Come with me on a journey to a happier place. A magical world that’s as close as your imagination. Join me, if you can, in Borisland.
We were taken there on Wednesday by the prime minister, as he closed the Conservative conference with a speech that was magnificent in its refusal to engage with the world as it is.
The speech was preceded by a video montage of the last two years, put together using what we must assume is the “Michael Bay” effect on iMovie: surging music, explosive noises, sweeping camera movements. Boris Johnson in slow motion stomping purposefully through the corridors of Downing Street, Boris Johnson crashing a digger through a wall of polystyrene bricks, Boris Johnson hiding in a fridge to avoid questions (actually, that bit got cut). In this version, the prime minister is played by Nicolas Cage, or perhaps Will Smith. Bad Boys IV: Shit Just Got Realer.
Except that, as the prime minister began to speak, it became clear that reality was not going to be making an appearance. Outside the conference hall, there were fights about benefit cuts, rising fuel bills, shortages on shelves, culls of pigs. But inside, we were taken on a tour of an idyllic land of plenty, ruled over by a wise and just prime minister, known perhaps as the Just Leader, or the Beloved Helmsman.
In Borisland, everything is going brilliantly. In Borisland, it’s not just that you don’t queue for petrol, the garage brings the petrol to your door! But you don’t need it! Because your car runs on electricity! With a range of 1,000 miles! At a cost of 10p!
In Borisland, everyone has a house close to work, so that they can go into the office, as the Beloved Helmsman says they should. But they also have fast broadband so that they can work from home, increasing productivity, which the Beloved Helmsman says is their moral duty. The Beloved Helmsman sees no contradiction here, and he is all-wise.
In Borisland, your wife and your mistress help each other out with the babysitting
The homes of Borisland are built without planning fights, arranged around village greens, each with their own maypole. The children of Borisland are cheeky scamps, scrumping apples until they’re caught by the village bobby and sent on their way with a gentle clip around the ear. In Borisland, your wife and your mistress help each other out with the babysitting.
In Borisland, the Conservatives love the England football team, recognising them as national heroes. The cameras in the hall did not cut to Priti Patel at this point to see if she was booing, or to Lee Anderson, to see if he was covering his eyes.
In Borisland, the Beloved Helmsman guided the country through Covid with a skillful touch, resisting the blandishments of those who wanted multiple lockdowns. Do you recall things differently? Is there a vague image in your mind of a shopping trolley-like government swerving from side to side? Do you have the idea that people at the top of government broke their own lockdown rules, or that a lot of people died? The Beloved Helmsman assures us it is not so. Thanks be to the Beloved Helmsman.
In Borisland taxes are currently going up, but only as a route to going down
Let us be honest, friends. Borisland is not without problems. Hospital waiting lists are getting longer. There are inequalities. Not everyone currently enjoys the advantages that Borisland has to offer. This is because of the wicked Conservative government that ruled the country for the last decade. But under the benevolent Conservative government of the Beloved Helmsman, crooked paths will be made straight, the lowly levelled up.
In Borisland taxes are low, or they will be. They are currently going up, but only as a route to going down. Wise is the Beloved Helmsman.
There are threats to Borisland, of course. No, no, not inflation. Not Covid. Not worker shortages. No, the great danger in Borisland is that people will blaspheme against the name of the Beloved Helmsman’s mighty ancestor, the Blessed Winston Churchill. Beware, oh beware, people of Borisland, the blandishments of those who call for nuanced readings of history! The only history is the Big Ladybird Book Of Churchill, as written by the Beloved Helmsman himself (£4.99 with a bottle of water in WH Smith, chapter on Stalingrad not to be taken literally).
In the hall, they lapped it up, mostly. The cabinet, aware of the cameras on them, smiled and nodded. They must know none of them could deliver this kind of reaction among the party faithful. Elderly ladies in the back row giggled as Johnson talked of “beavers” and the telecoms companies that “thrust the fibre-optic vermicelli in the most hard to reach places”.
Not all of it delighted the Tories. The early section on the need for tax rises to fund the NHS was heard in a silence that clearly unnerved the prime minister. A paragraph on the things that money was buying, which would have been met with a standing ovation at Labour conference, left them cold. He began to accelerate to get to something they could cheer, only reaching it when he got to an attack on “needless bureaucracy”, a problem that still afflicts Borisland, but will be stamped out by the Beloved Helmsman, leaving behind only strictly necessary bureaucracy.
But most of the speech stayed firmly in the centre of the bucolic paradise of Borisland, where your pint glass is always half-full, and the sun shines on village cricketers who are 30 runs from victory, six wickets in hand.
And then the speech was over, and we poured out onto the streets of Manchester. Protestors were shouting about something. Clouds had appeared in the sky. Intractable problems were piling up around the government. It’s not hard to see why some people prefer to live in Borisland.
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