Maggie’s Ghost

I do still miss the old place. So I drop in every now and then to check things are running smoothly. Except they haven’t been lately, have they? Not since the Right Dishonourable member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip became Prime Minister.

I couldn’t believe my eyes tonight. The Conservative Party — my own beloved party — approving a bill that rides roughshod over the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement and BREAKS INTERNATIONAL LAW. The Lord Chancellor and the Law Officers of England and Wales voting AGAINST an amendment ‘requiring Ministers to respect the rule of law and uphold the independence of the Courts’. For shame!

What on earth has become of us? How can I look Ronnie, François and Helmut in the eye now? Our once great nation is a pariah state.

No, I shan’t ever forgive them. And nor should you.

The Internal Market Bill passed its third reading in the House of Commons on 29 September 2020: 340 votes to 256, a majority of 84.

Biology GCSE

Deloitte recruiter to job applicant:

DR: Congratulations! You’ve got the job.

JA: That’s amazing! Thank you so much!

DR: One small clarification. When I say ‘the job’, I don’t mean the finance position you applied for originally. That’s gone. But we do have some vacancies in our Lighthouse labs.

JA: But… Don’t they process Covid tests? What’s that got to do with accountancy?

DR *brightly*: Well, we’re making shedloads of money from fat cat government contracts, with the promise of plenty more to come.

JA: No, I mean why am I, a qualified accountant, being offered a job in a lab?

DR: There’s a bit of a backlog.

JA: But I wouldn’t know what to do!

DR: You’re really being far too modest. *Looks at notes*. It says here you’ve got Biology GCSE Grade D. If anything you’re over-qualified for this shambolic, outsourced mess. Welcome to Deloitte!

Oven-Ready?!

Boris B’stard Johnson here. Just a quick word about that Oven-Ready Brexit Deal.

Thing is, I’m not so keen on it now, even though I signed it and gave it a starring role in my 2019 election campaign. So I’m going to torch the pesky Northern Ireland bit, along with our global reputation. Don’t worry, I’m sure countries will still be lining up for deals once we’ve breached an international treaty. Nothing says trustworthy like breaking the law in a ‘specific and limited way’!

Now, what you definitely mustn’t do is write to your MP about all this. So what if the Good Friday Agreement’s at risk and we’re hurtling towards No-Deal in the middle of a pandemic? Just have a rant on Twitter or watch Game of Thrones. That way MPs will be blissfully unaware of your outrage, and won’t panic and try to rein me in. No point in making my life difficult, is there?

The morning papers on 9 September 2020

Wrong Turn

Helen had met Judy on a yoga retreat in Majorca a couple of years back. After a day of Downward Dog and Bharadvaja’s Twist, they’d enjoyed raising a glass to their freshly aligned chakras.

The last place she’d expected to see Judy again was on news footage of the London anti-Covid demo. But there she was in her boho top, carrying a placard saying ‘Masks Are Muzzles / No Vaxx’ and looking decidedly un-Zen. Behind her was a bloke in a QAnon T-shirt, while up on stage some guy proclaimed that tonic water cured Covid. The camera panned to some fascist thugs, who, without a hint of irony, were concealing their identities with masks.

Helen sighed and glanced at her watch. Another 8-hour shift coming up in full PPE. But you know what? She’d take a world governed by science any day. And if Judy got Covid, you could bet your bottom dollar that she would too.

What’s That, Lassie?

Woof-woof!

What’s that, Lassie? Our GDP’s fallen down a well? A record drop of 20.4% between April and June?

Woof-woof-woof!

And things will only get worse because our feckless government refused to extend the Brexit transition period and are currently screwing up the trade talks?

Woof-woof!

Say what? A no-deal Brexit means a further 7.6% drop in GDP and long-term economic chaos? But we’ll have to sell the farm!

Woof!

It’s hopeless. All we can do is watch loads of Netflix and pray it goes away.

Woof-woof-woof!

What’s that, Lassie? You think I should join a political party or group, write to my local MP and paper, sign petitions, vote in every election, support The Guardian, New European or Byline Times, donate to the Good Law Project and generally keep up the pressure? I’m not sure my pocket money or energy will stretch that far…

Woof!

Just start with one and go from there? Gee, Lassie, that’s a great idea. You’re the BESTEST!

Whip-Crack-Away!

