And so, another valiant England World Cup campaign comes to a “premature” end (you have to say that; even if, as was probably the case this time, the team did at least as well as anybody could reasonably have expected, any exit from the tournament prior to the final itself must, as a matter of national pride, be described as “premature”).
There is, of course, no shame in losing in the quarter-finals in a 2–1 squeaker to the reigning champions, and even if the defeat did once again involve a missed penalty, it was nothing like the sort of ignominious exit that England supporters have become only too used to over the last few decades.
Nonetheless, the disappointment at the defeat of Southgate’s boys – who are, after all, the first England team in decades to play like they like each other and think they might actually win – has been felt throughout old Albion, and nowhere more keenly, I’ll wager, then in the corridors of power…
One could almost feel sorry for our current government (if one were a clinical psychopath, or in some other way completely devoid of any sort of moral compass); whatever they do, they don’t seem to be able to revive their flatlining poll numbers. I’m sure they’d hoped an England victory would have given them something positive with which to associate themselves (for some entirely spurious reason), but it was not to be.
Usually the appointment of a new party leader brings a concomitant “bounce” in popularity; this move is generally regarded as such a safe bet that the Tories tried it twice in the space of six weeks back in the autumn, you may remember. But alas, on neither occasion did the government’s ratings pick up in the slightest.
Even the promise of a slew of public sector strikes isn’t herding lapsed Tories back into the fold, with public sympathy – horror of horrors! – seeming to land on the side of the striking workers.
What can the government do to rally the troops?
INVADE THE FALKLAND ISLANDS
Few people now recall how desperately unpopular Margaret Thatcher’s fledgling government was until early 1982, with support plummeting as unemployment sky-rocketed. Then, one ill-conceived Argentinian invasion of the Falklands (largely initiated by the floundering fascist junta as a feel-good exercise to quell growing unrest) and one swift (if bloody) British reinvasion later, and it was plain sailing all the way to a record-breaking landslide in 1983. Surely it’s worth another shot?
Now I know what you’re thinking; the islands have been safely under British control ever since the liberation in 1982… But that needn’t be a problem. We could say they’ve declared independence (and in all honesty, who could blame them if they did), or perhaps that the penguins have staged a coup. We can worry about the finer points later; get those aircraft carriers in the water! We’ve a 25-point deficit to turn around!
ALL GO ON I’M A CELEBRITY… GET ME OUT OF HERE
It will not have gone unnoticed in Whitehall that lethally incompetent former health minister-turned-equally hapless lothario Matt Hancock’s attempt to rehabilitate his public image by venturing into the jungle to eat kangaroo testicles at the behest of Ant and Dec has been at least partially successful (I guess we’ll know for sure when his book comes out). If nothing else, he made it to the final, which is more than the football team did.
With this in mind, I’m sure the government is wondering if the same trick could work for all of the current cabinet. Perhaps senior civil servants are already negotiating with ITV to get a minister or other prominent Tory MP into every slot on next year’s series of I’m a Celebrity… it’s not as if trading the green benches of the Commons for the jungle will involve a great loss of personal dignity, and it will be interesting to see a load of balls going into their mouths rather than coming out for once.
START CHRISTMAS EARLY
OK, there’s only a week to go, but who wouldn’t welcome an extra seven days of Yuletide revelry?
I mean there’d be no extra money to PAY for an additional week of feasting and days off, and given that most of us are already wondering how the hell we’re going to pay for just ONE day of Christmas this might not go down that well, if you think about it. So DON’T think about it! In fact, that could be the government’s new campaign slogan! “It All Makes Sense If You Don’t Think About It!”
CALL THE ELECTION
Oh come on, be serious.
POEM OF THE WEEK
It’s snowing in December!
How very Christmassy
Normally in Britain
It just snows in February.
When it snows this time of year
We feel the cheer together
But when it snows in February
That’s just crappy weather.