23 October 2018   |  Last Updated 24-07-2014 03:31

      Wednesday 23, July 2014

      BLOG: No ifs, no buts, no regeneration cuts


      With the General Election less than a year away, our very own co-political editor, turned independent candidate for MP of Salford and Eccles, Dan McLaughlin, looks into the demotion of former Education Secretary Michael Gove, and also explains his first spot of campaigning.

      As Michael Gove stared into the cold, expressionless eyes of Cyberleader Cameron, he knew that soon his body would soon explode into a flash of yellow light, and the entire DNA of The Educator would change in a split second.

      “You will be… DEMOTED,” groaned Cyberleader Cameron.

      The soul-sucking action Cyberleader Cameron was performing on Gove seemed to last an entire OFSTED inspection. As The Educator twisted and turned in agony, he looked back at the legacy of this incarnation: the fiasco of free schools, the superlative stress on teachers and getting rid of those pesky Americans on the English GCSE curriculum. He smiled, grimly.

      “Demotion, emotion, promotion, locomotion,” he whimpered.

      Hardly, ‘it’s the end – but the moment has been prepared for’; but it would simply have to do.

      The light omitted from The Educator was blinding. And in a single moment, Gove was gone.

      Dressed in Gove’s dirty laundry, Nicky Morgan appeared. The same renegade Time Lord, different face.

      “Bloody homosexuals!” she cried. Nothing changes.

      In the cabinet reshuffle, Gove was indeed gone – or simply moved. From The Educator to The Chief Whip, Michael may begin to channel Francis Urquhart. You couldn’t miss it: the little Daleks were tweeting all about it, and the Daily Mail used their TARDIS to travel back to medieval times with their feature on the incoming women (bludy wimmin!).

      PM David Cameron has been tidying up his Cabinet


      Yes, Cable had resigned and worryingly, our Defence Secretary became – erm – Foreign Secretary – but Gove’s 100 lines after class clearly resonated. And I would like to think that it was partly due to the demonstration held at Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens that previous Thursday. Mainly because I accidentally turned up for it.

      I was eating a sandwich. I have never really given much thought to eating a sandwich before. It was a perfectly nice sandwich. Now, no-one looks attractive when eating a sandwich. That’s why I do not take dates to Subway; plus the Freudian connotations of ordering a Footlong are – well – cringeworthy.

      But here I am, in a public place, eating a sandwich. All of a sudden, a switch turned on and I entered ‘politician mode’. What are the political consequences of eating this sandwich? I am sitting near a landmark – the Manchester Eye (which I was terribly disappointed to find out was not like the Eye of Sauron, but a ferris wheel). People are taking lots of pictures. I do not want to photobomb them with my sausage and bacon buttie. Oh bloody hell! It’s bacon and sausage. And it’s Ramadan. That’s what we call, in the business, a ‘double whammie’.

      I simply do not want to be Ed Miliband. I don’t think that Ed Miliband wants to be Ed Miliband. And there seems to be a high concentration of vegetarians about (you can tell). In fact, there seems to be high concentration of people about. When the Unison balloon hovers past the Big Wheel, I suddenly realise that I am in the middle of a demonstration.


      I have been a politician for about two weeks now. I have learnt that one must make the most out of a situation in this profession: be it a sex scandal (I wish), a demotion (this would require a job) or virtual obscurity (now we’re talking). Other than Facebook friends, who do not count as real people anyway, no-one else knows of my two-week tenure as a politician. I usually roll my eyes at the artificial world of networking but now this was the time to mingle.

      Improvisation is my forte. During my days of underage drinking, I would create a long and elaborate fiction on how I should frequent this alehouse, sans I.D. I once talked my way out of being caught urban exploring, into a press conference, and out, in and out again of a fight. For some reason, I am singing ‘The Great Bulls*****r’ to the tune of ‘The Great Pretender’. And this is a typical trait of a politician.

      I ran to the local shop. Well, I say ‘ran’. Considering the political implications of my grotesque facial expressions I conduct under vigorous exercise, I instead opted for walking at a pace.

      I suppose walking without a pace defeats the object of such physical activity. Even then I considered the local business or the big conglomerate, Spar. But I realised that Salford and Eccles is my constituency not Manchester. Manchester could go and f*** itself. So Spar it was! I picked up a cheap pad of paper and two bingo marker pens. With these tools, a masterpiece was produced:


      As a socially awkward person, I naturally feel out of place wherever I go. I ooze awkwardness. I was once an Irish dancer at an Indian gala; a working class gentleman amongst the privately education at Deansgate Locks (“£8 for a vodka and coke?! I didn’t order two, love!”); an atheist drunkard in the midst of teetotal Christians. I wish I could compare this to my standing next to the Bury Green Party during this demonstration, but I could not come up with an amusing anecdote to accompany this fact. Except that they had beards. Even the womenfolk. I’ve just realised that the Bury Green Party are dwarves from Tolkien’s Middle Earth. And that is bloody awesome.


      Hundreds gathered in Piccadilly Gardens protesting, well, anything Conservative. From Unite the Union to the Dwarfish Green Party, the TUC to FBU; I half expected the YMCA to turn up. As well as shamelessly self-publicising my party – as the Greens did – I could learn a lot about public speaking from these guys.

      It was all very well advertising my party – the British Rationalist Party – as the new centre-left, but I had to find out what it meant to be slightly west of centre. First of all, I have to address everyone as “comrades”. I had not heard this particular vocative address since James Bond’s Goldeneye. The last time I put on a Russian accent was…never. It always turns Glaswegian. I also had to call people “brothers and sisters”. But I’m not sure if that is true. Sure, the McLaughlin clan is a big family and there are cousins unaccounted for, but after ringing my father he assured me there are no missing McLaughlins.

      There were a lot of teachers there, which seemed rather strange since it was a schoolday. However, I was told they were on strike, to send a message to the government. I recommended texts or e-mails which would be quicker, but I was informed that they could be ignored. A valid point. I’m still waiting to hear back from Holland’s Pies about a rescheduled interview for British Pie Week. Who knows? I might hear back for next year’s celebrations in March 2015; I fear that I may be rather busy with an election an’ everything. The protesters said that the government were not listening to them. Note to self for campaign: actually listen to the voters.


      I was concerned. One teacher admitted that the alternative was hardly attractive but it could not get any worse. Indeed, the speakers were advising the crowd to vote for anyone BUT the Tories. I could be that attractive alternative – not a simple case of making do. The Lib Dems used to be the alternative centre-left vote but they formed a Faustian Pact with the Conservatives and New Labour become Tory 2.0. There’s a gap in the market. I asked this teacher for a vote. She told me that she would think about it.

      Passion and performance are wonderful factors to a speech, but what about substance? I once, albeit drunkenly, read a passage from the Fifty Shades of Grey in the style of Richard III. Whilst I received raucous applause and a standing ovation, the material was still utter drivel. I am, in no doubt, contesting the sincerity of the speeches made at this demonstration but they highlighted only the problem, not the solution. Maybe this collective needs someone to find that solution. I would quite like to be that person. I don’t know the answer yet but I will certainly have a good go at finding it.

      I would like to think that Michael Gove, in his post-regeneration hangover trapped in that Commons’ toilet, pondered the end of The Educator: free schools, extremism and perhaps a small crowd in Manchester. Amongst them, a new Time Lord with many names appeared: The Listener, The Alternative, The Problem-Solver, or simply Dan.

      By Dan McLaughlin

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