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A Man of a Few More Words - by Swan Morrison

Change You Can Believe In

The newly elected British Prime Minister gazed from a Downing Street window at the gigantic, yellow plastic duck that towered above all London’s buildings.

He recalled a time when politicians had ideologies to promote and cared passionately about issues of the day. Gradual changes of attitude had occurred until the expenses scandal of 2009 awakened the public realisation that politicians had become amoral and self-serving.

Political statements had become simply contrived arguments aimed at attributing any negative event to a rival. Without a moral or ideological compass, personal gain had become the primary objective of British politicians.

Voter frustration and cynicism drove election turn-outs to the lowest ever recorded.

It was in this climate, and on the eve of a mid-term parliamentary election, that three factors contributed to Nigel Smith, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Snodbury West, changing the course of British politics.

The first was his reading of a Monster Raving Loony Party manifesto. The second was certainty that he had no prospect of becoming elected. Finally, he was distraught when he learned of his wife’s affairs with both the Labour and Conservative candidates.

Despite these influences, Nigel was never totally sure what had driven him to commit his party in a television interview to providing, if elected, a lifetime supply of free custard to all Snodbury residents.

Next day, the local Party and the national leadership faced a political dilemma. Should they condemn Nigel for making stupid statements that brought the Party into disrepute, or should he be applauded on his election to Parliament with one hundred percent of the Snodbury West vote on a one hundred percent voter turnout?

There quickly followed another mid-term election for the London Borough of Westford, and again the Liberal Democrats had no expectations of victory. Emboldened by Nigel’s surrealist success, however, the candidate championed the removal of all the Borough’s road signs.

This second landslide victory confirmed the mood of the British public. All interest had been lost in traditional politics, but the British sense of comic irony remained, and votes could be guaranteed for the most silly manifesto pledge.

As the General Election approached, amorality and self-interest made it easy for parliamentary candidates to cease campaigning on social, economic and security issues in favour of increasingly bizarre and pointless follies.

Labour’s plan to paint all grass pink proved popular, as did the Conservative proposal to build a ladder to the moon - it was going to be a close run contest. Then Nigel formulated his masterstroke of political and comic genius – the Liberal Democrats would honour their manifesto commitments!

Convoys of custard tankers arrived in Snodbury. Traffic ground to a halt in Westford.

Other parties argued it unfair and contrary to parliamentary tradition to take seriously promises to the electorate, but public support was won. The Liberal Democrat election slogan, ‘Insane Ideas, Implemented!!!’, was something in which the people could finally believe.

Even the closure of schools and hospitals by the former government to fund The London Duck could not save them from defeat.

Nigel Smith, Britain’s first Liberal Democrat Prime Minister, turned from the window of Number Ten and donned two large ears and a tail to complete his kangaroo costume. Politics had indeed changed, he reflected as he hopped to the door and into the street where the media awaited the delivery of his inaugural stand-up routine to the Nation.