It’s that time of year when children agonize over their present list. The lucky ones get to visit Santa’s grotto to tell him in person what they want for Christmas. Our party leaders have been especially keen to meet Santa this year with a General election coming up. Their conversations have not gone quite as they hoped. When Santa came to Westminster he was in an argumentative mood. I have obtained a transcript for greater accuracy.
First to arrive was Nicola Sturgeon. She thought Christmas was going to be early this year so she did not want to miss her big ask. As so often, the person who had the furthest to travel got there before the start. When Santa saw her, she said:
” What I would like for Christmas is an increased SNP membership, clear leadership in the Scottish polls, and the certainty that we can win all the seats in Scotland in the General Election. That’s all I want for Christmas. It’s not asking a lot, as I lead the only party that has Scottish in its name, and the only party which really cares about my country. We need this to stop all those English MPs going back on their word over Home Rule”
Santa looked cross, and replied:
“Last year I gave you the wonderful present you had been asking for, a referendum on Scottish independence. You didn’t look after that present and managed to lose the vote. What you are now proposing is I should give you effectively the same present again this year in the hope that you could look after it better. If I grant your wish all your SNP MPs will claim they now have every right to independence because they have just won an election campaigning for Out. I have to ask you to think again, and try and find a present you would like which matches with the settled will of the Scottish people to stay within the Union”
Next to arrive, fresh from a pub in Thanet, was Nigel Farage. He had decided to be moderate in his requests in the hope that Santa would be kindly to him. As he spoke, however, the significance of the moment and the opportunity started to overtake him:
“Hi there Santa. You’re doing a great job. I don’t want to make your life too difficult. So all I want for Christmas is momentum going in to the General election. You know the sort of thing – a few good opinion polls, the odd Tory defection. You see I reckon I need just 30 seats in the Commons to make me the third largest party. Then I can decide who the Prime Minister should be, and require him to hold a referendum, and then get us out of the EU and then we can close our borders, and then everyone will be so grateful to UKIP we will be on a roll…”
Santa was dumbfounded by the gap between the ambition and the current polls and Parliamentary forces of Mr Farage. So he said in a friendly but slightly patronising way:
“Well Mr Farage last year I gave you exactly that same present. You have had two defections, some good opinion polls and you came first in the European elections which I thought were your best opportunity to make your point. What have you and your colleagues managed to do for the UK now you are the largest UK party at Brussels? What single law have you stopped or expenditure have you cancelled? What progress have you made on changing the UK’s border arrangements? If I granted your wish, how do I know that you would be any part of a new government, and that you could carry out the things you promise? I think you need to choose a more suitable present, that is not the same as last year.
By now The Deputy Prime Minister was getting angry, because he was having to wait outside whilst Santa talked to Mr Farage . It seemed like salt in the wounds of the Clegg/Farage debates, which some had dared say Mr Farage had won. His wait came on top of poll after poll showing UKIP well ahead of the Lib Dems in the fight for one of the minor places in the next Parliament. At last he was told Santa would see him. Mr Clegg asked
“I don’t want to ask for much for myself this Christmas. I would just like you to make sure the British people understand how difficult it has been for my party in this coalition. You know, we are not the sort of people who believe in cutting welfare or other spending. We do not like having to keep public sector pay and pensions down. We would be much happier imposing new taxes on the rich, but the Tories wouldn’t let us do any of these things, We only went along with all this because we thought it was grown up and responsible to help form a government, but we do think it would be very unfair if people thought we were to blame for anything the public thought was wrong.”
Santa appeared dismissive as he came to reply. “I cannot possibly give you such a valuable present. Of course all political leaders would dearly love to be absolved of all blame for what they and their parties have done, but the whole point of democracy is they have to stand or fall by what they did. It certainly helps them if what they did squares with what they said, but that is all too rare these days.It was your Dr Cable that put through the unpopular tuition fees proposal when you had all promised the opposite in the election. It was your Mr Davey who pressed on with dear energy, making it difficult for families to pay their power bills. It was you yourself who wasted so much time on constitutional changes which the public did not want. Your whole party said they would help get the deficit down, now they all want to distance themselves from any difficult decisions. Think again, Mr Clegg, about a present appropriate to your straitened circumstances”
Tomorrow we will see what the famous duo, Ed and Dave, asked for.