2019. It’s been a hoot. Or if not that – for hoots suggest fun, and/or owls – then at least fascinating to rubberneck, the political story arc driving itself off its hubris cliff in an idiot carriage fashioned from Battenburg cake and duck vomit, time after time after time.
Curled up on the sofa with BBC Parliament and a bottle (or five) of wine, and there’d be Theresa May, her Brexit aspirations melting like the Nazis’ faces in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Her political integrity, ditto. Then Little Lord FauntleFuck became PM, who appeared hellbent on screwing up just as badly as his predecessor, but with far more haste and an extravagant uplift in seppuku-style larks and japes. And whilst the election campaign was a dreary slog festooned with lies and lame subterfuge, it feels churlish to complain when it’s been a year in which the Commons and its orbit has resembled an am-dram production of Are You Being Served?, the cast leathered on dirty hooch and with Jacob Rees-Mogg putting in a sterling turn as Mrs Slocombe’s pussy.
Well, the fun and the owls are over. The punters have spoken, and FauntleFuck’s majority – which I’d previously suspected was the title of a feeble-minded novel from the ‘30’s about a public schoolboy born without a conscience – is no longer the title of a feeble-minded novel from the ‘30’s about a public schoolboy born without a conscience but an actual, genuine thing, like a dreary Tuesday in the rain or the Ebola virus.
And what a majority it is. A gaudy monument in the shape of FauntleFuck’s swollen knackers, crafted by the burghers of Bassetlaw and Bolsover. Redcar and Wrexham. Landscapes pockmarked by the impact of austerity, which I thought was an ideology propagated by some of FauntleFuck’s chums, but maybe I’m misremembering.
The Tories were there for the taking. In power for nearly a decade, theirs has been a dogmatic shredding of the state, enacted under the cover of fiscal parsimony and with the charred husk of Grenfell Tower as its three-dimensional avatar – which is another way of saying ‘Austerity is the idea that the 2008 financial crash was caused by Wolverhampton having too many libraries,’ a wonderful Alexi Sayle gag, only my words aren’t as funny because what is the value of life when there are profit margins and shareholder value to be in thrall of?
The Tories were there for the taking. What began as a blasé game of snake eyes played by a pigman called Dave – enough casino chips to silence his Eurosceptic flank – ended up as a yes/no referendum that lacked a binary answer, and once that all went tits up we got May, and tautology, and flailing about failing to leave the EU, which begat Johnson, a cad and a bounder, a Terry-Thomas villain from an Eailing comedy in a fright wig, his chubby paws in somebody else’s knickers, his score on the sociopath test robust and effort free.
Signature moment of the election campaign? FauntleFuck, pocketing a journalist’s phone rather than having to face a photograph of a young boy forced to sleep on a hospital floor.
Closely followed by FauntleFuck, hiding from a different journalist in a fridge.
The Tories were there for the taking. So what went wrong? Why the hell did we gift wrap five more years and leave it in the stocking of a reckless fop? I don’t recall wrapping a little old lady, a write your own will pack and an overdose of morphine, then sliding the bulky, enticing package beneath Harold Shipman’s Christmas tree, which come to think of it isn’t too dissimilar.
Overall, the Conservative share of the vote registered but a modest increase. T’was Labour’s dividend that fell into the elevator shaft, which suggests a slightly more complex narrative than simply Brexit-horny market traders in the midlands and north swapping red for blue.
I’m not here to diagnose Labour’s ills on their behalf; I don’t need to be; not when we have a comedy internecine grapple for the party’s soul to look forward to, the first punches of which were thrown live on air even before Sir Professor Sir John Curtice was summoned before the election night cameras to justify his exit poll juju. It was also difficult not to feel sorry for John McDonnell, who materialised in front of Andrew Neil in the BBC studio resembling the spirit in a Victorian ghost story – perhaps one who’d just realised he was dead, and was therefore having to reappraise the nature of existence on the fly.
