Would the last person left in David Cameron’s Britain please turn out the lights?

Get the hell out of here while there’s still time.

So long, farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, and all the other ways of saying goodbye sung by that creepy chorus of Austrian children in The Sound of Music  – I’m leaving this sun-forsaken country for happier climes and saltier shores. Here’s the good news: there’s still time for you to join me, and the flock of other expatriates making their way to countries with illiberal rights records and economic growth. So hitch up your caravan to a hornéd beast, tie your worldly possessions bulgingly to its flanks, and clad your teenage children with ill-fitting rags: it’s time to vacate this blessed plot.  

Now I realise I’m arguing against some deeply engrained prejudices in asking you to leave the UK. You’re probably thinking: filthy, lazy emigrants, leaving here, quitting their jobs, speaking our language, sending their money back into our country, easing the pressure on the NHS, educating their kids in someone else’s schools, what a disgusting way to live.  

So I’ve assembled several convincing arguments to show you that life’s better when it’s conducted elsewhere. Let the British Diaspora commence: let’s begin a stampede that will lead to David Cameron getting his head stuck inside a light bulb on the front page of the Sun. (In hindsight, it was only ever a matter of time until someone realised that Neil Kinnock’s head was exactly light bulb-shaped. The moral: don’t go into politics if you have a light bulb-shaped head. Democracy, eh?)

Here goes:

The Economy

We are living in a post-industrial, post-Fordist, Post Office closure economy, overseen by a smug 12-year old with an eminently punchable face, a 2:1 in History, and no other qualifications or real world experience; a 12-year old who considers his gap year the most exciting time of his life, and who regards quarterly growth of less than half of one per cent as a vindication of his existing prejudices. But many other Conservative Chancellors lacked training in economics, pleads Osborne’s biographer, Janan Ganesh. Yes. They were also crap. Norman Lamont’s career, for example, makes most sense if you assume that he was in fact a troll, offering opinions so patently contrary-to-fact that they must have been intended exclusively to enrage. “There are going to be no devaluations, no leaving the ERM.” What could this have been but a dark joke, or a work of conceptual art? We should be grateful that none of his Budgets contained Rick Astley videos.

And another thing. This last year, the price of a can of tuna has increased from around 60p to at least £1.20. That’s Quantitative Easing for you. Cheers, Monetary Policy Committee.

The Weather

On the Eighth Day, God turned down the saturation levels all across the UK, so that it would forever experience a sort of grey, Purgatorial permagloom. And He saw that it was oppressive. And He did nothing about it.  

Michael Gove’s face

Which is a synecdoche for our parliamentary system entire. In which small children hurl playground insults at one another, while an even smaller child tells them off for being too noisy. What happened to the elegant, innovative putdowns of Benjamin Disraeli, who once boasted of his opponents that he had “squabashed” them? Politicians used to take their jobs seriously: on becoming PM, Gladstone wrote "I ascend a steepening path, with a burden ever increasing in weight." David Cameron, by contrast, when considering the Premiership, boasted: "I think I’d be good at it." Walking around Whitehall, you can practically hear the sound of Chris Grayling licking his thin lips as he considers another way to make things slightly worse than they were before.   

And then there’s Michael Gove’s face itself. It’s the face of a man who can argue anything, knows little, and cares less. A face that needs glasses to make it look less grasping and unkind. A face untouched by natural light, or benevolence.

Stewart Lee

Thanks to whom it’s no longer acceptable to make jokes about the weather, people having sex, or the suffering of others. Instead, jokes must now be about other jokes, the exact mechanisms of which are to be painstakingly laid bare by analysis of the comic tropes and rhetorical structures they employ. Now, whenever I find myself making a joke anywhere within the borders of the United Kingdom, I think to myself: were the workings of this joke made explicit to its listener, would she consider it a clever, ironic and postmodern comment on our collective joke-making practices, or would she simply see it as a predictable and ritualistic attempt to cause her diaphragm to spasm for the purpose of developing our social relationship? Is its very comedy really just a tawdry attempt authentically to relate to another person, which, in being necessarily doomed to fail, is in fact a source of profound tragedy? Is she laughing with or at my attempt to laugh at my attempt to cause her to laugh with, but not at, me? Cheers, Stewart Lee.  

These are more than enough reasons for you to quit this scepter’d isle, quite frankly, and to provide any more would be to succumb to self-indulgence.

So fly, you fools. I’ll cover you.

Photograph: Getty Images
Getty Images.
Show Hide image

Sadiq Khan gives Jeremy Corbyn's supporters a lesson on power

The London mayor doused the Labour conference with cold electoral truths. 

There was just one message that Sadiq Khan wanted Labour to take from his conference speech: we need to be “in power”. The party’s most senior elected politician hammered this theme as relentlessly as his “son of a bus driver” line. His obsessive emphasis on “power” (used 38 times) showed how far he fears his party is from office and how misguided he believes Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters are.

Khan arrived on stage to a presidential-style video lauding his mayoral victory (a privilege normally reserved for the leader). But rather than delivering a self-congratulatory speech, he doused the conference with cold electoral truths. With the biggest personal mandate of any British politician in history, he was uniquely placed to do so.

“Labour is not in power in the place that we can have the biggest impact on our country: in parliament,” he lamented. It was a stern rebuke to those who regard the street, rather than the ballot box, as the principal vehicle of change.

Corbyn was mentioned just once, as Khan, who endorsed Owen Smith, acknowledged that “the leadership of our party has now been decided” (“I congratulate Jeremy on his clear victory”). But he was a ghostly presence for the rest of the speech, with Khan declaring “Labour out of power will never ever be good enough”. Though Corbyn joined the standing ovation at the end, he sat motionless during several of the applause lines.

If Khan’s “power” message was the stick, his policy programme was the carrot. Only in office, he said, could Labour tackle the housing crisis, air pollution, gender inequality and hate crime. He spoke hopefully of "winning the mayoral elections next year in Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham", providing further models of campaigning success. 

Khan peroration was his most daring passage: “It’s time to put Labour back in power. It's time for a Labour government. A Labour Prime Minister in Downing Street. A Labour Cabinet. Labour values put into action.” The mayor has already stated that he does not believe Corbyn can fulfil this duty. The question left hanging was whether it would fall to Khan himself to answer the call. If, as he fears, Labour drifts ever further from power, his lustre will only grow.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.