“The problem with our mainstream image,” began Harry Ra’Basche, pacing the floor of the United Liberation Party’s communications room, whilst casting a casually inconspicuous glance into Sam’s low-cut blue dress, “is that every time we make any headway with the popular press, some silly councillor I’ve barely heard of shoots his mouth off about hating women, loving Hitler, or wanting to beat up a Muslim, and that’s all they report for the next week.”
“We need two things right now. One: an official list of what these local limelight-lovers can and cannot say. I mean seriously, no more bloody Hitler references. I don’t care how good he was at public speaking; and Two: a huge positive talking point – one that will run and run, that instigates the kind of debate other parties wouldn’t dare to, but one that the British public and press will take up like a beacon.”
“Mr Ra’Basche,” wailed the intercom, “Mr Morrison has arrived.”
“Ahh brilliant. That’s Daniel, he’s here to help with number two – you’ll love him. Back in a tick.”
As the full-of-himself party leader swept out of the former recording studio, Sam, his PR Manager was desperately trying not to squirm in her seat. Seemingly oblivious to her discomfort, the room’s other occupant began picking apart the blueberry muffin he had been eyeing up for the last five minutes.
After three long weeks of policy structure and manifesto planning Chris almost didn’t quite know what to do himself. Having plundered the annals of – mainly Tory – history, the pair of them had managed to appropriate everything they needed to deliver the Party’s September manifesto. They had come up with plenty of their own ideas too, of course, but for tax, health, transport and a litany of other policies… re-inventing the wheel was not on the agenda.
Sam stared intently at Chris, waiting for him to take less of an interest in putting crumb-covered blueberries in his mouth one at a time. Unfortunately, it appeared to be a very good muffin. And so after a few minutes the now red faced, tiny blonde PR specialist leapt out of her chair and made for the door. After making sure it was well and truly closed, she rounded on the intercom and flicked it off, just to be sure.
“Does he know how much work we’ve done?” she said just a touch too loud, “he must be drunk, he has to be. It’s barely 4.00pm.”
“How do you take something up like a beacon?” returned Chris, now picking dazedly at the muffin and barely acknowledging the conversation he was actually joining in with.
“What? Daniel Morrison is about to take a big red pen to the manifesto and he’s likely being paid bloody millions to do so. Ra’Basche is drunk, he has to be drunk.”
“What a bum…” said Chris, vaguely now holding his half eaten muffin in the air and staring blankly through Sam, into space.
Daniel Morrison is American, exceedingly brash and probably a little too right wing, even by Harry Ra’Basche’s exceptional standards. Originally hailing from a small town in West Texas, the Harvard Law graduate has spent the last twenty years lobbying for some of the most far right bills ever unleashed on the House of Representatives. He has overseen the successful elections of the Tea Party’s most colourful candidates and also the man behind the plan to place 100,000,000 ‘semi-non-lethal’ anti-personnel mines along the entire US – Mexico border. Even in Britain, he is certainly not to be trifled with.
“He’s going to want to build a wall isn’t he?” began Chris slowly, recreating a Hadrian-esque-affair in the air, with the muffin and his hands. “A really big one – right on the south coast – with big ramparts for lobbing people back off into Europe.”
“He’s going to be my boss – yours too most likely. What does he know about British politics?”
“Maybe he can just pretend Europe’s Mexico until he finds his feet?”
Just as Sam was about to round on Chris for his sudden lack of understanding of the Party, Ra’Basche re-entered the room. He was followed by a small fellow with shocking red hair, gimlet blue eyes and a pair of burgundy cowboy boots which added two extra inches to his naturally low stature. Sam choked back her need to run away or say something and stuck on a cheery grin – yet maintained a steady strawberry hue.
“Chris, Sam, this is Daniel Morrison. I’m sure his reputation precedes him.”
“Hi gang,” he said, flashing an ear-to-ear grin and a non-too-subtle glance into Sam’s dress.
Sam hated him instantly but was torn as she desperately wanted to impress her new boss.
“Look guys,” he continued, “you’ve done a great job, an absolute blinder. You’ve driven the ball 95 yards downfield… and now I’m going to walk it home for you.”
Sam, who didn’t have a clue what he was talking about did her best to look more professional and less pink. She was not successful. And as Morrison’s mouth flapped up and down, in her head, she imagined many heavy things falling on his.
“Here’s the plan,” he opined, clearly oblivious to the litany of imaginary safes, walruses and kitchen sinks that were crashing down on him. “The week before we launch the manifesto, we unveil one of our key issues. Bringing back the death penalty.”
“The death penalty?” replied Sam sitting up straight and employing her poshest English accent. “Don’t you think that might be a bit of a wedge issue?” As Chris opened his mouth to emphatically agree, a grim snarl reared up from behind Morrison’s perma-fixed bright-white grin and made him instantly reconsider.
“Of course it’s going to be a wedge issue. It’s going to be the most brilliant wedge issue you’ve ever seen. I’ve done the polling – over 90% of your supporters are for it. This isn’t going to drive your voters away… it’s going to bring you more.”
“You’ve already taken the BNP vote – brought a load of Tories over. Hell, even some of the old socialists like the cut of your jib. Now you’re going to get the ‘tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime’ bunch as well. Thousands upon thousands of Conservative voters just begging to come along for the ride of their lives. It’s going to be epic.”
At this point Ra’Basche leapt into the arena – he was positively beaming and almost doing a cheerful Kentish jig on the balls of his well-heeled feet:
“We’ll drive back the non-Brits,
Give our boys employment-kits,
And really thwack the topic of crime,
We’ll punch ’em with our horse sense,
Launch a rhetoric offence,
And halve the ruddy number doing time:
Those Reds have got something to fear:
The ULP is standing here,
Next May is looking rather sublime!”
And with that he made for the small Huskie fridge in the corner of the room and extracted four 500ml bottles of London Pride. After 50 long years, the death penalty was back on the table.
Song: Hang ’em High
People scared to walk at night time
No respect for rule of law
A golden age has disappeared
You didn’t have to lock your door
Hang ‘em high, a fine solution
Hang ‘em high is the card to play
Hang ‘em high starts a revolution
To heal Great Britain in a really clever way
There’ll be no more fear or violence on the stately city streets
There’ll be no more overcrowding in the many cosy jails
There’ll be no more disrespecting of the good old British plod
‘Cos the hangman will return like a masked and vengeful God
See his mask of brilliant leather
Watch him float like Pierrepoint’s ghost
A fiery right wing status symbol
A justice superhero and a courteous host
Hang ‘em high it’s not smoke and mirrors
Hang ‘em high it’s not rhetoric
Hang ‘em high for the manifesto
There’ll be dead men dancing off to meet Old Nick
There’ll be no more disobedience once a few necks have been stretched
There’ll be no more big time offenders if they know what’s coming next
It’s a truly brilliant wheeze to keep you all in line
So keep clear of vice, and try to be nice
Or they’ll part your neck and spine
When they hang you high, hang you, hang you high
When they hang you high, hang you high