The problem with general elections is they’re far too general – it’s time to shake things up

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak with Darlington Council leader Jonathan Dulston (far right), Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen (second from right) and Darlington MP Peter Gibson (far left) in Firth Moor during a visit to Darlington, County Durham
Are potholes a higher priority than overcrowded prisons? Please answer yes or no - Stefan Rousseau/PA

Have you heard there’s going to be a general election later this year, Mr Sunak? Ha ha ha! No, I said ELECTION with an ‘ell’. As in we’re all going to ell in a handcart.

While I reserve a special loathing for the sort of people who laugh nervously for no good reason, apparently my Paxmanesque sighs of irritation are equally if oppositely (appositely?) vexing.

But believe it or not, it’s quite a recent tic. For a great many years, I was a woman of boundless patience and bloody-minded-verging-on-downright-remorseless goodwill. But to paraphrase the late, great Kenneth Williams: Infamy! Infamy! Politics and the causes of politics have all got it infamy!

Let’s talk brass tacks. You don’t have to be Brenda from Bristol to grasp it’s high time general elections had a rebrand. For a start, they are far too general.

It’s hard enough to care about the local elections on May 2 when a perfectly intelligent friend of mine will be voting for a new police commissioner in her shire.

By her own admission, she can barely navigate the new doorbell security system her husband installed last weekend, so how can she possibly gauge who would be the best Freemason for the job? Joke. Maybe.

People lose their sense of humour and their sense of proportion at election time even though, as the great physicist Niels Bohr pointed out: “There are some things so serious you have to laugh.”

So, it will be with a po-face that I decide on a new Mayor of London, a London Assembly member for North East constituency and a London member of the London Assembly. How fun is that?

Unfortunately, I refuse to vote for a party whose leader (you know who you are, Keir) says demonstrably stupid things like, “99.9 per cent of women haven’t got a penis”, thereby taking 99.99 per cent of women for fools.

The Tories have made such a fine fist of ruining (Ha ha ha! No, Mr Sunak I said RUINING) the country I think they need to be put out to pasture among the angry and beleaguered farmers at their wits’ end due to government-sanctioned bullying by the supermarkets.

Over to the Lib Dems. Hmm – Sir Ed Davey insists women “quite clearly” can have a penis, as though he’s had a good look personally – I’m not sure where he’s been carrying out his due diligence, but it ought to be shut down.

The Greens? No prizes for guessing what their policy is on the modern mix-and-match version of The Gender Guess Who Game. There are lots more hats in the electoral ring and for legal reasons I am obliged to point you towards a list. But only if you’ve taken your beta blockers.

Oh, and a word to the wise, London Mayor hopeful Count Binface – rename yourself Count Weekly Bin Collections Guaranteed Face and you’ll be a shoo-in. Which reminds me: my council now wants £78 a year to pick up the green garden bin at a time and place of its choosing. Makes me proud to be a net zero citizen, dammit.

But back to democracy; how much more informative and useful it would be if instead of placing a cross in a box, we got to do one of those customer feedback surveys that could then be collated and analysed by AI – which would tell us what we want, what we really, really want. And without wishing to second guess the results, I have a strong hunch it won’t be “zig-a-zig ah”. So here goes:

  • Do you want to maintain The Triple Pension Lock?
    Strongly Agree / Agree / Neutral / Disagree / Strongly Disagree

  • Do you want human excrement floating in your garden?
    Strongly Agree / Agree / Neutral / Disagree / Strongly Disagree
    (You may only choose one of these: yes to pensions or yes to poo. Sorry, no, we can only take your first answer. Go buy a long-handled fish net.)

  • Striking doctors or striking teachers? 
    Up to you. No, we’re not including train drivers.

  • Are potholes a higher priority than overcrowded prisons? 
    Sorry we don’t devise the questions – oh hang on…wait.

  • Would you rather your mum waited 24 hours in a hospital corridor for a bed or waited three years at home for a telephone appointment? 
    Answer Us Now!

  • Keep the 100ml liquid rule on flights or keep the Government’s Rwanda policy? 
    Interesting. Funny how convenience trumps ideology once the scent of 30 SPF hits the electorate’s nostrils. Weaklings.

  • Would you rather be torn apart by baboons or reduced to anguished penury by the highest tax burden since forever?

OK, stop weeping, hand over your papers now. We’ll feed them into a supercomputer or a composter and come back with your new PM. Trust the process; it’s not dissimilar to Channel Four’s The Dog House.

Every week, the smiling charity experts have a cuppa and a chat as they select just the right second-hand mutt for the lonely singleton, the grieving family or the millennials who think they are getting a practice baby. Spoiler alert: as there’s an appalling generational sex drought going on, they may as well get two and complete their family straight away.

Sometimes it all works out and everyone lives waggily ever after. And sometimes it doesn’t and they don’t. The unfortunate thing about democracy is we can’t simply give our elected representatives back the minute they start making an unholy mess…

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