This week I was delighted to hear that Al Murray, the Pub Landlord, is going to be a candidate in the forthcoming general election. The beer-drinking, jingoistic buffoon, nostalgic for a Britain that never really existed, is standing in South Thanet in direct competition with Nigel Farage.
Now that’s funny! Holding up a fairground mirror to a man with a face that already looks like it’s a reflection in a fairground mirror. Not only is it a dazzling PR stunt to promote Murray’s tour or DVD, but it’s genuinely satirical. Nigel Farage has essentially nicked Murray’s act, so it’s only fair that he gets some revenge.
The Pub Landlord’s policies include bricking up the Channel Tunnel and fighting Germany if they’re up for it. They’re ridiculous, but not really that much more ridiculous than the genuine ‘policies’ (if you can call them that) of Ukip.
It’s been hard to criticise Ukip, because if anyone is negative about them the Kippers will claim to be the oppressed, underdog victim (a racist bully at my school used to use the same tactic). But it’s much harder for them to deal with Murray. They have to try to laugh it off or look like they can’t take a joke. And Farage, that ex-public school, former commodity trader, descendant of German immigrants, man-of-the-people needs to be able to look like he can take a joke.
In all likelihood Murray will get 200 votes, beat the Lib Dems and flog a few DVDs, but what if he trips Farage up? What if he actually wins the thing? Does he have to represent South Thanet in character for the next five years? It would also stop him going on tour, so the joke would be on him.
I think all the other candidates should withdraw from the race and leave the people of South Thanet the stark choice of the joke candidate or Al Murray (do you see what I did there?). Even if Farage won, he would only have beaten a fictional character.
The political system needs to change, but personally I’d like to see a protest party that tried to help us join the 21st century, rather than one intent on sending us back to a fictional notion of 1950s England.
Let’s satirise all our useless politicians by getting a comedian to stand in every single seat. We could fill the House of Commons with people who admit they are laughable idiots. But this Parliament of Fools might be able to do something genuinely constructive.
As prime minister of the confederacy of dunces, I would propose moving parliament to a purpose-built modern building in the centre of the UK (with enough seats for all the MPs to actually sit down at the same time). We could have politicians elected by proportional representation with an equal number of male and female MPs as well as a parliament that accurately reflected class, race and beliefs. Let’s pay our MPs £100,000 a year each (it’s an important job), but they get no expenses and they’re not allowed to take any other job while in government or sit on any company board.
We can pay for this by turning the old Houses of Parliament into a tourist attraction and maybe selling off one or two of the royal family’s palaces to some Americans (may I suggest wherever it is that Prince Andrew lives these days?).
Once my party had voted all that through, all the comedians would resign and start doing knob jokes and crisp commercials and let the proper grown-ups take over again.
You may think I’m some kind of comedian. That’s the point.