The only way is up

It’s narrow, man, a narrow path to victory


This article is taken from the February 2024 issue of The Critic. To get the full magazine why not subscribe? Right now we’re offering five issues for just £10.

“Let me be me!” Rishi is very excited, because he says this is the year he gets a “mandate”. This isn’t a word I’ve heard before, but I think it must mean when people ask you to stop being prime minister.

He is having a meeting with his friend James, who used to write nice things about us in The Times, and his other friend Isaac, who has a big beard and tells us nice things about numbers.

“There’s this path,” Isaac is saying. “I’ve seen it.”

“Is it the path to victory?” Rishi asks.

“Yeah, man. Or to something else. I don’t remember. But I saw it in this wild vision I had. It was right there.” He reaches out in front of him.

There’s a route to victory, and the only way is up

“What was it like?” James asks, taking notes.

“Oh man, it was so beautiful. You know when sometimes you just understand how the whole universe fits together? Like, how everyone is just part of this giant heartbeat of love, experiencing itself over and over again? It was like that.”

“Right,” says Rishi, a little uncertain. “But tell us about the path.”

“Oh wow, yeah, the path. It’s narrow, man, a narrow path.”

James is sending a message on his phone. “Narrow path,” he says. “Got it. Anything else?”

“And steep. So steep. It was like a narrow, steep path, up a mountain. And it was rocky. And there were huge man-eating sharks on it. And that’s the path you’ve got to take.” He shakes his head and suddenly snaps back into focus. “Got to go. Meeting another client. Here’s my invoice. Usual terms.”

After he’s gone, Akshata comes in. “What did he say?”

“Lots of good stuff,” Rishi tells her. “There’s a route to victory, and the only way is up.”

“We’ve done some of our own polling,” James adds, “and the good news is that people say they don’t really like Starmer. They’re just planning to vote for him because they hate us.”

“Exactly!” says Rishi, “So once they get to know me, all that will change!” He walks out with a big smile on his face. James is still looking a bit worried, but Akshata seems calm. She sits down and begins reading a pamphlet about something called the Santa Monica school system.

“It’s alright,” she tells James. “Let him be him.”

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