Artillery Row

Desperate policies for desperate people

That Conservative policy platform in full

There have been suggestions that the Conservative election campaign is being run by someone who has a Brewster’s Millions-style bet that he can get the party below 50 seats. Cynics have pointed to the rain-soaked launch, the visit to the Titanic shipyard, and the fact to the initial letters of each sentence of Rishi Sunak’s speech spell out the message: “PLEASE JUST RELEASE US FROM THIS TORMENT.” 

But could this Sunday have been the moment the battle turned? Sunak’s dynamic “National Service” plan, announced in a message that in several ways didn’t resemble a hostage video, will see the roll-out of “compulsory volunteering” for teenagers, an idea that is bound to be wildly popular with people who aren’t involved. 

The Critic has its own crack team of 18-year-old “volunteers”, who have been working their way through some bags of shredded paper found outside Oliver Dowden’s house. It is thanks to them that we’re able to bring you advance sight of the rest of Sunak’s election manifesto, drawn up in conditions of strict secrecy under the codename “Operation Light Brigade”. 

  • Men compelled to wear hats and ties in public. 
  • A return to forelock-tugging and people addressing their social betters with the words “Beggin’ your pardon, sir.”
  • Every pub to have a Sid James.
  • Long shadows to be painted onto cricket grounds.
  • Bars mandated to offer a pint of mild for sixpence.
  • Unmarried women over 55 will have to travel by bicycle to communion (or equivalent faith activity) on any morning where mist restricts visibility below 100 yards.
  • Scotsmen to be dour.
  • Haitches to be dropped by everyone with three GCSEs or fewer.
  • Foreign names to be properly mispronounced. 
  • BBC newsreaders to wear dinner suits.
  • Railway public safety slogan to be re-recorded: “See it, say it, hang on a bleedin’ moment squire, sumfink’s queer ’ere.”
  • Waiters will no longer be allowed to ask what kind of day you’re having or how everything is.
  • Cinema: Romantic comedies to be limited to a single chaste kiss. Studios will only be allowed two technicolour films a year, to be either a musical or a war movie. Cuts of Dambusters which edit the dog’s name will be burned. The National Anthem to be played before and after every film. 
  • A body in every library.
  • Television: a Royal Commission will decide between returning to four TV channels or three. Breakfast television abolished. A return of the watershed and the Nine O’ Clock News, after which films that began at eight and were interrupted will suddenly become much raunchier. TV sets to have proper buttons and dials so that you can work them without a computer science degree.
  • Mice to live in clearly marked holes in skirting boards.
  • A national volunteer force will solve crimes. Murders will be handled by Belgian refugees, minor peers or elderly spinsters. On rare occasions they may also be solved by bookish young ladies who become much hotter when they take their glasses off, assisted by dashing young men. Other crimes, such as smuggling, piracy and the kidnap of foreign princesses will be handled by teams of four children, assisted by a dog. 
  • Criminals to be bearded foreigners with thick accents. 
  • Crimes planned by Englishmen will be fundamentally good-hearted japes in which no one is hurt.
  • Uniformed police will be retasked to focus on haplessly chasing rosy-cheeked scamps away from orchards.
  • Freshly-baked pies to be left on windowsills.
  • Women to giggle playfully when sexually harassed by Sean Connery.
  • Teachers to be instructed in proper use of canes, and importance of ignoring books stuffed down trousers.
  • Shirts will be tucked in and ties will be compulsory. Men will be required to use collar studs, once we’ve established what they’re for, and leather elbow patches. Polo shorts only to be worn while playing polo.
  • Sock-darning will be compulsory.
  • Smoking will no longer cause cancer and doctors will be allowed to endorse cigarette brands again.
  • Red wine with fish will damned well tell us something.
  • Yorkshire to be a county again.
  • Every unmarried mother will be issued with an older disapproving neighbour who will eventually soften and reveal that she too once had her heart broken by a cad.
  • Projector screens and comfortable seats to be removed from churches, and copies of Hymns Ancient and Modern restored to pews. Hymn numbers will be comically rearranged annually.
  • No Sunday trading. Grocery deliveries will come by bicycle. Reintroduction of milk floats and door-to-door delivery in glass bottles that the birds have pecked.
  • Cars will have proper headlamps, running boards, and a space on the back to strap a trunk. Fan belts to be repaired with stockings. 
  • A return to sugar rationing.
  • All television advertising must feature a jingle.
  • British space programme to be aesthetically stylish with rockets fuelled by corks from crackpot boffin’s extraordinary new sparkling “English wine”.
  • Repatriation of Americans.
  • Trains will run on steam again, or coal, or whatever it was. 
  • Breaking news to happen monthly, either in print or newsreel.
  • Foxhunting to be compulsory.
  • Kippers for breakfast.
  • Only sailors will have tattoos, and only women will have piercings, and then only once per ear.
  • Thermostats to be turned down.
  • Constantinople not Istanbul, likewise Peking, Calcutta and Burma.
  • Beer will be warm and safe to drive on. 
  • Schools to teach the descant in Oh Come All Ye Faithful.
  • Wearing glasses will be taken as a reliable sign of intelligence.
  • Handshakes not hugs.
  • Bring back proper metal bins.
  • And whistling chimney sweeps.
  • Foreigners to stop pretending they don’t understand English.

With an election platform like this, it’s hard to see how the Tories can fail. Though that does depend very much what you think their goal is.

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