Social feed 5: virtual reality

A satirical commentary on the pigswill we’re fed by an MP’s social media. Feasting at the trough: ‘Babe’

BREAKING NEWS: The Conservative Party has made a significant investment in Facebook’s Metaverse. First amongst Devon MPs to stake his claim to a piece of alternative reality is, of course, the Captain of Complicity, the Superman of Silence himself – Anthony Mangnall, MP for Totnes & South Devon and La La Land.

Since Christmas, Mangnall’s social feed has been delivering an alternative news commentary, entirely separate from the real world. According to Mangnall’s feed there has been no public uproar over Tory corruption, no evidence of lies, no Christmas parties, no Prime Minister misleading the House of Commons, and no pathetic and spinelessly shrivelled non-apology that accepted no true accountability.

Mangnall’s social media feeds have become truly of the Metaverse!

Instead of risking any awkward interaction with ‘real’ constituents, Mangnall has opted to pop off a series of arms’ length, safe and blinkered posts spanning the following urgent and topical areas of interest: careers guidance, ‘Levelling Up’ for Brixham, appearing on BBC Spotlight, loopholes on second homes – twice, just in case no-one got the subtle message – and ultrafast broadband. It was almost as if the entire real-world news output of the past three weeks concerning the rabid exploits of ‘Big Dog’ had not existed at all.

Strangely, even his ‘Highlights of my week’ digest – Mangnall’s superbly tedious Facebook equivalent of an opened box of Quality Street from which all the edible chocs have gone – failed to feature any news of Boris the ‘Big Dog’ and his Big Lies to Parliament and the people of the UK.

Like ‘Big Dog’ – the nickname no-one uses except Boris Johnson himself – Mangnall is also never referred to by any of his constituents as ‘Rising Star’ (see Social Feed 4: Pre-Christmas Porkies), and he continues to show them the reasons why. One of these reasons is his undemocratic refusal to engage with them meaningfully on any issues that really matter to them – unless those issues matter to him as well.

Let’s take a look at 13 January: this was the day after ‘Big Dog’, tail between his legs, had to be dragged by his cross owners into a bruising Prime Minister’s Questions. He had been hiding in the kennel for a while, hoping we’d all forgotten what a naughty boy he’d been – the slippers he’d chewed, the legs he’d humped and turds he’d laid.

But in Mangnall’s Metaverse, things were very different!

On 13 January, instead of a comment on ‘Big Dog’, any kind of apology or acknowledgement of the fact ‘Big Dog’ had been merrily humping the nation’s leg, Mangnall posted about careers advice!

Constituents were treated to their very own Oliver Twist giving the benefit of his worldly experience on how he “tried different jobs on”. Finding a job as a privileged public-school boy may, for Mangnall, be little more notable than being fitted for a waistcoat in Savile Row, but the reality for most young people in Britain 2022 is vastly different.

As if rattling off an after-dinner speech at a Pall Mall club, Mangnall riffed on his own life as an example of someone who has done what, in his privileged opinion, is really needed – the opportunity to ‘try and test different jobs’. It transpired that first he was a waiter in Royal Hospital, as well as in the Queen’s Gallery, and then went on to be a shepherd on the Isle of Mull before becoming a shipbroker. It was, in short, the kind of jobs advice that only those who can afford it could consider.

The sad reality (not Mr Mangnall’s current strong point) is that for many young people in Conservative Britain, the critical issue is far from ‘trying and testing different jobs’ with the safety net of a wealthy family to fall back on: the comfort blanket of privilege that cossets the overfed and pampered whims of the public-school-educated. The reality is that young Brits are living in a country where over 4.2 million children are living in poverty. They don’t have the advantage of being able to ‘try before you buy’.

Babe also notes that young people would do well to avoid getting sucked into Mangnall’s politically expedient attempts to increase jobs in the fishing industry. The government has hardly covered itself in glory in the way they have behaved to sectors such as fishing – cutting them adrift over Brexit.

Instead, the government should be putting money into the youth clubs, family support, social services, educational and housing apparatus that the Conservatives have dismantled over the past 10 years, to reverse as swiftly as possible the years of austerity and decimated budgets that have almost destroyed young people’s local job prospects.

As an educated man, Mangnall knows only too well that poverty and social deprivation are the biggest barriers to getting a decent job: the nasty, corrupt Conservative government that he silently and complicitly props up, the one he likes to pretend does only good, and has no ‘Big Dog’ at the helm, has stripped away all the infrastructure and funding that would have given young people the opportunities they deserve, rather than an uncertain future sorting scallops at the mercy of governments such as his.

Babe implores young people: get as far away as you can from the tissue of lies and corruption that surrounds this mob of privileged poseurs.

And in response to Mangnall’s fatuous social media thread on career guidance? 

A furious constituent posted, quoting the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice:

“The Conservative MPs that are keeping him in power disgrace their country.

Their claims that we need Sue Gray to tell us whether rules were broken are as laughable as they are insulting.

They must immediately remove Boris Johnson from power.

Anything less is an endorsement of this disgraceful behaviour.”

Another wrote:

“Why don’t you comment on the Christmas parties your boss attended while people were arrested and fined, and people lost loved ones?”

It all proves what everyone knows – that the problem with ‘Big Dogs’ is that they do similarly-sized turds, and the Downing Street garden is littered with them. And sure enough, on 14 January it was revealed that Downing Street staff had been drinking alcohol into the early hours at two events the night before Prince Philip’s socially distanced funeral at which the Queen sat in a pew, entirely alone.

Surely the true-blue Conservative, Anthony Mangnall MP, would have much to say about that treasonous activity, poison to the soul of any monarchy-supporting dyed-in-the-wool Conservative!

But – in Mangnall’s newly found alternative reality – this news was far from important.

Instead, relieved at the opportunity to blow hard about his own achievements (a favourite pastime), Mangnall wrote:

“The Government has today announced that from April 2023, second home-owners will have to prove holiday lets are being rented out for a minimum of 70 days a year in order to access small business rates relief.

This positive news comes after a long campaign where I worked with Cllr Judy Pearce, leader of South Hams District Council, to push for these changes.”

Sadly for Mangnall, even this glimmer of competency was challenged by a constituent, for whom a mere 70 days out of 365 was too low a threshold:

“It’s about time AirBnB was banned or people actually pay tax on their income to go towards social housing for local people.”

Another questioned:

“That’s a good step forward but are legitimate holiday letting owners still able to claim small business allowance, meaning they don’t pay council tax or business tax? Who pays for their bins to be emptied for example? Is it still the council-tax-paying residents?”

Another constituent replied:

“People remember that during the pandemic over £20m was handed out by SHDC in the form of government grants to these business-rated second homes. How patronising now to be told it’s all about levelling up – bit late for that; you’ve already given them the money.”

Poor, young, privileged Mango. Even from his virtual reality residence in Pixellated Portofino his pesky constituents just won’t swallow the ‘red meat’ offal he feeds them!

And as we now chow down on the inevitable slew of rushed populist ‘Operation Red Meat’ policies being fed to us through social media, and suddenly-enthusiastic Tory television appearances designed to deflect damage from ‘Big Dog’, keep this in mind:

This Conservative government has only one priority:

It’s not you.

It’s not me.

It’s not decency or integrity.

It’s not moral leadership.

The only priority is simply to stay in power.

Anything else is just Big Dog’s shaggy-dog story.

Grub’s up!

Babe X