Luddite riots, robots and 0% support. Photo: Getty
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Simulection: What happens when you run the 2015 Conservative manifesto through a video game?

We are running the parties' manifestos through Democracy 3, an election simulation video game. Here's what happens if the Tories win...

Dave says: “One more term. Just one. To fix Labour’s legacy. To remind you. Not our fault. I’m not saying we’ve achieved everything we set out to. I’m not saying we’re not proud of what we have achieved. I’m not saying anything, really, because I’d rather hoped Ed would put his foot in it, so I wouldn’t have to. Being a Conservative is about scaring, not charming. Promising, not delivering. Resigning, not winning.

We’ve done so much. 700,000 zero-hours jobs. 900,000 hard-working families given the chance to access foodbanks. Increased immigration despite our promises. And we’ve massively expanded our national debt by 500 million pou- ahem. My useless fag appears to have got my cue cards mixed up. This one is labelled, uh, Topics to Avoid. Gove. GOVE! Where is that boy?”

So, Cameron’s government. The Prime Minister who hasn’t been elected and has promised next time round that you can’t elect him then either. This is our one shot to elect him! A limited time offer! A Tory multi-pack with a random Prime Ministerial George, Theresa or Boris included! Vote for him now or he’ll have to do motivational after-dinner speeches for the rest of his life!

We've already discovered that running the Labour manifesto through a video game resulted in an egalitarian utopia eventually – but that the first term was touch-and-go under the global recession that hit us.

Looking over the Conservative manifesto, it’s very similar to Labour’s  nearly inseparable in most commitments  but there’s an extra focus on the old, promising them that their pensions are safe, safe, safe and their inheritances will be too. Lucky that, because those are the core Tory voters, in that giant doughnut of the wealthy around London that stops in the foothills of the Midlands.

I’m starting this simulation from the same save file as I did with Labour, to try to balance any randomness in it. (You can see more caveats about the program we’re using here.) Just like Labour, the Conservatives have tied themselves up in all sorts of fiscal constraints, so there isn’t much budgetary wiggle room – no changes allowed to VAT, National Insurance or income tax, save raising the 40p tax threshold to 50p, raising the income tax threshold by £2,000 and eventually reducing income tax. Oh, and they also want to run a surplus.

I really struggled with the Labour manifesto. This one seems even more constrained, with even more spending commitments that are horribly specific. Reduce government spending by 1 per cent in the first two years, run a surplus in the fourth year and finally increase spending in the last full year. These cuts look to be two-fifths from welfare savings, one-sixth from cutting tax avoidance/evasion/planning, and the rest from departmental savings.

My first task is to see how I can save that money. It really doesn’t look like I can. Tax avoidance is a background statistic of the game; departmental spending is a political synonym for "dunno"; and much of the welfare budget is explicitly protected in the manifesto, such as pensions or childcare. So I slash what welfare I can and implement the spending freeze the tories pseudo-promised for education. Dropping that saved money straight back into the NHS is a small increase given the bloated size of the health budget relative to the economy, but that’s another manifesto commitment hit.

The Tories have promised to reduce the benefits cap to £23k, which I represent by cutting unemployment benefits a touch. However, that’s more than balanced by the huge reduction in inheritance tax, which will now only come in at £1,000,000. And which itself is matched by a huge investment in science funding and robotics.

That’s much less tax coming in and a huge amount of money spent. As all this automation will push up the unemployment rate amongst the lower paid, I fulfil another manifesto pledge to make the young unemployed work by making it mandatory for all medium-term unemployed people to do community work. I’m not winning friends here, except amongst robots.

There’s one manifesto commitment I simply can’t represent properly; build 200,000 new homes by lifting obligations on builders to build infrastructure and to include affordable housing. I’m puzzling over what to do about this when any spending decisions leave my hands tied and I notice that the global economy is taking the same path it did under Labour  a nosedive.

I have the advantage here that I think it’s going to be a long dip, so I really need to cut expenditure to fulfil those financial commitments to reduce the deficit  though I didn’t see a promise like Labour’s to reduce the national debt so theoretically I can run up the national debt in the first couple of years of recession, then run a surplus in the last two years of the parliament. Simple!

So I just cut the money necessary to reduce expenditure year-on-year, and screw the debt. Which of course means my credit rating will be in the doldrums soon enough, but c’est la vie. Foreign aid goes first. Then I introduce stringent, probing welfare fraud investigators who bring in slightly more than they cost...

The burgeoning debt and welfare cuts have unsettled the cabinet. I let the welfare minister go first, then the tax minister as they both seem really quite scared  welfare wanted to quit politics entirely to spend her remaining time with her family. Firing them terrifies the rest of the cabinet and I have to do a full reshuffle.

I look at our other committments. £13bn on transport? £50bn on HS2? £15bn on road-building? No way. I can just manage the £500m on zero-emission cars and £200m on cycling, but that’s it.

Meanwhile, our credit rating has sunk to CC. To clarify what that means, Britain in Cameron’s second term is regarded as a worse risk than Venezuela, which has been on the verge of a coup for the past year. The only current country in the world with the same Fitch rating is the Ukraine, which has been invaded by Russia. The only country with a worse credit rating, from every ratings agency, is Argentina, which has defaulted on its debts over and over.

The terror threat page all goes a bit Pete Tong at this point, with varied threats every quarter, first from the human rights society, then the capitalists at the Battenberg group, then finally settling on the well-funded, armed and numerous Revolutionary Army.

