A Labour of love for Tory Theresa’s elec­tion pitch

Financial Times USA - - LETTERS - by Robert Shrim­s­ley robert.shrim­s­ley@ft.com

As Theresa May launched her man­i­festo for the gen­eral elec­tion, the FT went be­hind the scenes in her bunker as she and her two fa­nat­i­cal chief aides Nick Ti­mothy, her pol­icy supremo and Fiona Hill, her chief enforcer, drew up the de­tails of her pol­icy pitch to the na­tion.

Theresa May: So Nick, what do we have for the man­i­festo? Nick Ti­mothy: Well boss, we need to sur­prise them. Some­thing to stretch our ap­peal deep into Labour ter­ri­tory. Peo­ple want their coun­try back. They re­mem­ber when we had jobs and hope and Green Shield Stamps. What hap­pened to Green Shield Stamps? When I was grow­ing up in Birm­ing­ham ev­ery­one had Green Shield Stamps. We need to win back the or­di­nary peo­ple. TM: With Green Shield Stamps? NT: No, with a cap on en­ergy bills. TM: Isn’t that a bit statist? NT: Lis­ten boss, I was talk­ing to Ed Miliband’s pol­icy guru the other day. He thinks the en­ergy cap is a re­ally good idea. When I was a boy grow­ing up in Birm­ing­ham, ev­ery­one had an en­ergy cap. TM: Don’t we be­lieve in free mar­kets? NT: What are you, a Tory? Fiona Hill: ( on phone) Is that the Chan­cel­lor of the Ex­che­quer? An­other min­is­ter once briefed against Theresa. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chi­anti. NT: We need at­tacks on for­eign­ers. TM: I’m not sure about vi­o­lence, Nick NT: No prime min­is­ter, not at­tacks on for­eign­ers. A tax on for­eign­ers. Treat them as a lux­ury item, make peo­ple pay more for them. Levy VAT on pur­chases of for­eign­ers. When I was grow­ing up in Birm­ing­ham we al­ways taxed for­eign­ers. It’s the only way our peo­ple can com­pete. I was talk­ing to Gor­don Brown the other day. We need Bri­tish jobs for Bri­tish work­ers. TM: Hmm. What else? NT: Re­dis­tri­bu­tion. A wealth tax. TM: What? NT: A wealth tax, but paid only by peo­ple with de­men­tia. TM: That sounds a bit left­wing NT: I was talk­ing to Noam Chom­sky the other day. He’s very keen on the idea. We need to deal with these par­a­sit­i­cal home­own­ers with their bour­geois at­ti­tudes. Fiona Hill: (on phone again). Lis­ten Philip. Not an­other word. You’ve messed with the wrong marine, pal. NT: We need a pol­icy to win back those or­di­nary work­ers. TM: What do you sug­gest? NT: Well, I was talk­ing to John Prescott the other day. What about re­na­tion­al­is­ing the rail­ways? TM: What? If Cor­byn pro­posed this we’d call him a com­mu­nist FH: No we wouldn’t. We’d get the Daily Mail to do it for us. TM: But re­na­tion­al­is­ing the rail­ways? NT: We need to se­cure for the work­ers, by hand or by brain, the full fruits of their in­dus­try. When I was grow­ing up in Birm­ing­ham every boy had a train set. No one has one now. Or­di­nary hard-work­ing fam­i­lies want their train set back. And we need more work­ers’ rights, em­ploy­ees on boards, wild­cat strikes, fly­ing pick­ets. When I was grow­ing up in Birm­ing­ham we al­ways had fly­ing pick­ets. TM: I thought we didn’t like mil­i­tant trade union­ism, Nick. NT: That’s the kind of thing Thatcher would say. TM: Thank you NT: That wasn’t a com­pli­ment. We need an old-style in­dus­trial strat­egy. We need to pick some win­ners. TM: Like a new tech cor­ri­dor? NT: A tech cor­ri­dor. We never had a tech cor­ri­dor when I was grow­ing up in Birm­ing­ham. But we did have Bri­tish Ley­land. I’ve been talk­ing to Roy Hat­ter­s­ley. Ev­ery­one loved Bri­tish Ley­land. It was the envy of the world. We should prom­ise an Austin Al­le­gro to every hard-work­ing fam­ily. FH: (on phone) Philip, tell me. When you wake up in the dark do you still hear the scream­ing of the lambs? TM: Fiona, stop threat­en­ing the Chan­cel­lor. FH: I must go, Chan­cel­lor. I’m hav­ing an old friend for din­ner. TM: Now what about the launch of the man­i­festo. I thought we’d call it For­ward, To­gether. NT: It’s a bit Churchillian. TM: Well that’s OK isn’t it? NT: You know what would be good. We should get a great big stone with all our poli­cies carved on it? TM: Haven’t I seen that be­fore some­where? FH: Prime Min­is­ter, I do hope you aren’t go­ing to be any trou­ble here.

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