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Is it time for a virtual prime minister?

Comedian MITCH BENN considers how Abba's new technology could be used in politics...

Abba's Abbatars are seen on a display during their Voyage event at Grona Lund, Stockholm. Photograph: Getty Images.

If, like (it would appear) much of the western world, you saw Abba’s livestream address last week, you’ll know that the Swedish pop legends are very much back, with the announcement not just of their first new album in nearly 40 years but also of a new ‘live’ show, to be performed by ‘Abbatars’, digital recreations of the (now all 70-something) group as they appeared in their hit-making prime.

Abba are being deliberately cagey about the precise nature of the technology to be used to render the Abbatars, insisting that they won’t simply be holograms but something altogether more substantial. If they have indeed cracked the science behind creating computer-generated people, here are some more uses for computer-generated people…

GIVE DONALD TRUMP THE WIFE HE’S ALWAYS WANTED
Reports from Mar-A-Lago suggest that Melania Trump hated pretty much every minute of her time as first lady and has told Donald that if he insists on running for president again in 2024 (as a depressingly high percentage of Republican voters are apparently desperate for him to do) then he’s on his own.

A CG replacement Melania would presumably do everything Trump told it to do, go wherever he needed it to go and could probably even be programmed to smile in a way that didn’t look like a barely concealed grimace of pure loathing.

Meanwhile, the jury still seems to be out on whether Trump will indeed take another shot at the White House, with Fox News last week running an online poll asking “Should Trump run in 2024?” To which the obvious answer would appear to be that Trump should run RIGHT NOW. He can be at the southern border by sundown (it’s okay; it’s not like there’s a wall or anything).

CG MPs
MPs are being herded back into the House this week, mainly for appearances’ sake, there being no end in sight to the Covid crisis.

If it’s so important that the TV news carry images of fully attended green benches, is it really that important whether they’re occupied by actual human beings. Virtual MPs would, of course, always be immaculately turned out (something evidently much on the mind of the speaker Lindsay Hoyle just at the moment), would never file spurious expenses claims and could even, perhaps, one day be programmed never to mislead the House or break the ministerial code of conduct.

But one thing at a time, eh?

And if we’re going to have CG politicians, then we might as well have…

CG VOTERS
Now here the possibilities really are endless. If your numbers are a bit down, get the boffins to run off a few thousand virtual supporters to attend your next rally and suddenly you’ll look like you’re surging ahead. If nothing else, millions of virtual voters could be despatched to the polls at the next election in order to retroactively justify the draconian voter suppression… I mean voter ID laws the government hopes to have in place by then.

These measures, which by the government’s own estimation could disenfranchise three and a half million people, are of course necessary to protect our democracy from the scourge of in-person voter fraud, of which there have been (checks notes) SEVEN recorded instances in the last ten years.

Or they could actually be given the vote, and programmed to support…

THE VIRTUAL PRIME MINISTER

Not only is this the logical extension of this technology, it’s also where Boris Johnson’s whole life has been headed. It would make perfect sense if a man whose entire personality consists of contrivance and affectation should eventually become an entirely artificial creation.

It would solve all his problems; let’s face it, Boris Johnson never really wanted to be prime minister, he just wanted to have been prime minister.

He’s been gazing longingly at the door of Number 10 ever since it first closed behind him. And with no obvious successor among the intellectual giants with whom he’s surrounded himself, what better idea than to install a
3D printed copy of himself to take over when he resigns to spend more time with one or more of his families?

In fact, he could run off a few more copies for the families while he skips off to start work on the next one.

POEM OF THE WEEK
If I could run off a copy of me
I’d send it out to do
The things that I don’t fancy
While I stay here with you.
If I could run off a copy of you
We’d send it off to be
Gregarious and sociable
While you stayed here with me.
If we could run off copies of us
That looked completely real
We’d pack them off to do our jobs
While we remained concealed.
And those who met the copies would
Think it was me and you
Not that it would really matter
‘Cos they’d all be copies too.

See inside the 9 September: Brexit - Trouble in store edition

Michael Heseltine pictured in 1956, the year he applied for the Conservative Party parliamentary candidates’ list and ten years before he was first elected as an MP. Photo: John Cole/Getty Images.

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