13 June 2019
From around the world.
By Neil Tidmarsh
There’s been a global glut of elections recently, so here are some tips from the rest of the world for all those Tory party Big Beasts fighting that leadership battle (and especially for the winner who will almost certainly be fighting a general election in the very near future):
(1) Change the name of our capital from “London” to “Theresa”.
It seems to have worked in Kazakhstan. Interim president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev renamed Astana, the country’s capital, as “Nur-Sultan” in honour of the outgoing president Nursultan Nazarbayev who resigned unexpectedly a few months ago. Mr Tokayev was then spectacularly successful in the presidential elections held this week.
Hang on a second, though. Unlike our outgoing leader, the outgoing and autocratic Mr Nazarbayev had held onto power for almost three decades and even in retirement he holds the title “Leader of the Nation”, retains the power to veto policies, is still head of the security council and remains leader of the ruling party. And he appointed Mr Tokayev as the interim president. And could he have had anything to do with Mr Tokayev’s victory this week, in elections against opponents who were little-known and hand-picked, and which many protestors (hundreds were detained) said were rigged?
No, I don’t suppose poor old Mrs May could guide her successor to such a victory even if Maidenhead, let alone London, was renamed after her.
(2) So, how about proposing the following policies:
Capping the voting age at 66; invading, say, Iceland; testing cosmetics and drugs on elite athletes (who, after all, are used to it); linking corporate salaries to the executive’s bra size; introducing an allowance for attractive young mothers (paid for by curbing pensions).
It seemed to work in Germany. Die Partei – the political party proposing these policies – won just under a million votes and two parliamentary seats in the European elections. That’s more votes than the SNP or Ukip in the UK. That’s almost one in every forty votes, and includes eight percent of the youth vote and five percent of votes in Berlin. Die Partei has 31,000 members, which makes it bigger than Alternative for Germany.
(Ok, I’m joking. It doesn’t really propose invading Iceland – I put that in for the UK hustings. It proposes invading Luxembourg.)
In fact, party members and supporters and voters can choose their own policies; the party’s “manifesto generator” enables everyone to tailor an individual package to suit their own unique set of beliefs and demands. The ultimate vote-winner, surely.
But, you say, none of this counts because Die Partei is a satirical party (it was founded five years ago by the Private Eye-esque Titanic publication). And of course you’re right – we can all agree that British politics is beyond satire these days, so Die Partei, sadly, can’t help us.
(3) So, how about something a little more traditional…
In Thailand, the parliament elected General Prayuth Chan-ocha as prime minister earlier this week, even though his party came second in the general elections two months ago. How? Well, since the election, one of the biggest opposition parties has defected to the General’s side. Why? Well, according to The Times, one MP claims that he was offered 120 million baht (£3 million) to change sides. And the leader of the opposition group has been suspended (something to do with alleged illegal something or other, share holdings etc etc, or something).
Carrot and stick? Well, I think such suggestions are a bit old-hat to be of any use. Quite apart from insulting to the General. Instead, what won the day for him may well have been his pop-songs and the way he uses them to get his message across to the people. The new prime minister is a talented and prolific song-writer (see Singing Malware, Shaw Sheet issue 192, 07 March 2019) – perhaps it was this ability to match heart-warming lyrics to catchy tunes which won him the hearts and minds of all those MPs and secured him the prime-ministership. The pop song which he released just prior to last March’s general elections was his eighth and perhaps his finest. It was called New Day and was sung by an officer and a non-commissioned officer from his army:
“Thailand’s new day is coming to refresh our hearts / Let us fix the disappointing past / A day when we have to combine our powers / Don’t let anyone come in and hurt Thailand / Thailand’s new day will be brilliant when everyone proudly performs their duty…”
So there you go, Boris, Michael, Rory, Matt, Andrea, Sajid, Dominic, Esther, Jeremy and Mark; match that masterpiece and victory is assured.
But don’t be too down-hearted if you lose – after all, the General installed himself as dictator in 2014 via a military coup d’état – so that’s always an option of last resort, isn’t it?