Every week, The Friday Speed Read cracks out its Salter home science kit and sets up a viable fractional distillation column with which it separates out the best news stories via their different boiling points.
There’s a scene in Monty Python’s unmatched gem of religious satire “The Life of Brian” in which the revolutionary group The People’s Front of Judea bemoans the many factions that have broken away from their organisation. Running through a roster of defectors (The Judean People’s Front, The Judean Popular People’s Front . . .), the four members of the PFJ loudly decry each betrayal with the insult- “SPLITTERS”. What do you mean you’ve never seen it? Sigh. This country. Here it is then.
Anyway, what was conceived as a satire of the internecine conflicts between trade unionists in the 1970s has, unexpectedly, provided the first entry on the list of possible names for the new political “party” that emerged this week. Admittedly, “For a better future, vote Splitters!” isn’t the most compelling offering but like all lists, this one has to start somewhere and we’ll get to work on some more alternatives later in this edition of your favourite weekly scraping of the news barrel.
But let’s first consider the facts of what’s happened this week in events that many are describing as “well it may not amount to much but at least it’s a bit of a break from the relentless monotony of an endlessly-repetitive news cycle”. That or “a major shift in the tectonic plates of British politics” (let’s be honest it’s the former isn’t it?). On Tuesday, a small group of seven Labour MPs that most people hadn’t heard of (except, perhaps, Chuka Umunna) announced they were leaving the party in protest against it’s handling of Brexit and their view that it still hasn’t rid itself of anti-Semitic elements. These MPs said they would not be seeking re-election but would sit in the House of Commons as an “independent group” and not, as yet, a new political party. “Splitting Headache” said the Mirror; “Corbyn is warned more will quit” reported The Guardian. Most of the right-wing press found the situation funny, believing that a riven Labour Party simply makes the Tories stronger with the Mail finding time for some Corbyn / allotment pun fun: “Leader who has lost the plot”.
The following day things got a bit juicer as three Tory MPs (two of whom many people had heard of) quit the Conservatives to join the Independent Group, citing TM the PM’s failure to quell the double-breasted factions of ERG and their relentless pursuit of a Screw You Brexit. This was now a bigger deal and the press reacted accordingly. The Daily Express on Wednesday could not have been more upset had Anna Soubry punched its grandmother: “No laughing matter” it bellowed, alongside a photo of Soubry sharing giggle about Jacob Rees-Mogg’s hair with fellow “turncoats” Heidi Allen and Sarah Wollaston. “Tory defectors march out with a vow to destroy the party”, posited The Telegraph, “Brexodus”, smiled the Mirror, not even trying to hide its glee and the Sun? The Sun gave the world: “Spilt hits the fan”. Well, quite.
So then, to business. Although this new “independent group” is not yet a political party, it’s going to have to become one if it’s going to win elections and make rosettes and get people cross about it; and because you’re an observant, switched-on type of person you’ll have noticed that all political parties have a name. Therefore, in the interests of giving a leg-up to an increasingly pluralised democracy the wonks here at The Friday Speed Read have got their branding expertise out the cupboard and have come up with a range of sobriquets for this new political animal.
New Independent Party, or “NIPS”. Possible slogans – “Pointing to the future” or “Tweaking UK Politics”.
Chukavision. Notes – Everyone loves and misses the Chuckle Brothers so this is in its favour but presents a problem if Umunna doesn’t become leader.
Chukanory. Possible slogan: “Telling a new story in UK politics”. Notes – see point above about leadership and does require people to be over 35 to get the pun on the fondly-remembered children’s TV show.
UKIG (“youkidge”). Notes – although memorable, it has too much of the whiff of Farage about it and no one, NO ONE wants that. (But thanks Ben for the suggestion).
Meghan Markle. Notes – Everyone loves Meghan Markle so everyone would love to vote for a party called Meghan Markle. However, she’s taken a bit of flak this week for flying in a private jet to New York for a baby shower so maybe it’s best to be cautious.
Del Boy Falling Through the Bar – Yep. Everyone loves Del Boy falling through the bar. Remainers, Leavers. Left. Right. Scots. Welsh. Men. Women. Everyone. It’s the perfect and ONLY solution .
So, there you go. At the next election, you’ll have the choice of Labour, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Del Boy Falling Through the Bar. Democracy is the real winner here. You’re welcome.
Oh goodness, the word count is looming again so back to business. The other major story this week was a hangover from last week as “Isis Bride” Shamima Begum continued to make headlines, not least for her comments that she’d “had a good time” with Islamic State and her request that the nation show her “some sympathy”. Oh yes, and she mentioned that the bombing of the Manchester Arena was “justified”. The Sun took a nuanced view of Begum’s wish to return to the UK: “How dare she?”, it screamed. It now seems that her UK passport will be cancelled but on Thursday, Jeremy Corbyn suggested that this would be a mistake and Begum and her infant child should be allowed back to the UK. He might be right. He might be very wrong. But credit where it’s due, it was a brave thing to say.
Quick! Other news! Zebras have stripes to stop flies landing on them; a giant bee thought extinct has been found in Indonesia; fashion legend Karl Lagerfeld died and might have left £150M to his cat Choupette; it’s REALLY WARM; M&S has named two of its dine-in deals after porn films and a tiny moon has been found orbiting Neptune at 20,000 mph which is ten times faster than the Earth travels but scientists can’t work out why it’s in such of a hurry and this would be the perfect place for a joke but there JUST ISN’T TIME.
Finally, The Brit Awards happened this week. Dresses were worn. And guitar men The 1975 were revealed on an advert as “Double Brit Winners” several hours before the ceremony at which they won two awards. “Fix!” shouted the public. “Whoops!” shouted the Brits marketing department. Except they used a different word. Anyway, single of the year was “Kiss” by Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa. The video for which features Dua Lipa standing on a small pile of sand in sparkly nightie. And you know what, why the hell not?
See you next week.