Hi, everyone! I’m Gavin Williamson, your totally incompetent Secretary of State for Education. I’ve just presided over the wholly avoidable A-level fiasco, causing loads of young people huge distress by tanking their futures with a dodgy algorithm (though only if we didn’t like their postcode).

Did you know: I had this portrait taken on the very day I was forced to do my screeching policy U-turn?

As you can see, it’s very understated. The coiled whip at the front of the desk is a particularly subtle touch. See what I did there? A little coded message to the PM. Oh yes, us former WHIPS know where all the bodies are buried, and everything’s neatly documented in that little orange book. So you’d better not sack me. Ever. I’m a Hard Man, see. Even though I do look a lot like Frank Spencer.

Blame Game

Dr. Finkelstein: So how are we feeling this week?

UK government: *stretches out on couch*  Pissed off. We’re constantly being blamed for stuff that’s other people’s fault.

Dr. Finkelstein: Can you give me an example?

UK government: Well, if scientists hadn’t given us the wrong advice1 we’d have totally aced Covid, and if NHS staff hadn’t overused PPE2 there would have been no shortages, and if the labs hadn’t screwed up3 we’d have met our testing targets, and if Apple hadn’t been unreasonable4 our tracing app would have been a triumph, and if care homes had followed procedures5 then Great Uncle Ernie would still be alive, and if teachers in state schools hadn’t inflated predictions6 then there would have been no A-level fiasco.

Dr. Finkelstein: Erm… remember how we discussed taking responsibility for our actions?

UK government: *stony silence*

Dr. Finkelstein (sotto voce): This is the worst case of BSE7 I have ever seen.

1 Thérèse Coffey, 19 May 
2 Matt Hancock, 10 April
3 Downing Street, 10 May
4 Matt Hancock, 18 June
5 Boris Johnson, 6 July
6 Gavin Williamson, 13 August
7 Blame Someone Else

Every Little Helps

Tesco press release, July 2020

We are pleased to announce that we will be axing cleaners at 1,920 of our Express and Metro stores. Their duties, which include cleaning toilets, will be passed over to shop floor staff from 24 August.

This may seem somewhat surprising, given that Covid-19 has made hygiene a top priority, but it reflects our core values one hundred per cent.

No one tries harder for customers — you’ll no doubt be delighted that Liam the cashier was scrubbing the staffroom loos just prior to handling all your shopping at the till.

We treat people how they want to be treated — by sacking cleaners who worked throughout lockdown at great personal risk to keep our stores virus-free. The UK may now have entered the deepest recession since records began, but we’re sure they’ll find another job soon. 

Every little helps — to boost our chairman’s bonus. Dave Lewis pocketed a cool £4.8 million this year, and has definitely never cleaned a toilet in his life.

Follow the Money

But why so shocked? You’re a journalist for God’s sake. When a minister’s adviser sets up a company to secure a PPE contract, and then delivers unusable face masks while trousering £50 million in profit, what you should be thinking is ‘there’s a pattern here’. Disaster capitalists rule the roost in Westminster right now.

Yes, I am one of them. But I see it this way: Captain Tom Moore’s £33 million is going up in smoke right now. And profiteering from the NHS in the middle of a pandemic simply isn’t a good look.

My advice? Follow the money. Lawyer up. It’s really the only language they understand. Take my word for it: they won’t stop otherwise.

No, please don’t contact me again, old chap. Too much cognitive dissonance. Wishing you the best of British, though.

See also: ‘We May Ask Ourselves

Singapore Sling

I’m Dyson’s Dyson. Yes! I am the Chosen One, plucked from the obscurity of the production line to tend to my Maker’s every vacuuming need in his £43m Singapore penthouse suite.

He spends lots of time here now, which puzzles me a bit. After all, he must have been delighted when Brexit went his way. And if he’s right in saying ‘the UK will create more wealth and more jobs by being outside the EU than within it’, then why move his HQ to Singapore and cut 450 jobs in Wiltshire? Nothing to do with the looming risk of a no-deal Brexit, I’m sure.

Can you keep a secret? I think he’s homesick. He’ll get me out at 3 a.m. and vacuum all 21,108 marbled square feet while humming a gloomy ‘Jerusalem’. As my nan (a DC04 De Stijl limited edition) used to say: ‘be careful what you wish for, lest it come true…’