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Lionel Shriver

Labour’s real 2019 manifesto

23 November 2019

9:00 AM

23 November 2019

9:00 AM

In 2019, Labour’s strategy is about delivering a fairer, more prosperous society, in adherence to our motto: for the zany, not the shrewd.

Because Labour voters have short attention spans (and therefore do not remember how deeply we got the nation in debt the last time our party was in power), we would like to frontload this manifesto with the vast piles of Free Stuff that will inundate British households if you award our party a majority. You will notice lower down on your ballot a space to tick ‘milk’ or ‘dark’ for your 750g M&S chocolate assortment. Do not forget to further customise your order by ticking ‘creams’, ‘caramels’ or ‘truffles’, and ‘yes’ or ‘no’ by ‘I have a nut allergy’.

We apologise that delivery of your first free weekly Proletariat Pizza (thin crust or classic deep pan) will have to wait until after 12 December, because we were unable to fit the full list of optional toppings on to the ballot paper, and there were unresolved objections from some quarters to the inclusion of pineapple.

When leaving the polling station, however, make sure to pick up your shiny red Labour goodie bag to the left (naturally) of the door. We don’t want to ruin all the surprises in store, but we can tip off voters that gifts include: a 100ml bottle of Aveda Botanical Kinetics moisturiser, a five-inch lavender-scented candle (bound to come in useful when we nationalise energy companies), a £50 John Lewis coupon redeemable for the lampshade of your choice (teal blue being, alas, out of stock), a deckle-edged collector’s edition of Mao’s Little Red Book, Bose Bluetooth headphones (as we’re not to be outdone by the New Yorker Festival), and a small electric car.

Commonly, of course, goodie bags are filled by donations from supportive companies, but because we couldn’t find any companies that want Jeremy Corbyn to become prime minister, the cost to Labour of those headphones will be reimbursed by the taxpayer. That’s surely all right with you, because if you vote for Labour in 2019 we assume that you’re not a taxpayer.


Advance announcement of our nationwide free broadband policy allowed the membership to point out that super-rich access to commercial streaming services is not only a form of cultural appropriation but a major contributor to inequality. So we will also be providing the British people with free subscriptions to Netflix, Sky Sports and Disney Plus.

In the event that householders have needs and desires in excess of chocolate and moisturiser, never fear. In its first year, a Labour government will nationalise Amazon. Thus British citizens — and non-citizens, whose exclusion would be racist — will be able to have DIY materials, groceries from Amazon Fresh, gardening tools, Nike trainers and ineffective nutritional supplements shipped directly from 10 Downing Street, all without the bother of registering a credit card. We regret that owing to the organisational challenges of fitting this many goods into a rather small house off Whitehall, to begin with our returns policy may not be quite as efficient as the current online retailer’s.

As for health care, free dental checkups are just the start. To ameliorate our oppressed countrymen’s damaging reputation for dingy smiles, we will offer the entire electorate free tooth whitening and/or veneers. Nitrous oxide will also be made available on a recreational basis.

Given that the money we will pile each year into surgeries and hospitals will be equivalent to the Treasury’s entire annual budget, we are herewith proposing to rename the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland ‘the National Health Service’. As any mention of this institution must already be delivered with quavering, misty-eyed reverence, it makes sense that ‘our NHS’ should refer to the country itself, thereby ensuring a degree of social cohesion with which mere ‘One Nation Conservatism’ cannot compete.

The Labour party realises that inequality is not solely a material concern. Of course our confiscation of private schools will guarantee that no one in our fine country is permitted unjustly to excel, but we will go still further — bulldozing, grading and compacting the outlying properties of Eton and Harrow into perfectly level playing fields. The unjustly good-looking will be issued mandatory fat suits, the unjustly smart will wear compulsory VR headsets streaming synchronised patriotic dance numbers from North Korea, and the unjustly likeable will be targeted by vicious, defamatory Twitter pile-ons via #seeminglycharmingpersonsecretlyawanker.

Detractors have claimed that, if we stick to our commitment to keep the taxes of 95 per cent of the population unchanged, our manifesto is unaffordable. On the contrary, the irresistible draw of so much fabulous fairness in one place is bound to attract investment from all over the world. Being graciously allowed to contribute to communal wellbeing on such a scale will act as an irresistible pull factor for the super-rich, especially when they learn that the civic-minded top 5 per cent will be issued complimentary hair shirts. Emblazoned with bright yellow pound signs, these sturdy waterproofs will provide welcome protection from the elements when CEOs, hedge-fund managers and any other members of the bourgeoisie who thieve more than £80,000 per annum are drafted into chain gangs to pick up roadside litter. (Apologies to the membership, but Jeremy has equivocated on expanding freedom of movement, as it was observed that such liberty might be misused to leave the country.)

Besides, who is the tax evader par excellence? Who, the British people will be shocked to learn, has hitherto paid the Exchequer exactly 0 per cent, year upon year? Santa Claus. A notoriously wealthy, privileged capitalist who usurps the role of the state in determining who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. Closing up this loophole will alone finance our whole first term.

Lastly, Jeremy has sorted climate change. We will nationalise the weather.

Spectator.co.uk/lionelshriver
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