to say "Kaboom!" or look up Syria on at atlas. Then Prime Minister David Cameron will propose banning suspected terrorists from sneezing, and Anjem Choudary, the Muslim activist, will only be allowed to speak on television if he does it in a Cornish accent.

And they'll all yell about who's prepared to cut the most benefits. George Osborne, the chancellor of the exchequer, insisted they had to be frozen, because they can't go up more than wages. But it's his government that froze millions of people's wages as well. So next week, he'll tell public-sector workers they have to plow their master's field and feed his chickens on a Sunday, and then he can say, "We simply can't allow those without work to receive benefits without plowing anything, while hard-working serfs are busy sowing barley. So from now on, you'll only be paid while out of work if you squeal like a pig like the chap in Deliverance."

Then Cameron announces a cut in taxes--"once everything's sorted, which I'm sure it will be in four or five years", and his supporters all cheer and punch the air. He might as well have said, "One day, around 2018, if I learn to fly on the back of a pterodactyl, I'll give you all a lift to the park for free."

So Labour, instead of making their usual retort that they'll cut the deficit as well, but they'll take 25 minutes longer because they care, should embrace the spirit of the campaign. They could announce a ban on flamingos, as the British people, while tolerant, can only tolerate so much. Then Clegg and Cameron and Farage would scurry about for the most anti-flamingo promise their advisers can compose.

Labour could pledge to help the squeezed middle by replacing child benefit with lessons in alchemy. They can promise to end child poverty with a scheme in which every six-year-old plays one match for Manchester City. They can guarantee a referendum on whether to stay in the solar system, and ensure savings in government by converting the whole of Whitehall into a yurt.

Because if it's going to be mental, they should do it properly.

First published at the Independent.

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