In the last seven days, social media has started to resemble a sort-of dodgy Mexican cockfight (much like the ones enjoyed by the PM and pals in their Bullingdon days) and it’s starting to wreak psychological havoc. I toss and turn throughout the night, trying to grapple with some of the more moving statements of intent that have been tossed around my newsfeed like Molotov cocktails. When the waitress in Costa asks me if I want chocolate on my cappuccino I’m terrified of revealing some untoward truth about my political views. Do I want chocolate? What does this mean? I don’t see an end to it. I feel we are destined for some opportunistic psychopath to swoop in and turn the country into a fascist state. The only course of redress that I can see is a little constitutional rejig that establishes Gary Neville as a benign dictator.
It is indeed a primitive contest with only one possible outcome: a sticky sense of general despair. The opponents seem as bad as each other; the only certainty is that they are both cocks. On the one side of the ring – the blue cock – is the browbeaten One Nation Tory, he who gets his kicks from good ol’ fashioned fiscal responsibility; on the other – the red cock – is the impassioned ‘Lefty’, aghast at the prospect of the government’s ‘Sweeney Todd approach’ to welfare cuts. Surrounding the ring, throwing ragged fivers at a flustered comments section, are the punters, a class of people often prone to mistake blood lust for political credo.
The fight gets off to a good start, with a few strong pecks from either cock. Red cock gains the upper hand immediately by posting a gif of a family being evicted, and the audience shows its approval with a smattering of thumbs up. The blue cock rallies, however, with an extremely persuasive Ed Balls meme. The fight seems tied. The red throws a few ‘isms’ into the mix, the blue counters with a well-researched percentage. The red mentions rate of tax, the blue mentions growth. Some punters drift out. It goes on and on, and on, and on. When the bell rings we all feel thoroughly ashamed of ourselves for wasting our time watching such an unrelentingly futile contest. A weird purple cock flaps in to get a piece of the action, but everyone’s already left.
But amidst all this giddy hysteria, a very important, nay, more important democratic outcome has emerged in the last few days. The national vote for Britain’s Favourite Subway Sandwich was cast last week, but unfortunate timing (to say the least) left this democratic watershed in the shade. The founders of the poll, self-professed ‘Brandites’, tried to offer this referendum as a diversion from party politics, which they delicately deemed ‘a bunch of wankers being wankers to other wankers for wank all’.
The latter remark might just be the mot juste of this entire electoral showdown. The results of the sub-election are, by the way, of considerable interest, regardless of your concern for politics. They were as follows: Euro-scepticism prevailed and the Hearty Italian and Italian Herbs and Cheese breads were decimated in the polls, leaving Wheat and Honey Oat neck and neck. Next the fillings. Turkey and sweetcorn both performed well, but, outsiders from the off, never stood much chance against the heavyweights: Chicken Tikka vs. Meatball Marinara. The trouble was, no one could ever eat the Meatball Marinara without looking like an idiot and spilling sauce all over themselves, a faux pas widely exploited by the Tikka fans, whose sub stormed ahead to claim the title of Britain’s Favourite. Great. This did not, however, diminish the remarkable achievement of the newly introduced haggis sub, which swept up considerably in the North.
But alas, politics is politics, and whether it involves squashy, glutinous lunchtime treats or squashy, glutinous party leaders, it’s always bound to create divisions, start rows and give you chronic indigestion.