Tablecloth Swollenmember is probably the UK’s most prominent ordinary Member of Parliament. He has never held any of the high offices of state, or even any lowly cabinet position, despite being one of the longest serving Members of Parliament in Britain. As many former government ministers and political correspondents have pointed out, the UK has never elected a Prime Minister mad enough to consider offering Swollenmember a job in government. Which is surprising considering the people who have ended up as Great Britain’s Prime Minister. Apparently, even for them, there is a step too far.
The media know Swollenmember mostly as a reliable soundbite producer. Whatever the issue of the day, Swollenmember is guaranteed to have an opinion on it, usually a forthright and absolute one that has no shades of grey in it. However, what sets Swollenmember apart from all the other views for rent in the Houses of Parliament, is his willingness to hold any opinion at all, even if it is in direct contradiction to the opinion he held only minutes before when a rival newspaper or TV station rang him for a quote.
This makes Swollenmember very hard to pin down on the specifics and makes it almost impossible for anyone to agree with him for very long. Swollenmember will oppose whatever was last said, even if it was he who said it. Thus, Swollenmember has that very rare quality in his ability to make politics even slightly interesting. Obviously, this is why the media love him so much, mainly because he is guaranteed to create the controversy that they need to get people to watch or read what would otherwise be pieces with the lowest audience ratings in the known universe.
A TV programme that features Swollenmember will often earn an audience triple or even quadruple the size a typical political TV programme usually gets, mainly because of all the politically opposing activists who watch just so they can be outraged by whatever it is that Swollenmember has an opinion on. For his political opposition, it is essential that they oppose him whatever he says. Then they can sit warm and smug in the comfortable feeling of knowing that if they oppose Swollenmember then they must be right and on the side of the good guys.
However, Swollenmember himself has lots of support from those who have little or no knowledge of or interest in politics, except that they instinctively support whoever annoys the political activists on the opposing side to them. This is why despite his ideological incoherence and lack of any firm political conviction, Swollenmember has such overwhelming support, as well as such significant opposition.
However, some career Politicians are concerned that Swollenmember is a dangerous force in politics, by making it too attractive to ordinary people. They fear that if ordinary people – through the antics of Swollenmember – start to take an interest in politics they will begin to see what is really going on and do their best to put a stop to it. Despite this, his opposition needs him to make themselves feel self-righteous, even though – deep down – even they realise that politics only ever makes things worse, never better. Meanwhile, those who support him need him to say what they think, no matter how incoherent and ridiculous.
This is why politics needs Swollenmember so much.