The Games People Play
She put the stopper back gently onto the crystal decanter and pensively swirled the Balvenie single malt around the heavy-bottomed glass. Behind her two male advisors sat either side of her large desk. The younger of the two, his tie still gate- post straight even though it was now nearly midnight, tapped his pencil repeatedly on the banker’s light, clearly annoying his older colleague who was typing and quietly swearing at his mobile phone.
‘Must you?’ Said the older man.
‘What?’ Came the testy reply.
She walked past and placed a calming hand on the younger man’s shoulder. It was an indication to stop. She carried on walking all the way to the window, looked down on the church quiet street below and took a small sip of her drink.
‘People are asking too many detailed questions.’ She said, in a way that suggested it had been repeated an awful lot that evening. ‘We either give answers we’re hostage to, or we get them to ask different questions.’
‘Agreed.’ Said the older man, ‘we need more noise.’
‘We’re doing what we can.’ Said his colleague. ‘The usual friends are on message, but people want some meat on the bones now.’ He tapped his pencil again, drawing a sharp look from the other.
‘The Easter unity message didn’t work, I’m afraid.’ He said, not taking his eyes off the pencil. ‘It reminded people of ‘We’re all in this together.’
‘The Daily Express too, their ‘EU agencies leaving the UK is a punishment thing’. That backfired.’
‘Why?’ She asked.
‘Nobody reads The Daily Express.’
‘Well if flag-waving unity doesn’t work…’ She said slowly as she walked back to the desk and sat down, ‘Let’s try disharmony, get people shouting again. Let’s stop thinking we can heal the wounds, let’s open the wounds wider.’
‘Brilliant!’ Said the older man.
‘Brilliant!’ Agreed the younger. ‘What shall we call it?’ he said, already excited.
‘We’ll call it…’ she paused, looking into her raised glass like it predicted the future, ‘we’ll call it, Unity.’
‘Brilliant.’ They both repeated.
Maybe Lulu the hen saw it all coming. Famously there was an octopus who had a pretty good run of predicting results at the World Cup in 2014, well likewise, in a blinding light of political soothsaying, Lulu saw a UK General Election looming and thought, ‘Sod that! I’m off!’ I found her propped up at an awkward angle, like an old three wheel car that had been tipped over at the side, her eyes glazed over. She was very clearly dead. There’d been no sign of it, no obvious illness, in fact just the day before she had attacked me for disturbing her mid-afternoon siesta, normal behaviour for Lulu. The curse of Easter and 1960s related hen naming pop culture had struck again and the portents weren’t good.
In the film version of Rudyard Kipling’s novella The Man Who Would Be King, the natives of Sikandergul begin to suspect Daniel Dravot is a false God when hens die and cows go dry, so the writing as far as Lulu was concerned was on the wall. Though I can’t honestly speak for the cows. In 21st century politics you know things are heading southwards when David Davis’ statements get more ludicrous and Amber Rudd seriously suggests something called a ‘Barista Visa.’ Davis thinks that EU agencies currently in the UK, the EMA and the EBA could yet remain, they will be part of the negotiations, he said. No. No they won’t. Why would the EU provide jobs and services to a country no longer in the EU? You can’t rescind your membership of the RAC and still expect them to fix your car. The man is just plain batty.
The latest industry to insist on separate immigration rules, hospitality, could be given their own visas, according to Rudd’s Home Office. Young people could come and work as a waiter or something and, er, that’s it. No other job, don’t look for a promotion. Don’t meet someone and fall in love either, this is a route solely to menial, poorly paid hospitality jobs. Nothing else. No future, because you’re not welcome. It’s a servant visa, in other words, and about as enticing as, well as a lifetime of servitude. And people, it seems, weren’t really falling for it anymore. Why separate visas again? They asked. Surely we would lose the EU agencies? They queried. It’s unrealistic not to, isn’t it? What’s really happening? Murmurs were beginning. There were rumblings in the cheap seats.
Sometimes, when a gig isn’t going all that well, you need to change gear and do something about it in order to win the audience back. You can try the ‘one liner’ approach, throw in a few quick fire gags and see if you can win them back that way, in this instance farcical nonsense from the Brexit minister and the friendly press. Or, and this is my favoured technique, divide and conquer. Go into them, pick on someone and unite the audience behind you and against a common enemy, probably a bloke in a hat indoors in my case, or outrageous knitwear. This is the option Theresa May has gone for, a General Election. Divide and conquer.
It’s very clever. She has said, and repeatedly said, as have her colleagues, repeatedly said, that there wouldn’t be a snap general election, so to throw a snap General Election is a pretty smart play. But then of course, it isn’t a play. She’s not playing games at all. This is her stopping the others from playing games, the ‘enemies of the people’, to stop them from stopping Brexit. Even though not one piece of legislation has been stopped or amended yet by these so-called ‘saboteurs’, and nor will it be. No concessions were made on the Article 50 Bill and Parliament’s consent isn’t needed for the final Brexit deal, whatever that might be. This isn’t about enemies without. If the Conservatives win handsomely, as the polls suggest, then she’s likely to lose Corbyn as an opposition leader; and that’s not something you’d give up lightly.
There have been suggestions that this definitely means a Hard Brexit, but then there have also been suggestions that this paves the way for a Soft Brexit. The former because a strong mandate, with the Prime Minister’s own authority no longer in question, means that she can do what the Hell she wants. And a Soft Brexit because with a vastly increased Parliamentary majority, currently that majority is nine, she will no longer be beholden to some of the more extreme voices in her own party. And also it makes it clear to some of the more romantic elements in Europe itself that Brexit is now definitely happening so there’s no point being punishing in the negotiations and hoping the UK will change its mind, because it won’t. Or it means that the EU will definitely be punishing in the negotiations because it realises that the UK has backed itself into a corner and can’t go anywhere. So, what is for certain then and which goes to underline exactly what has been obvious since the day after the vote in June last year, is that nobody knows nuttin’.
‘It’s time to stop playing politics like it’s a game.’ Said Mrs May in her statement, rolling a dice across a board marked, ‘Politics is Definitely a Game’. ‘It’s time for unity.’ She said, dropping a hand grenade down the mineshaft of togetherness. It’s time the opposition united, like the rest of the country, she thundered, while completely ignoring the opposition and putting governance on hold in order to get stronger control of her own party. Theresa May is adamant she doesn’t play games, while at the same time acting like a small town pool hustler.
So, here we go again. The madness will be cranked back up on all sides, and the finger pointing and cat-calling will be like a particularly rough episode of Jeremy Kyle. The same doubts will persist, the same personal uncertainties for millions of people will still be there, and the same clock ticks away in the background like a bomb needing to be defused. Oh and all that is assuming that Le Pen doesn’t win the French election and throw everything into further disarray. Right now Lulu’s way out looks like being a very sensible move indeed.
Thank you so much for reading this. Can I ask you to share it in any way you can too? It will hopefully form part of my third book; a book that was finished last Monday. Then Wednesday happened! But the more RTs and sharing and word of mouth involved the better chance it has.
My other books are available in all good bookshops and Amazon. (Not that Amazon isn’t a good bookshop but, oh hang it, you know what I mean.)