Mark Steel in The Independent
The Conservative slogan for the election is “Strong and stable”. Because that’s the main thing we want from a government, strength and stability, like you get with Vladimir Putin.
Only idiots get obsessed with the details of what their leaders are strong and stable about, because the important thing is they’re strong while they’re doing it, and they keep doing it even if it’s insane.
Jeremy Corbyn should prove he can match their stability by burning down a public building at precisely half past nine every morning, and display his strength by punching people in the face as they run out the door screaming.
But this would barely touch the Government’s record of strength and stability. For example, every year since they took over in 2010, there has been a rise in the numbers dependent on food banks, going up every year, nice and stable, not haphazardly up one year and down the next so you don’t know where you stand. And weak governments might see hungry kids and feel a pang of conscience, but not this lot because they’re like sodding Iron Man.
George Osborne was so stable he missed every target he set, not just a few or 80 per cent, but every single one because business needs predictability, and when Osborne announced a target, our wealth creators could guarantee he’d come nowhere near it.
I expect they’ll also refer every day to their universal credit scheme, which is five years behind schedule and cost £16bn. You have to be strong to lose that amount and not care. Weak people would get to £3-4bn and think “Oh dear, maybe we should stop”, but not if you’re strong and stable.
The current Chancellor is nearly as impressive. After the Tories promised that under no circumstances would they raise National Insurance, Philip Hammond then raised National Insurance and cancelled raising it a few days later as it was so unpopular, exuding the sort of strength and stability that puts you in mind of Churchill.
Boris Johnson has exhibited the same values, displaying why we can trust him to stand up to dictators such as Syria’s President Assad. After one of Assad’s military victories, Boris wrote: “I cannot conceal my elation as the news comes in from Palmyra and it is reported that the Syrian army is genuinely back in control of the entire Unesco site… any sane person should feel a sense of satisfaction at what Assad’s troops have accomplished”, in an article headlined: “Bravo for Assad – he is a vile tyrant but he has saved Palmyra from [Isis]”.
Since then, the Foreign Secretary has steadfastly stuck with maximum stability to this view, with only the mildest amendment such as: “We must bomb Assad immediately; no sane person could ever wish him to control anything unless they’re a communist terrorist mugwump.”
What a model of stability, because most military experts agree it doesn’t really matter which side you’re on in a war, as long as you don’t compromise your strength or stability by not being in the war at all.
Then there was the Prime Minister’s line on not having an election, from which she hasn’t wavered one bit, and her insistence that we had to remain in the EU, which she’s adjusted a tiny bit to insisting we can only thrive outside the EU, but always either inside or outside, and never once has she suggested we must be somewhere else such as a split in the cosmos consisting of dark antimatter in which we can be both in and out of the EU due to time and space being governed by the European Court of Human Rights.
Thankfully the Labour Party is standing up to Conservative arguments with a dynamic campaign in which they explain how miserable everyone is.
The next party political broadcast will consist of Labour leaders walking through a shopping centre in Wolverhampton, pointing at people and saying: “Look at that bloke – utterly crestfallen. That’s a Tory government for you.”
It feels as if most people have already switched off in this election, so Labour’s best hope could be to answer questions by talking about an entirely different issue. So when Diane Abbott is asked whether Labour’s plans for education have been properly costed, she says, “I’m not sure. But I’ve been reading about koala bears. Did you know they’re not bears at all but marsupials, closer to the kangaroo?”
It doesn’t help that, as in any election, the Conservatives have much greater resources. If we lived in a proper democracy, these would be evened up.
Each newspaper would have to support a different party for each election, so The Daily Telegraph might support the Greens. And the letters column would read: “Dear Sir; with regard to current controversies concerning the use of television replays in Test match cricket, which jeopardise the ultimate authority of the umpire and therefore threaten the rule of law itself, it occurs to me the most sensible way to resolve these matters might be to renationalise the railways and install 40,000 wind turbines round Sussex. Yours sincerely, Sir Bartholomew Clutterbuck.”
And if a wealthy businessman has money to donate to a party, the one it went to would be decided by lottery. So if Lord Bamford wants to contribute to society, he hands over £1m, then is thrilled to learn it’s gone to the Maoist Rastafarian Ban Fishing on Sundays Alliance.
The Conservatives would be delighted to give money to Maoists, because Mao was always strong and stable. You didn’t get him calling off a Great Leap Forward because he was offended by being called a mugwump. General Franco, Stalin, Ayatollah Khomeini – these are the strong and stable models to aspire to, not these weedy liberal Gandhi types, though Nelson Mandela might qualify as a figure of stability, as he kept to pretty much the same routine for 27 years.