Nova’s diary: Everything’s different now

Rishi is helping our neighbour, Big Jeremy, with his sums

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

You forgot to carry the one.” Rishi is helping our neighbour, Big Jeremy, with his sums. In a couple of weeks, he has to do something called the Budget, where he stands in the street with a red case and everyone takes pictures of him. He’s very worried about questions.

“Thanks Rishi,” he says. “But what does debt-to-GDP mean again?”

“Don’t worry. No one’s going to ask you about that. The only people worse at maths than MPs are journalists. Well, except for Evan Davis, but we’ve told the police to shoot if they see him within 100 yards of you.”

Akshata is looking at their plan. “But guys,” she says, “wasn’t it cutting taxes that got Liz Truss into such trouble?”

Rishi and Big Jeremy look up.

“Don’t get me wrong,” Akshata goes on. “Now we’ve decided I should pay taxes for a bit, I’m all in favour of cutting them. But I don’t see why it was bad for her to do it, but it won’t be bad for you to do it.”

“It’s completely different,” begins Rishi. “Liz was cutting taxes because she was deluded. Whereas I’m cutting taxes because I think it’ll turn the polls around.”

“But it didn’t do that when you tried it last year.”

“Ah, well, no. But that was because people thought it was a little pre-election bribe.”

“And what will they think it is this time?”

“A really large pre-election bribe.”

Big Jeremy stands up to leave. “Also,” he says, as he goes to the door, “we’re not actually going to cut taxes. That’s the clever bit! We’ll just say we are. So we keep everyone happy.”

After he’s gone, Akshata speaks quietly to Rishi: “Are you sure about Jeremy? I thought you wanted to get Claire in?”

“I did,” Rishi sighs, “but I think we’re stuck with him. He’s very plausible, so long as he doesn’t have to talk about the economy.”

Akshata puts her hand on Rishi’s knee. “Darling, what will you do if this doesn’t make any difference?”

“But it will! No Tory prime minister has ever gone wrong cutting taxes.”

“Except Liz.”

“Yes. But people thought her Chancellor was nuts.”

“So what did she do?”

“She got Jeremy in.”

“Did that help?”

“No. But everything’s completely different now.”

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