Wednesday, 4 December 2013

One Nation

It was 2014, the year when Tesco’s started offering the elderly and terminally ill discounts on ‘bags for life’.

It was also the year when Ed Miliband ceased to say anything but the phrase ‘One nation’. He woke up one morning, as usual, and descended the stairs in red pyjamas, slippers, and no particular hurry. When he walked into the kitchen, his wife, Justine, was balancing a slice of toast against her ear, and spreading a thin layer of marmite over her iPhone (it was early morning, and she hadn’t yet found her glasses)*. “We’ve run out of jam”, she said in exasperation, and his general direction. “One nation,” Ed replied.

“Very funny,” she said. “Can you pass the paper?”
“One nation,” Ed replied.
After about two minutes, and fifty nations, Justine started to think something might be wrong.

Justine phoned the Labour Whip, who came round immediately, and in a car. Together, they worked out a crude method of communicating with the leader of the opposition; ‘one for yes, two for no’.
“Can you understand us, Ed?”
“One nation,” Ed replied.

They drove him to a doctor, but there was nothing physiologically wrong. It was psychological. (Or possibly ‘divine retribution’, as one nurse had so helpfully suggested). Back in the car, the Whip sighed and scanned her diary. There were three speeches to cancel. She got out her Blackberry**, and began to scroll through the contacts, when Miliband placed a hand on her shoulder. He gave her a deep, meaningful look across the leather seats of the chauffeured department car, like a Labrador, giving her a deep, meaningful look across the leather seats of the chauffeured department. “You want to do the speech?” she asked, eyebrows making a bid to join her hairline.
“One nation,” Ed replied.

The speech went well. Frighteningly well. Not only had the minister not been bottled off the stage - as was customary - but there had been applause. Actual applause! Back in the chauffeured car, the Chief Whip turned to Ed. “How would you feel about another speech?”
“One nation,” Ed replied.


* Texturally, this is not an easy mistake to make; Ed, however, had bought her a toast-textured novelty iPhone case. Unfortunately, this made the mistake far more likely to occur. Fortunately, the makers of the novelty iPhone case had had the foresight to predict this eventuality, so the case was marmite-proof.
**In a novelty crumpet-case. A cheap one, bought off a market stall in Camden, so not actually butter-proof, as the Whip would cruelly discover in three days’ time.

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