Recently there have been signs that the population at large is experiencing a significant level of “Disconnect” from the media, chattering and political classes. People watch the infighting between one politician and another and shake their heads before returning to the crossword of the day or, as a last resort, paying some attention to their paid occupations.
I spotted an opportunity provided by this vacuum of interest and decided to put myself forward as a candidate for Mayor of my local city, which position includes a salary and use of an overlarge chauffeur driven car. The only flaw I could see in this bold enterprise was, apart from myself and my goldfish Jessica, no one knew who I was, but I had a plan which would get me past that difficulty. Our city is largely a Labour stronghold, and the party candidate for Mayor, the papers told us, was a certain Allen Whitelaw. Fair enough, good name and a respectable party. The candidate would be advertised on the ballot paper as A. Whitelaw (Lab).
I strolled down to the local registry office and changed my name from C. Duck to Alfred Whitelaw. As we know, on a strictly alphabetical basis, Alfred comes before Allen in the list, and as we would have the same surname I would come just before him in ballot listing. I then formed a party called “Labouring Furniture Party” which would be entered as (Lab) on the ballot papers.
The heart of life is that few people are as interested in their jobs as they are in discovering what’s on offer for the evening meal, or if that nice person who smiled at you in the accounts department was just being polite or expressing a possible moment of connection between their life and yours. As for the person or persons unknown to me but charged with processing the paperwork for those putting themselves forward for the office of Mayor, little is of interest to them so long as the prospective candidate has washed recently enough not to introduce body odour into the surprisingly small cubicle where they spend their day.
Name changed and candidature for office registered, I decided to go back home, open up a packet of chocolate biscuits and await the election results. These were some weeks away, but with no spare funds for leaflets, energy for door knocking or interest in policy it seemed pointless to attempt any further engagement with the disinterested electorate until the night when the results would be announced.
Following an unusually low turnout of fifty-seven percent, and after several recounts, I was elected to the office of Mayor by a majority of three votes more than the bewildered Allen Whitelaw. I remember the other candidates staring at me and wondering who I was, while I concentrated on the free coffee and sandwiches. Once the formalities were complete my official car drove up to the town hall to transport me back to my lodgings.
The weekend papers covered the results, obviously, and there was considerable outrage expressed over the fact that some scruff from the outskirts of town, with no credentials or previous political involvements, should have achieved high office through, as one paper termed it, “A Devious Sleight Of Hand.” I’m not one to duck a compliment, so I will not argue with that description of my conduct. “Can This Be Legal?” screamed a Fleet Street heavyweight newspaper, possibly relieved to have the attention diverted from its own scurrilous phone tapping antics. In short, few if anybody apart from me and Jessica, saw anything positive in the result but that changed as soon as I walked into the offices on Monday morning.
I informed all staff that no desks were to be manned on a Friday afternoon, at which time all employees should present themselves at the local ten-pin bowling alley where the words “Spin” and “Curve” could be examined in a non-political context. Within days, staff were telling the baffled members of the press that I was “A breath of fresh air” and “Just what was needed to put this city on the map.”
“Parking fines cancelled” and “Free custard powder for old-age pensioners” got some positive coverage and I wondered how I could continue this policy of generosity and understanding to one and all, thus almost guaranteeing my successful election for a second term.
Some say this level of spending is unsustainable but I plan to take a leaf out of central government’s books and take out “Gilts” or loans against council assets, sure in the knowledge that any difficulties generated by this internationally favoured policy will only surface sometime after I have retired from politics.