For the 2005 general election, I had a party featuring a gigantic cheesecake with differentiated segments by allegiance. It contained no purple, which you could call leftie bias, but it genuinely didn’t seem necessary. It certainly wasn’t because I couldn’t think of a purple fruit. The Lib Dems did badly out of that, but mainly because you should never put banana on a cheesecake; they did fine in 2010, when I represented them with lemon macaroons. No colourful theming for 2015; the stakes were too high, and I decided that it was a waste of soft fruit. Just booze and crisps and, by 10.15, depressed people; exactly like 1992, in fact, before we discovered finger food.
At 1 a.m., I went into Adam Boulton’s programme on Sky News to talk results with Harry Cole. He looked preternaturally young and pretty, and caked in make-up, so that momentarily everything seemed fun and reckless, like in the musical Cabaret. Then the seismic Scottish result came in, Paisley and Renfrewshire South, Douglas Alexander beaten by Mhairi Black. After that, the SNP juggernaut would pause for no one, least of all me and Harry. We went home without appearing, and I found my Mr alone on the sofa, surrounded by Doritos. ‘It’s probably good that you were bumped,’ he said, kindly. ‘You were too drunk to go on telly.’ Thank God for the SNP. Sort of.
I have never seen the school playground as depressed as it looked the next morning. My local primary is also the school nearest the Sun’s political editor, Tom Newton Dunn, who told me that he couldn’t send his children there because, when he’d asked about sports, the head teacher had said, ‘We don’t really do sport, only half an hour of street dance.’ That always seemed hilarious, until it transpired that we had five more years of a culture in which it is totally routine to denigrate state schooling for fabricated reasons. In reality, the children do far too much sport and their street dancing is pretty rudimentary. The Hungarian teaching assistant and I started crying, and a Greek friend outlined a detailed plan for an independent London. The main beef I have with bloody immigrants is that they don’t have a vote.
From there, I went to Excel, to interview the owners of the world’s most accomplished show-jumping rabbits. A truly gifted and, of course, trained rabbit show-jumper can clear a hurdle half a metre in height and 80cm long. ‘A new rabbit doesn’t have a hope,’ champion Karin Molin said, mordantly. ‘Do you think he’ll do that right now?’ I asked each owner in turn, inevitably getting the rabbit’s gender wrong most of the time. ‘Oh, no, no, no,’ each replied, ‘rabbits only jump when they want to jump.’ Sweden is the world leader and inventor of this sport, in which totally unbiddable creatures may or may not do what they’re told. It delights me to think what the Sun would make of it.
That evening, I went to the Dulwich literary festival, to talk politics with the equality colossus Professor Danny Dorling. I know. You cannot have a colossus of equality. Let’s just say he is no better at talking about equality than I am (he is better). We plan to do a two-handed stand-up, where I’m Ayn Rand and he’s Howard Roark, and we expostulate through comical argumentation how ridiculous is their worldview. I think we might both have to lose a bit of weight before we embark on this.
Saturday I went to a discussion that I thought was called Radical Hope but was actually called Days of Hope (Radical Hope is next week). We talked about the history of the labour movement and the success of Syriza, the progressive set against the nationalist motivations of the SNP and the 1945 rallying cry to ‘vote as red as you can’. David Edgar — looking authentically hopeful — talked about the ‘melon’ vote, where you vote Green but are really a red, and the ‘fig’ vote, where you vote purple but get a Green (this seems radically unlikely both as a hope and as an outcome; also, figs are brown, to my mind). He raised the Lib Dems, and whether there would ever again be people who’d vote for them in the hope of co-operation with Labour. ‘What fruit is that?’ someone asked. ‘Stop oppressing me with my own fruit metaphor!’ Edgar replied. Papaya. It’s a papaya.
Still at the Day of Hope, Neal Lawson, head of the pressure group Compass, said: ‘The problem with the Labour party is that they were all surfer and no wave. There was Ed Miliband, with his little boogie board, wondering why it wouldn’t take off. There was nothing underneath it.’ ‘I like that,’ I said, ‘can I steal it?’ ‘It’s not stealing, it’s sharing.’ That’s movement-building, that is: never stealing, always sharing.
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Zoe Williams writes for the Guardian. She is the author of Get It Together: Why We Deserve Better Politics.
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