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Take all the power out of Westminster and give it to me

Artillery Row

The year is 2026.

The ecstasy of Labour in power is overwhelming and without end. The economy is booming, as investment in Green Tech transforms Britain into a New Jerusalem of Data and AI. The Skills drought has been transformed into the Skills flood, as the compulsory school leaving age is raised to 35, causing much consternation in Beijing and Moscow alike. Sir Keir Starmer’s approval rating has topped out at 94 per cent after he personally leads England to victory at two consecutive World Cups.

It didn’t take me long to find my feet in the New Britain. The Guardian Jobs Portal, that citadel of civilisation, had become a cornucopia of comfortable public sector sinecures in the aftermath of Starmer’s bold devolution plan. Spreading the burden of power from a democratically accountable Westminster to “local people” was a challenging task, but many stubby hands make light work.

My right to work from home was now legally enshrined

Not wishing to pigeonhole myself with a specific role, I found myself working as a “Stakeholder without Portfolio” for the Matlock regional Support Hub. My right to work from home was now legally enshrined, so I could abuse my veto to obstruct development well within the confines of the M25.


A Teams reminder interrupts my sleep. “Touchpoint with Greg Ellison, Dyson.” Fifteen minutes. I rise from bed slowly. It was the sort of summer afternoon that makes you feel guilty for not getting out of the house. A sticky, stale heat inside the house, the sun glowers as it sets against the horizon, taking with it the carefree frolicking and bronzed skin that might have been. I flick on the iPad to check the time. 

“3pm. Hmm. This Greg must know his stuff.” Between 3 and 3:30 is the golden half-hour for catching the attention of a stakeholder, after the late breakfast and the long lunch, just before the early clock off to pick up the kids. Dyson would be making use of one of the big public sector consultancies; FTI, Bain or Mckinsey. Business had been booming with the empowerment of the provincial civil servant. Clients would be charged a £24,000 fee for each stakeholder successfully aligned on a given proposal.

Business had become something of a lottery in Britain. Getting your proposal across the line was an arduous task, but the potential rewards were enormous. Any investment that could satisfy the stakeholders and show a “Commitment to Green” without “losing sight of Inclusion” would automatically qualify for untold billions in public spending distributed by municipal slush funds. Small businesses fell apart almost immediately, in stark contrast to the government’s ostensible commitment to “Getting Brits back on the Highstreet”. If you had the means, though, there was money to be made.

The stakes were high. Legend tells of a prodigious consultant at PWC who made partner in his second year after successfully coordinating local government, Green Groups, the National Trust, The Scottish Parliament and “Nanas against fracking” towards the construction of six starter homes on the edge of the “Oxford-Cambridge freeport” — the only new houses to be built in the country since the accession of Starmer. This inspirational tale had a most tragic ending: the Teams-induced stress culminated in his unfortunate suicide at the tender age of 23. 

I opt for a cup of tea to lift the mid-afternoon fog. Stakeholder consultation is a long, contemplative process, suited to the gentle caffeine lift of a PG tips. Save the Espressos and Flat Whites for the fast streamers with a chip on their shoulder and a point to prove. Plenty of milk complements the day’s biscuit of choice. My eyes flicker between the packet of hobnobs and a sleeve of Jaffa cakes in my cupboard. Hobnob. Jaffa Cake. Hobnob. Jaffa Cake. 

An impossible choice. Deciding to not let the perfect be the enemy of the good, I pick up both as a compromise.

I settle myself down on the comfy chair. Laptop lid up. Time for the routine to begin.

“Hi, Tim, now what I — ”

“OOOOOP. Oooop. Yeah, now why isn’t my camera working? Now let me, now, oops. Sorry, bear with, the IT is a bloody nightmare.” 

“It’s fine, as long as you can hear me and I can hear you, we can press on.”

“Don’t mind my sniffling. I’ve got that bug what’s been going round. Been feeling just, just drained since January. And I’ve done my test, yeah, my lateral flow, and it’s negative. But — ”

 “So let’s crack on with the Agenda.”

Sir Starmer planted the seeds of devolution in this tender garden of England

I’m quietly impressed. His deft navigation through my attempts at launching into irrelevant tangents to waste time in our meeting is expert. He must be public sector. I’d need to bring my A game — get him bogged down in “the bigger picture” quickly or we’d run the risk of having a fruitful discussion and (heaven forfend) make some concrete decisions.

 “Have you had a chance to look at the proposal for the factory, Tim?”

 “Ooop. Apologies, yeah, I’m afraid, yeah, in these challenging times, what with the pressures, I, I — ” 

“That’s alright, I’ll just get them up on the screen.” 

The glare of the white presentation slide dazzles me slightly, but my focus is unbroken.

“EDI,” I say. “Talk me through the commitment.” 

“We’ve consulted with the Derbyshire Diversity Hub.” 

He flicks over to the next slide. 

Their impact assessment states that we’ve taken a robust perspective on health inequalities.”

 “And climate?” 

“Every last inch of the ground has been surveyed in compliance with our biodiversity commitment. We found not a single frogspawn.”

 “Have you lost sight of Levelling Up?”

 “Never. We are building a ‘3G’ Pitch to bring together local communities around sport.”


I can see the sweat on Greg’s brow. His excitement is palpable, hands jittering. Five minutes left on the clock. He’s inches away.

“Now, Greg, could you repeat all of that for me, but in Welsh?” 

“Excuse me?”

“In Welsh, Greg. Or should I say, yn cymraeg.”

“But, but, but I don’t speak — ” 

“I’m sorry, Greg, but the updated Welsh Language Act of 2025 gives the public sector a specific legal responsibility to build towards that sense of togetherness. We are building a Union of Nations, Greg.” 

“I, I — ” 

 “I’m on your side, Greg, but I’m afraid this is out of my hands. You haven’t done your homework. You’ve lost sight of the Union. Goodbye, Greg. Nos Da.”

“Wait — ”

I shut my laptop lid, and peaceful silence returns. I abandon the cuppa, most unBritishly, reasoning that Greg’s brutish interruption of my sleep should be treated as a fitful interlude, not dignified as the beginning of the day. 

As I snuggle in under the covers with my packets of biscuits, I thank the voting public warmly for their show of faith in local government. I suppose it was inevitable that they would trust us with ever more responsibility and power, with our dazzling record of faithful public service: covering up systematic child abuse for decades and sanctioning whistle-blowers, choking off economic growth and financially enriching disruptive malcontents under the aegis of “community cohesion”. 

I am too possessed by my appetites to say grace before tucking in to my first (of many) sweet treats. If I had the patience to pray, though, it would be for the good health of Sir Keir Rodney Starmer. It was he who planted the seeds of devolution in this tender garden of England, from which a hundred thousand stakeholders bloomed.

For thine is the kingdom.

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