I’m still frantically trying to balance the books, which is offending every demographic under the sun. Agricultural subsidies go out of the window  pissing off farmers, alcohol duty is increased massively – pissing off everyone, and prisons are so crammed that they make the Bastille look like a model penitentiary. I finally have the money to implement the transport pledges, though it’s a mite late. I splash all the money I can on rail subsidies and road-building, which only contributes to the asthma epidemic.

I also try to throw a bit of money at tax havens and enterprise investment schemes (aka tax dodges) for the wealthy (it might not be in the manifesto, but I’ll remind you that George Osborne is Chancellor), but even they aren’t on my side.

The election is looming. I take a moment to look at the state of the country. On the upside, we’re hugely technologically advanced, thanks to my careful funding of robots and nanomachines, and relatively productive and green. On the downside, there’s lynch mobs in the streets, class warfare as society collapses, inner city riots, booming crime rates, luddite riots smashing those lovely new robots, and extreme nationalism (more about that when we do the Ukip manifesto.) Poverty has rocketed, equality plummeted, health collapsed, crime boomed, and generally the country has collapsed. Quite impressive in just five years!

The polls have me on… 0 per cent. Wait, is that possible? The cabinet revolts, so I reshuffle them just in time to line up for the guillotine. And I cut income tax as a last desperate hurrah, like every Chancellor ever, and so I can claim I carried out our manifesto pledges to the best possible degree. What legacy has Dave left for Boris, Theresa and the boy George?

The result… the result is every New Statesman reader’s dream…

Read our methodology hereFollow the rest of the series as it unfolds here. And here's what happened with the manifestos in the 2010 election.

Steve Garry
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The footie is back. Three weeks in and what have we learned so far?

Barcleys, boots and big names... the Prem is back.

Another season, another reason for making whoopee cushions and giving them to Spurs fans to cheer them up during the long winter afternoons ahead. What have we learned so far?

Big names are vital. Just ask the manager of the Man United shop. The arrival of Schneiderlin and Schweinsteiger has done wonders for the sale of repro tops and they’ve run out of letters. Benedict Cumberbatch, please join Carlisle United. They’re desperate for some extra income.

Beards are still in. The whole Prem is bristling with them, the skinniest, weediest player convinced he’s Andrea Pirlo. Even my young friend and neighbour Ed Miliband has grown a beard, according to his holiday snaps. Sign him.

Boots Not always had my best specs on, but here and abroad I detect a new form of bootee creeping in – slightly higher on the ankle, not heavy-plated as in the old days but very light, probably made from the bums of newborn babies.

Barclays Still driving me mad. Now it’s screaming from the perimeter boards that it’s “Championing the true Spirit of the Game”. What the hell does that mean? Thank God this is its last season as proud sponsor of the Prem.

Pitches Some groundsmen have clearly been on the weeds. How else can you explain the Stoke pitch suddenly having concentric circles, while Southampton and Portsmouth have acquired tartan stripes? Go easy on the mowers, chaps. Footballers find it hard enough to pass in straight lines.

Strips Have you seen the Everton third kit top? Like a cheap market-stall T-shirt, but the colour, my dears, the colour is gorgeous – it’s Thames green. Yes, the very same we painted our front door back in the Seventies. The whole street copied, then le toot middle classes everywhere.

Scott Spedding Which international team do you think he plays for? I switched on the telly to find it was rugby, heard his name and thought, goodo, must be Scotland, come on, Scotland. Turned out to be the England-France game. Hmm, must be a member of that famous Cumbrian family, the Speddings from Mirehouse, where Tennyson imagined King Arthur’s Excalibur coming out the lake. Blow me, Scott Spedding turns out to be a Frenchman. Though he only acquired French citizenship last year, having been born and bred in South Africa. What’s in a name, eh?

Footballers are just so last season. Wayne Rooney and Harry Kane can’t score. The really good ones won’t come here – all we get is the crocks, the elderly, the bench-warmers, yet still we look to them to be our saviour. Oh my God, let’s hope we sign Falcao, he’s a genius, will make all the difference, so prayed all the Man United fans. Hold on: Chelsea fans. I’ve forgotten now where he went. They seek him here, they seek him there, is he alive or on the stairs, who feckin’ cares?

John Stones of Everton – brilliant season so far, now he is a genius, the solution to all of Chelsea’s problems, the heir to John Terry, captain of England for decades. Once he gets out of short trousers and learns to tie his own laces . . .

Managers are the real interest. So refreshing to have three young British managers in the Prem – Alex Neil at Norwich (34), Eddie Howe at Bournemouth (37) and that old hand at Swansea, Garry Monk, (36). Young Master Howe looks like a ball boy. Or a tea boy.

Mourinho is, of course, the main attraction. He has given us the best start to any of his seasons on this planet. Can you ever take your eyes off him? That handsome hooded look, that sarcastic sneer, the imperious hand in the air – and in his hair – all those languages, he’s so clearly brilliant, and yet, like many clever people, often lacking in common sense. How could he come down so heavily on Eva Carneiro, his Chelsea doctor? Just because you’re losing? Yes, José has been the best fun so far – plus Chelsea’s poor start. God, please don’t let him fall out with Abramovich. José, we need you.

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 27 August 2015 issue of the New Statesman, Isis and the new barbarism