March 16th finally broke across our green and sceptered isles. It was a cold and miserable Winter morning as Kaya Mar, wrapped up warmly against the damp air, the comforting memory of the six Pop Tarts he had for breakfast quickly fading from his mind, trudged up Whitehall towards Downing Street clutching a large oil painting almost as big as him.
The dense uncaring grey clouds above his head blotted out any vestigal hope of sunshine and were only rivalled in their impersonal malice by thick, coiling plumes of carcinogenic diesel particulates belching from the wobbling super-heated rectums of passing red Boris Buses delivering herds of low-paygrade civil servants to their anonymous cubbyholes distributed all over the monolithic grey Portland Stone cliffs of Whitehall.
Today was Budget Day, and a jaded nation of destitute families on zero hour contracts was holding its collective breath in the almost child-like anticipation that this time… this time… we would all be gambolling ecstatically, bare-footed through verdant fields thick with the lush Green Shoots of Recovery which shiny-faced spiv Chancellor of the Exchequer the Right Honourable George Gideon Giles Osborne (Former towel-folder and multi-millionaire heir-apparent to the baronetcy of Ballintaylor and Ballylemon whose family motto emblazoned on their heraldic crest is “Pax in bello” – Peace in war) had assured us all was just over the horizon – if only they weren’t all too weak and underachieving from eating food from the local foodbank which even the emaciated family dog won’t touch – to crawl over the next hill towards it.
After the politically humiliating climb-down that George Osborne had been forced to make at the end of 2015 by a rebellious House of Lords over his plans to cut Family Tax Credits for 800,000 poor, working families, there was an expectation – absurd in hindsight – that the Chancellor would finally have seen that his ideological obsession with dismantling the country’s Social Welfare security net was driving large swathes of the country into poverty and homelessness. Maybe this Budget would see a glimmer of hope for millions. Maybe this time… Maybe pigs will fly…
Taking up his position outside the ominous, heavily guarded entrance to Downing Street with his new painting (which portrays Osborne as a lame duck Chancellor perched tenuously on a ‘Brexit‘ ballot box on unsettled, choppy waters, holding his red Budget Box which only contains an axe and waving the flag of the European Union), Kaya nodded as a slight, familiar greeting to the armed police officers peering through the bars of the huge black gates, and he noticed satisfyingly, that none of them yet were wearing privatised G4S uniforms, and comfortingly, they still clutched Heckler and Koch semi-automatic machine guns and not the refurbished World War I Lee-Enfield rifles with fixed bayonet favoured by cost-conscious Serco Services.
Before long, photographers from the international press agencies arrived, looking for anything to add a spark of interest to the press’ obligatory Budget Day coverage. They fluttered around Kaya and his colourful painting, chuckling, nodding in agreement as they understood the painting’s symbolism and clicking away with their behemoth cameras before rushing off in search of a bit of free Wi-Fi in a nearby nationally-franchised coffee shop (whose parent company is registered in the British Virgin islands so they don’t have to pay tax on their UK earnings) from where they could send the photos off to their picture agencies. The actual Budget wouldn’t be announced for several hours yet, and everybody wants to get some photos in early in hope of sales on a big domestic news day.
As the photographers sipped their tepid coffed-flavoured milk and munched on their increasingly-shrinking raisin croissants they tapped away furiously on their laptops, occasionally looking around suspiciously at their competitors and wondered “Which one of us will get that single photo that will go round the World? Will it be me this time? Little Timmy needs new shoes and we haven’t eaten meat for a month…”
Meanwhile, his objective achieved, Kaya made his way back to the leafy suburbs, getting home just in time for the live coverage of the Chancellor’s statement in the packed House of Commons. Settling down on the welcoming sofa with his lunch – a lump of slightly stale bread and a small block of Morrison’s “I-Can’t-Believe-You-Think-This-Is-Actually-Cheese” – he stared at the screen in disbelief as Osborne – grinning like a Bonobo that had just discovered it’s own genitals – announced his political tour de force: a tax on sugary soft drinks to be introduced in 2 years time, the cost of which can be passed on to the public.
As the Tory MPs behind the Chancellor erupted into a cacophony of approving howls and cheers, Kaya struggled to make out what Osborne was rushing to read out under cover of the noise of the MPs… something about slashing payments to severely disabled people… forced academisation of all schools… a laughable Living Wage which actually isn’t a Living Wage, yet is cynically calculated to make sure that anyone working more than nine and a half minutes a week would no longer qualify for Tax Credits, thereby implimenting his cruel Autumn Budget cuts by the back door… an extra £1 billion to give to the oil and gas industries because they donate so much to the Conservative Party… it was impossible to make out what was being said.
Kaya sighed and pointed the remote control at the TV and switched it off. It was all so pointless trying to understand Osborne’s slippery twists and turns, and his lunch was making him feel sleepy as he sunk back into the welcoming embrace of the chair. He would just have to wait until tomorrow and see what those wise Internets people had to say about it all, he thought to himself as his eyelids closed… “Yes, the Internets will know”, he murmured. “They know everything…”