The House of Commons tea room

Arthur Anderson MP is sitting morosely alone staring into his teacup. Sir Bertram Baring comes and joins him.

AA: Hi Bertie. Things don’t look good.

BB: You’re telling me! What a dismal set of local election results. If things don’t improve before the next general election we could both end up unemployed.

AA: Some of the chaps think it’s time for a new leader.

BB: Stone me! Four leaders in less than a year? What’ll that look like? Anyway, it’s not leaders we need but followers.

AA: You mean voters? That’s what I’m saying. We’ve not got enough.

BB: No! That’s not what I mean. Some of the local candidates, including existing councillors were our biggest liabilities. Couldn’t sell water to a man lost in the desert. The leader of my local council kept blaming the government for everything as if they were another party. Then a potential voter asked about housing and he said not to worry the council wouldn’t approve any new building plans as long as he was in charge. Then someone accused him of nimbyism and he said that wasn’t fair. His son had got a top job with the council on his own merits. The clown didn’t even realise the laughs he got weren’t sympathetic.

AA: I see what you mean. In my area most of the candidates kept banging on about immigration, when half the electorate are immigrants or the next generation. Just for a change, one of the candidates went on about law and order. Then some cheeky blighter asked how the investigation into the local MP was going. They meant ME! The candidate didn’t know what they were on about. The questioner did. But what have my personal finances got to do with anything? The candidate then got all moral and attacked the woke generation and all that LGBT stuff. That’s when the heckler asked about a certain club in the town. Well, half the local party members go there, including me, as you’ll remember from when you visited us last year.

BB: Did that cheeky fellow ask about the cost of living? That’s what most people in my neck of the woods want to know about. The one who’s supposed to be the brains in my constituency party gave a speech about interest rates being the key to the problem. Someone asked how higher mortgage rates and increasing the cost of credit is supposed to help when you can’t make ends meet and the fool replied that the answer’s to make sure you stay in the black. Even I find that hard enough these days.

AA: Oh, no. One of the candidates for my local council had a go at the strikers in the NHS for pushing up the cost of everything and said they should behave like people in the private sector. Then some comedian said the local private hospital’s been poaching NHS staff by offering better pay and shorter hours. The candidate said he thought it was a matter for them, what they pay their staff. After all, they’re making enough money. Still, it didn’t go down well with the voters as you might expect.

BB: I’m afraid we’ve got people like those candidates all over the country. If they don’t keep their mouths shut we’re doomed. Ah! Now here’s someone we can rely on to talk sense. Charlie Carrington-Carmichael. Hi, Carrie! Come and join us for tea and sympathy.

CC: Hello Bertie! Hello Arty! Cheer up – you look as miserable as a couple of remoaners. Oh – I forgot – you are.

BB: Getting Brexit done hasn’t done us much good. The voters don’t seem grateful.

CC: I know. The PM’s worried. That’s why he’s set up a special task force to plan our strategy for the next election and I’m on it.

BB: Good for you old boy. Let’s hope it’s good for the party too. Have you got any ideas? You usually have.

CC: Yes. I’ve just finished explaining to the rest of the group that we need to get off the back foot – letting the opposition make all the running with their smarty criticisms and get in front. We need to tell everyone all about our positive achievements.

AA: That’s the spirit1 I’ll bet the PM’s going to be glad he’s got you on the team. Oh, err… what exactly are our positive achievements? What? I say, don’t be like that/

BB: Well, it’s not like old Charlie to go storming off like that. Is it?

[For another short story involving these three characters see my previous post The Three Card Trick]