But yeah, that funny old man that they had at the tiller – a Michael Foot for people who watch Love Island – he wasn’t very good. Corbyn’s natural habitat is as a character in a Mike Leigh film, not real life politik. He should be in the open-plan kitchen, having a poignant conversation with Lesley Manville, one of them prepping a salad, the other opening a bottle of rioja – a different skillset to that of Labour leader, where bringing people with you is more important than sobbing over the organic balsamic.
That said, the degree of animosity that Jeremy Corbyn attracts isn’t necessarily straight-forward to unpick. Do we no longer have a difference between flawed and mendacious leadership? The personality soup of a presidential-style campaign, and I can’t trust Corbyn because he’s in the IRA, or Hamas, or hummus, which he sometimes eats directly from the tub, like a guilty-looking possum planning to nationalise everything and return glam rock to the hit parade.
History has little time for losers, so won’t be kind to Corbyn. Or schadenfreude’s Jo Swinson for the matter – the first politician to declare themselves the next PM at the top of the campaign, only to spend the dénouement on the dole.
Yet this election’s key narratives travel way beyond personality. In England and Wales the opposition failed; the Remain movement, the progressive consensus, sold out by tribal fuck-wittedness. The Liberal Democrats actually increased their share of the vote, but under our anachronistic electoral system, did so in all the wrong places; Labour were defending a whisker thin majority in Remain-voting Kensington, so what do the Lib Dems do? Select Sam Gyimah, one of the Tories that Dominic Cummings purged, to fight the seat. So now Grenfell has a Conservative MP. Well done, everyone. Absolutely no irony here.
FauntleFuck stood on a platform fashioned from bullshit and vacuity, knowing that if forced to fill in the details he could do so at his leisure. But it was bullshit and vacuity defined by consistency; a debased form of infantile propaganda, bereft of content yet resolute in delivery, which appears to turn the electorate on the more they hear it.
This wasn’t a message that went down well in Northern Ireland, which – unless the locals are smashing up the gaff – Westminster has spent near-on a century trying to ignore. Or in Scotland; England’s uppity hat, full of barbarians, Donalds without troosers, and – in the summer months – Tory grandees in tweed and with shotguns, striding across the heather to blast holes in the local wildlife. Then again, any noise from his Celtic fringe and FauntleFuck will rely on his Minister for the Union for counsel. And because – courtesy of some expert trolling – FauntleFuck’s Minister for the Union is Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, he’ll take one glance at his moon-sized majority, think about tiffin or vaginas for a bit, then dismiss his petitioners with a contemptuous flick of the wrist, like a dauphin with indigestion. The SNP had a strong campaign, Nicola Sturgeon one of the few leaders who emerged with credit. She also tweets about contemporary fiction at the weekends, whilst FauntleFuck doesn’t because the only book he’s ever read is a compendium of The Sun’s George and Lynne cartoons, which contains plenty of tits but doesn’t carry much literary merit. Yet a union of equals this never was, so fuck off, Scotch folk. Eat your oatcakes; we got Brexit.
And that’s it. The end of something. Hope, quite possibly. In January we’ll leave the European Union. Next Christmas, if there’s no trade deal, then we’re back to hiring ferries that don’t exist, stockpiling medicines and body bags, and watching Nigel Farage masturbate on live TV again.
As for the rest – well, the notoriously lazy FauntleFuck can make it all up as he goes along. Does he believe in the primacy of the free market? A warm and fuzzy one-nation Toryism? The letters page of Escort Readers’ Wives? Nothing but himself? Boris Johnson should by rights be playing a witless party clown in a crappy, down market sit-com. He’ll set fire to the curtains, suffocate his performing rabbit, drop his props in front of the children, revealing his stash of porn and pies, and all of it will be accidental, so the adults in the room can’t really berate him – not when he’s ruffling his hair and grinning like that.
But FauntleFuck isn’t the character in a ropey sit-com. Instead, he’s in charge for the next half decade, and we can’t even raise a collective grievance via HR.
It’s not Johnson’s fault. He’s simply a product of his environment. A world king – he’s only getting what’s due to him. No, it’s the electorate I have beef with; they’ve signed us up for this, and when I see next them, I’ll kick them down the stairs. I thought we were better than this. But we’re not. So I’ll quote the final line of American Psycho, instead.
THIS IS NOT AN EXIT.