Ian Martin sketches out his Blueprint for Britain 2050
MONDAY To Manchester for the Tory conference. I’ve been appointed ‘roving consultant’ for the week, delivering platinum-level advice in accordance with EU Insights (Self-Certification) Directive 2010/76/EC at the usual fixed rate, plus travel and allowances for the North.
Let’s hope I don’t do anything to undermine my clients’ wholly admirable message of recovery and renewal.
TUESDAY Informal meeting of the Rebadging Task Force. Lots of new faces, all framed by CGI hair and evaporating moisturiser.
Timmy’s a wonka-loompa from Communities, charged with devising new strategies to tackle (ie punish) morbid pregnancy and promiscuous snacking among the economically challenged. Col’s been co-opted from Strivers, the nationwide chain of estate agents. Sarah’s from Rural Development and wears a badge saying ‘No To Labour’s Planning Red Tapers!’ Not only is it vacuous, it doesn’t even rhyme.
God, look at us. Smiling pleasantly at one another like the loathsome hypocrites we are. Still, as long as I remind myself that all party political monkey barrels are just as hideous, I can square it with my conscience. Whoever’s the client, my allegiance is pliant. I’m being artisan, not partisan. Shit, did I just say all that out loud? Must have. I get a fistbump from Col and a high-five near-miss from Sarah.
To business. We need to rebadge the Property Ladder. The whole concept now is ugly and old-fashioned, as well as philosophically complicated. As Big Mike from Future Thinking points out, ‘if you’re up an ACTUAL ladder, chances are you’re gonna vote UKIP anyway’. Ladders are intrinsically unsafe, unless someone’s at the bottom holding it steady and these days who do you trust? A nationalised bank? Your Dad?
Sarah chips in. ‘Either we’re saying people have their own personal property ladder, in which case I for one don’t want to spend MY entire life up one, wobbling with vertigo and needing the toilet. OR it’s a communal ladder, a national ladder. In which case, double eew. Everyone on the same ladder? What about the big guy above me who’s just lost his job with Hertfordshire County Council through no fault of his own but let’s face it local authorities need to cut back? How is he getting down the ladder without - eew - treading all over me? How am I moving UP the ladder without somehow climbing up HIM? Eew. No. I say Keep Calm And No More Ladders’.
We adjourn for a working brunch and power naps. By mid-afternoon we’ve rebadged the Property Ladder as the Debtscalator. You get on with plenty of room for emotional luggage and simply stand still, no climbing necessary, as the Debtscalator carries you and your property debt higher and higher. Plus, ‘please stand on the right’ is a useful motto.
WEDNESDAY Attend a briefing session, Redesigning Compassion, led by Iain Duncan Smith. Something about the need to redesign the basic concept of social justice, factoring in advertising space and floating shares in social justice on the open market, enabling ‘buy to let’ schemes and a new tier of affordable social justice for hard-working voters.
I can’t concentrate. It’s his cruel, scowling baldy head. In two years he’s gone from ovoid to globe. His face, once a pedimented egg, now belongs on the front of a Thomas the Tank Engine character. That sadistic one who always wants trains bricked up until they learn their lesson.
THURSDAY Armed with my notes from yesterday, I sketch out my Blueprint for Britain 2050.
Gleaming, futuristic community hospitals. A new generation of smart council houses stuffed with eco-prefixes. Centres of free education for the unemployed, humane…
‘What in the name of fuck is THIS?’ yells IDS, compassionately. With restrained hauteur, I tell him it’s his vision from yesterday. He was the one banging on about defending the NHS, the public sector, the poor…
‘DeFUNDED. Not defended, deFUNDED, you moron!’ For a second I think his head’s going to explode, but no such luck.
Memo to Self: check notes properly in future.
FRIDAY Final brainstorming session. How best to use the new army of welfare conscripts who’ll be required to ‘do community work’ in return for social security?
Ideas: constructing transit camps for themselves on the outskirts of cities, period extras in gated Downton-esque estates, personal shopping carriers.
SATURDAY Five-a-zeitgeist theoretical football. Tensile Occurrence 4, Retrospeculative Notionalism 2 after extra lunch.
SUNDAY Go meta in the recliner.
I mean, where’s the community spirit? If on the way to the shops everyone picked up just one piece of rubble, the world would be on its way to being a better place. Selfishness and a wilful lack of understanding. That’s what’s killing us.