Theresa May is in a lift in Tory Central Office. It stops and Lynton Crosby gets in.
LC: So, Theresa. How are you?
TM: Lynton! I’m good, thanks. Which floor?
LC: Well, I’m going to the top, of course! With you.
TM: Ha! Of course.
The door closes and the lift moves on.
LC: Theresa, I’ve been meaning to speak to you actually. It’s a new campaign idea I’ve come up with.
TM: Oh yes, do elaborate.
LC: I give you fag packets...
LC: ...and you write a speech on the back of them.
TM: Lynton, you’re a genius! When do we roll this out?
LC: Well, I thought tomorrow afternoon.
TM: Where am I again?
LC: You’re at a deserted carpark just outside Swindon.
TM: But you will bus some people in? It’s just that we don’t get the same crowds as Corbyn.
LC: Exactly. And my fag packet policy idea will address exactly that!
TM: What do you mean?
LC: Well, fags are usually associated with the working classes. As is Labour. As is Corbyn. So not only are we saying: ‘look, you lot smoke too much and are too working class, but we also understand that by writing speeches for you on the backs of fag packets’.
TM: You don’t think there’s any other associations with fag packets?
LC: What?! Such as?
TM: Well, I’m not sure. I think there is a phrase that people associate with fag packets. Something about them being small., and perhaps voters might think we’re making stuff up on the spot...
LC: Look, Theresa...Christ, this lift is taking ages...Theresa, I’m in charge of the campaign, and I am telling you now, there’s no way we can lose, especially if we adopt this idea. It’s what you hired me for. Because you know I’m an ideas man, and I always have ideas. Which reminds me, I’ve booked you in for a private posturing session this afternoon at three.
TM: A what?
LC: You learn how to look serious, look playful, look statesmanlike. It’s all in the email I sent you.
TM: You sent me an email? Can’t people just talk to each other? I am the prime minister, after all.
LC: Prime Minister, I am far too busy for that. Trust me. Anyway, you’ll enjoy your posturing session. You can learn how to grandstand and be immensely hypocritical whilst talking about the economy, or addressing the nation in a sombre way. The voters respond to your face. They trust you. After all, you’re strong and stable. Another one of mine. Except for the police, they don’t like you. Or students. Or anyone with an ounce of decency and a brain….strong and stable...
There is a profound pause
LC: This lift really is taking a very long time.
TM: So this fag packet idea.
LC: Yeah, it’s a good one, isn’t it? Just think of the policies we can announce on them, the reach we will have. It’ll give us an edge over Corbyn. He still thinks talking to very large crowds is a good idea! He is so 20th century. But you, Theresa. You! You’re now! You’re contemporary.
TM: But these crowds that Corbyn gets. Why don’t I get them?
LC: But you do! Remember when we went to Saudi Arabia? There’s were hundreds of people around. And yes, they were all from the House of Saud, and yes they were forced at the blade of a sword to be there, but that’s not the point! And remember when you went to see the orange man-boy in the US? The crowds loved you!
TM: Yeah, but that was at the UN. And the delegates are meant to be there. It’s the UN.
LC: Trump held your hand. He likes you! He showed you round the Whitehouse.
TM: Yeah, he likes me so much his intelligence services deliberately leaked information about the Manchester bomber. Why doesn’t anyone like me anymore, Lynton? You like me, don’t you?
LC: Theresa, are you having a wobble? I’m sensing a wobble. Now is not wobble time! It’s gobble time!
TM: Gobble time?
LC: Yes! You gobble up those voters! What on earth is up with this bloody lift?!
TM: So, about this fag packet policy...
LC: Look Theresa, just make some stuff up, don’t fact-check it, keep it brief, and the voters will swallow it all up anyway. Or if they don’t the right-wing press will. And then they’ll persaude the voters to swallow it all up. It’s how the system works. It’s how we’ve rigged it in our favour.
TM: Lynton, are you sure this is sound politics?
The lift stops
LC: Ah finally. Well, this lift goes to the top. Aren’t you getting out here, Theresa? You have to meet a focus group to discuss the best way to present the education cuts.
TM: Ah yes, I suppose I’d better.
LC: Yes, four more floors for me.
Theresa May gets out the lift
LC: Oh and before you go, Theresa, we need to supply sickbags to the hand-picked crowd. Apparently people are starting to feel queasy when our election bus turns up.
TM: What? Why?
The lift doors start to close
TM: Lynton? Lynton??
Theresa May stands there, alone and confused, and doesn’t seem to know which way to go, what to do or what to think. She wraps her arms around herself and leans against a wall.
TM: I’m Theresa May, I’m strong and stable, strong and stable...strong and stable...
Max Webster is the editor of Political Provocateur