Many Happy Returns

Entry by: Paul McDermott

15th April 2016
Many Happy Returns

“So, how do you think you've done?”
John Kirwan – JRK to his friends and colleagues – shook the hand of one more enthusiastic wellwisher and excused himself courteously. He sank gratefully into an empty chair and gave the Echo journalist his undivided attention.
He loosened his tie and drained his coffee cup.
“It’s been intense, these last four weeks, but the Polls are closed now: we’ll hear the results from the Returning Officer in a couple of hours. I’m confident that voters in this and every other Polling Station in Liverpool will make what they believe to be the best choice for themselves and for this great city of ours!”
The boxes containing the votes cast had been removed to a secure back office for counting, but the Community Hall was still crowded. People stood in groups, chatting and drinking tea or coffee: few seemed inclined to wander off home
“Realistically, how do you rate your chances?”
The Echo had always attempted to be first past the post in releasing election results both locally and nationally, and had a good record of sensing which way the political wind was blowing. This was a completely different scenario. The question being asked tonight wasn’t about the colour of the Candidate’s rosette: the electorate was being asked to decide whether the UK ought to remain a member of the European Economic Union, or preserve the country’s identity and independence by opting to leave the cosy ‘Club’ of six core members which had mushroomed to almost thirty in the forty years since Britain’s membership had been approved.
JRK knew this would be the first question asked. He appeared comfortable as he replied:
“We’ve always known we’re ‘special’ here in Liverpool. Socially, commercially, even the way we speak and think: there’s nobody quite like us anywhere in the UK!”
“On a broader scale, it’s even more noticeable if you try to compare a Scouser with someone living hundreds, perhaps even thousands of miles away, at the farthest ends of Europe. Local issues, things that affect everyone in their everyday life, are more important than the precise colour of a cabbage or how straight your banana is – or isn’t!” he added, with his irrepressible (and much-photographed) confident grin.
“That’s why the Radical Regionalist party decided to field candidates throughout Merseyside, and only on Merseyside” he continued.
“Liverpool’s proud, independent spirit saw the city survive incredible odds during World War II: our own unique Identity as a Community made that possible! We’re committed to establishing a solid, local alternative method of supplying local people with what they need locally, making sure the grass roots are well established, spreading further afield as we grow in strength.”
“How will this be financed?”
“At the moment, Liverpool actually contributes more in revenue and taxes to London and the rest of the UK than it actually receives in Regional Development Funding and other ‘benefits’ (though I use that term with a certain amount of reluctance: Government cutbacks have hit this region harder than anywhere else, especially during the last decade). And we all know, the UK as a whole contributes more to Europe than we receive: over a billion pounds a month! We simply cannot afford to continue contributing at this level. Back to basics: we set our own house in order, then we can start to look elsewhere.”
“Sine King John awarded Liverpool its own Royal Charter in 1207, we’ve had few opportunities to decide how we govern our affairs. We are prepared to contribute what we consider a reasonable tariff to the national Exchequer to cover things such as road, rail and other transport networks: the mediæval ‘tithe’, or 10%, seems a fair offer. By setting our local taxes at the same level we will attract inward investment from others, both nationally and internationally, and see Liverpool grow stronger as a direct result.”
The Returning Officer was making his way from the back of the Hall towards the podium. An expectant murmur swelled from the room. JRK thanked the reporter for his time, and joined the other Candidates on the stage.
“I have the official recorded vote for the Broadgreen constituency: the total number of votes cast was 41,088. This represents a turnout of just over 78%. There were 257 spoilt votes … ”
“I will announce the results in alphabetical order, by party name. First, the Alliance Party …”
“ … and with a total of 22,564 votes, I declare John R. Kirwan, Radical Regi……”
The remainder of the Returning Officer’s remarks were drowned in the happy roar of approval from the supporters of all the candidates who had opted to remain in the Community Hall to hear the result announced at first-hand.
The Echo reporter was closest at hand, and first to offer his congratulations. After scribbling JRK’s response to the predictable questions regarding immediate plans, he asked one extra question which had been bothering him.
“Mr. Kirwan, may I ask you what name lies behind the R in JRK?”
John looked at him gravely for a long second, then turned on his most winning smile:
“Of course you may ask …!”