Attentive readers will recall that this time last week, I was indulging in a good old whinge about the fact that while there was plenty going on in the news, precious little of it was in any way even potentially amusing. This week I find that the situation is reversed; while there’s not much happening, that which HAS been happening is so hilarious that I’m not sure there’s anything I can say or do to make it any funnier.
And no, I’m not referring to Rupert Murdoch’s side-splitting retirement statement, in which he congratulated himself on a lifetime spent battling against the “elites”. Because after all, nothing screams anti-elitism like the spectacle of the most powerful man in the world bequeathing his planet-straddling empire to his firstborn son.
Rather, I find I’m obsessed with the environmental “policy announcement” our next former prime minister gave last Wednesday, which spoke of a “government” that has long since passed through desperation and out the other side and has now moved on to a sort of political fugue state in which reality itself has lost all meaning.
One could almost sympathise; trying to whip up support after 13 years of uninterrupted failure culminating in the post-Brexit death spiral can’t be easy. There are no past successes to point to, and all promises of a brighter future ring hollow in even the most fervent supporters’ ears.
The solution they’ve hit upon is so outrageous as to verge upon admirable in its sheer brass cojones: rather than wheel out some positive, vote-winning policy initiatives, the PM flagged up a raft of deliberately UNpopular – and, of course, entirely IMAGINARY – policies and then gave the good news that he’d “scrapped” them.
It would be twisted genius were it not so transparent; still fixated upon their skin-of-the-teeth victory in the Uxbridge by-election – and the shaky but enthusiastically adopted consensus that this was down to the unpopularity of the ULEZ vehicle emissions regulations – the “government” has evidently decided to make the environment the latest (last?) battlefield in its shabby “culture wars”. Thus what we got was not a list of serious policy ideas, but rather a bizarre parody of the sort of regulations a Conservative “thinker” might imagine an overbearingly eco-conscious administration imposing.
As such, we were told there would be NO MEAT TAX! No compulsory car-sharing! And, most memorably of all, NO need to split your rubbish into SEVEN DIFFERENT BINS!
And when even normally servile media types felt compelled to ask “But… there was never GOING to be a meat tax, or compulsory car sharing, or a seven bins rule… was there?” The PM and his spokesthings came back with a “And now there definitely won’t be! Rejoice!” Not “clutching at straws” so much as “feebly batting the air in the vague direction of a place you think you might have seen a straw once”.
Still, for all the derision that greeted the announcement, the PM did look mighty pleased with himself afterwards. We may not have heard the last of this “initiative”. In this spirit, here are Some More Imaginary Policies Rishi Sunak Could ‘Scrap’.
ALL NEW CARS WILL NOT BE WIND-POWER ONLY FROM 2045
Because let’s face it, electric vehicles were never going to be enough for the green zealots, were they? They might not produce any emissions themselves, but where’s all that electricity coming from, eh? Power stations, that’s where! But fear not; we’ve thwarted their plans to replace all engines with sails and masts. Imagine trying to get across London from west to east, finding yourself becalmed on the North Circular Road for days on end only to get blown all the way back to Chiswick when the wind changes…
ALL UK MOTORWAYS WILL NOT BE CONVERTED TO CYCLE PATHS
Under the newly appointed Velo-Tsar Jeremy Vine, our whole motorway network was to have been given over to cyclists, with filth-belching motor vehicles confined to the hard shoulder. Sneering and flicking the Vs at the perpetually stranded drivers was to have been “strongly encouraged”.
ALL CARNIVORES WILL NOT NOW BE INTERNED IN VEGETARIAN RE-EDUCATION CAMPS
You have no idea how close we came to this one folks; we’ve seen the plans. Every morning you’d be marched out of your sustainably sourced canvas tents in your hemp overalls and PVC boots and forced to prostrate yourself before a statue of Linda McCartney while Smiths songs are played at piercing volume over the PA.
YOUR ASHES WILL NOT BE SPLIT INTO SEVEN URNS
OK, so nobody was actually suggesting this but you know the eco-freaks; you give ’em an imaginary inch, they take a fictitious mile. If we’d let them get away with the seven bins thing, next thing you know, you’re at the crematorium to take receipt of grandma’s remains, only to be handed seven empty jars, a bucket of ash and a sieve and told to get sifting.
YOU WILL NOT BE REQUIRED TO HAVE A PERSONAL WIND TURBINE BOLTED TO THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD
No more carrying nasty polluting battery packs for when your phone runs out; you’d have to connect it to your cranial windmill and START JOGGING.
YOUR CHILDREN WILL NOT BE SOLD TO RUSSIAN GANGSTERS TO COMBAT OVER-POPULATION
Of course, there’s nothing to stop you CHOOSING to sell your children to Russian gangsters as a private citizen; in fact, if you can find him, the former MP for Uxbridge might have some useful phone numbers in this regard.
POEM OF THE WEEK
The King has been to Paris
He addressed their parliament
I think it’s not since Agincourt
That the monarch has been sent
To France on urgent business;
I’m sure the time flew by
And now they’ve all remembered
What they did to theirs, and why