Since we last met, the nation gazed in awe as its most beloved figurehead, resplendent in their finest trappings, was garlanded with the most impressive and majestic symbol of office ever seen in our empire. But once we’d all stopped talking about Penny Mordaunt wielding Excalibur while dressed as a Jedi priestess, we went back to gleefully discussing how the Tory Party had had its collective, and extremely well-barbecued ass handed to it the previous day.
We can now add “expectation management” to the ever-expanding list of things the Conservatives don’t know how to do (somewhere between “running the economy” and “not being an international laughing stock”). Ahead of what even their most loyal supporters had already acknowledged was going to be a fairly bruising set of local elections, various Tory spokesthings had opined that as long as they didn’t lose 1,000 seats, they’d be OK, safe in the knowledge that there was no way they were ever going to lose 1,000 seats. And in this at least, they were correct: they eventually lost more like 1,060 seats.
As the results trickled in, pundits on the right, and indeed the left, inevitably began to crank out think pieces on how these catastrophic Tory losses spelled certain electoral doom for Sir Keir Starmer.
Rather less attention was paid to how the government’s shameless attempts at voter suppression seemed not merely to have failed but might even have backfired, eating into their own support as much as the opposition’s. On Twitter, some conservative commentators (big and small C varieties) tried to suggest that the drubbing the Tories received proved that there had not in fact been any voter suppression; but just because someone is an incompetent cheat doesn’t change the fact that they cheated. Cheating is still cheating even when it doesn’t work.
So if voter ID laws can’t adequately suppress the anti-Tory vote, the government has about 18 months to come up with something that will. Here are some more things it could do to rig the next election…
RAISE THE VOTING AGE TO 70
Well, why not? After all, the retirement age creeps ever closer to the big 7-0, so why not the voting age as well? The argument could be that only those who’ve clocked up their three-score and 10 have the perspective, the maturity, the experience and, above all, the narrow-eyed suspicion of anything weird, new or foreign to be trusted with the franchise.
LOCK UP THE OPPOSITION
This is known nowadays as “the Putin Manoeuvre”, but ol’ Vlad is by no means the first leader to hit upon the idea of jailing all your political rivals on patently spurious charges; it has been a time-honoured move among the kind of tinpot autocrats who still feel the need to PRETEND they have the support of the people. And, as the ever-reliable Metropolitan police demonstrated on Saturday, these days pretty much anyone can be arrested at any time for anything if Suella Braverman says it’s OK, so don’t say I didn’t warn you when the entire Labour front bench get banged up for (offence TBC) next year.
JUST IGNORE THE RESULT
I’m fairly certain that in particular Conservative circles, when the topic of Donald Trump’s refusal to accept the result of the 2020 presidential election comes up, the conversation doesn’t focus on how crass, embarrassing and potentially nation-destroying his behaviour was, but on how damnably close he came to getting away with it…
So when the numbers come in after our next general election, the (presumably) defeated administration might simply decide to style it out and insist that they haven’t lost, it’s all a conspiracy by lefty returning officers, and they’re staying on for five more years, in fact make that 10.
And while this would be more surprising coming from Rishi than it would have been from Boris, do you know, I’m really not sure what we could do about it if they did…
BRING IN ALPHABETICALLY PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION
Under this bold new system, parties would be allocated seats not according to where voters put their crosses on the ballot papers, but on how much space the party’s name takes up on that paper. As such, with a magnificent 12 letters, the “Conservative” candidates would easily trounce the “Labour” hopefuls with their paltry six letters. Yes “Liberal Democrats” pose a problem with 16, but you could fix this beforehand by making them officially adopt the abbreviated “Lib Dems” without telling them why…
START A WAR
Don’t knock it: it worked for Thatcher.
POEM OF THE WEEK
Among the boys in blue’s new powers
Is the power to predict
If they think you might be thinking about
Protesting, then you’re nicked
Don’t have to wait for us to act
Our freedoms to restrict
You’re doing nothing now, but soon
You might be, so you’re nicked
We thought no one knew the future
But it seems the coppers can
They read mischief in your aura
So you’re going in the van
Don’t argue, do not remonstrate
Don’t try to contradict
The Bill have read your placards
And your fortune, so you’re nicked