Lions and bears and British politicians

Mark Harper is coming dead last in the race to lead Britain’s Conservative Party if the bookies are to be believed. They don’t conduct a poll, just take bets, but it’s what we’ve got by way of a measurement. So to lift his chances, he held a press conference, and somehow or other his campaign released his speech in advance. It began, “Now this isn’t going to be that scripted.”

So that went well.

Maybe what happened next was an attempt to recover and maybe it wasn’t, but either way he invited journalists to ask any question they wanted, promising he’d answer it. It may have really been an unscripted moment.

My best guess is that he hoped they’d ask about his drug use so he could say he’d never touched the stuff. Why? Because his fellow leadership candidate Michael Gove had recently been outed as having used cocaine before enforcing assorted anti-drug regimes on other people, including prison inmates and teachers. And once Gove was outed, all the other leadership candidates felt the need to out themselves. If you missed all that, you can catch up with it here and here.

Unfortunately, Harper had already outed himself as never having done any drugs, so the question was boring.

Never bore a group of journalists.

I can’t quite reassemble the order of what happened next from the articles I’ve read and it doesn’t really matter, although it would help me write a coherent sentence or two. Let’s just say it involved journalists, electronic messages, and an attempt to come up with the most absurd possible question. One nominee was, “How many gallons of sewage will the Thames Tideway tunnel be able to handle every nine days?” Others were who would win in a fight between an ostrich and and emu and what the value of pi is to the nearest seven decimal places. 

My favorite is, “Would he rather fight 1,000 duck-sized horses, or one horse-sized duck?”

Eventually, someone asked out loud who would win if a lion fought a bear.

He did answer, as promised. I don’t remember which he picked. I doubt anyone much cares.

And that, my friends, is British politics in a nutshell. With the emphasis on nut.


I know I’ve broken my pattern of posting weekly, but (talk about drugs) I just can’t leave some of this stuff alone. And you need to know about it. You know you do.

63 thoughts on “Lions and bears and British politicians

  1. Well, I suppose they might as well get hypothetical questions as most of the answers are as useful as they are to the real questions.
    Eg. ‘How do you envisage the Irish will border work?’
    ‘Oh, specially trained leprechauns armed with very technological alternative arrangements patrolling the border.’

    Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks for not spotting the mistake. There isn’t a border. Well, there is, but there’s not. Or there won’t be. But just in case there is, which no one wants to say there will be, so they don’t even admit the thought that there might have to be one, they’re probably actually trying to source 1000 duck-sized horses for the leprechauns to ride. They cover more ground faster that way, and they’ll need to cover a lot of ground, not to mention over 100 road crossing points, when there’s not a border but there is.

        I think the question regarding the horses and ducks came from the comedian Richard Herring who has done a couple of books now on hypothetical ‘Emergency Questions’.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’m grateful for your explanation. Here I’d been thinking that the situation wasn’t under control and never would be, but clearly it is. Wiser minds than mine are at work.

          I may need to get a copy of Herring’s books. Dark days are coming. We’ll need a laugh.

          Liked by 1 person

    • I wish I could make up something this crazy, but it’s beyond me, so yes, it’s real. And I agree: Make them all answer the same questions. And please, oh please, make it the one about the ducks and the horses.

      Liked by 1 person

        • You’re right. Completely. Some years back–we’re measuring in decades now, I was working on a novel about a radio talk show host who got bored one night and started arguing that the Vietnam War never happened, it was all a massive coverup of she had no idea what but was having too much fun to care. I started it, really, because I had a job I wanted to quit. Not that I thought publishing it would make enough money to let me quit, just that I was playing with outrageous ways a person could walk off a job. My talk show host didn’t walk off, she got famous. It took an age to find a publisher for the thing, and as time went on I started to worry that reality would outstrip the craziest thing I could make up.

          I wasn’t far from wrong.

          Excuse me. As herd of very small horses just wandered onto my front yard. I have to go out and see what’s happening.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel I must put in a word for our system of picking a new leader in the UK. A couple of quid here and there to hire a hall, a few leaked confessions to prove you are a near normal human being , two or three ballots and hey presto in a month a new leader! Perhaps you should have a word with the Democrats in the USA?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. With all the problems with politics in the US, I don’t know if it makes me feel better or worse to read about the going ons – or goings on- can’t decide which is right- in UK.
    On one hand it feels better to know UK is also having problems, we are not the only one – or ones – but on the other hand it feels bad to know the problems are widespread.

    And this is Thursday and I am all disoriented. What will I do tomorrow. Should I look forward to your usual Friday post. I like order in my life and things I can count on.

    Should I say have a good week as usual or a good day?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. And he didn’t come last in the end, though as the three who dropped out polled 9, 10 and 11 it was a close run thing for the wooden spoon. He was in good company with the other two who didn’t make the cut: a pair of utter cretins. Mind you, that could be levelled at all 10 of them.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Further on the subject of bizarre answers : it was announced today that Sarah Huckaby Sanders, the White House SpokesCreature, is leaving her job. Trump wants her to run for governor of Arkansas (her home state.)

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Ellen, you have me sitting on the edge of my seat in anticipation of more and more amusing and, yet, frightening comments on the supposed cream of Britain making asses of themselves. I am so glad I have become a New Zealander!

    Liked by 2 people

    • New Zealand looks better with every passing day. I think Boris Johnson’s team has tied him up in a basement somewhere so he can’t get out in public and say anything stupid. So far, he’s the only candidate refusing to take part in a public debate. It may be the only wise move he ever made.

      Liked by 1 person

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