Chapter I: A Debate?
Harry Cone had always felt comfortable speaking to great masses of people, since, as a boy, he had joined his father, Winston, when the father did the same. His father had used to speak to poor people and make fun of them, teaching his son the ways. Now Mr. Cone had his first debate in the campaign, as he debated the Liberal opponent in his constituency, Sir Isaac Oldton. The constituency was, of course, Redcliff, Cone’s own county. Sir Oldton began the debate with the following opening statement:
“Does it not bother you, people of Redcliff, that there are, within Redcliff alone, almost ten-thousand people living in poverty? It bothers me. And I plan to act. So, people, elect me and I will work for you!” There were more to it, but Cone, along with half the audience, dozed off.
Then came Mr. Cone’s impressive opening statement, which he delivered after clearing his throat, repeatedly and loudly, to wake everyone up:
“Look at me. Look at my opponent. Now, look at me again. Do you see this thing on top of my head? That, my dear friends, is a top hat, as I am sure you are all aware of. Now, look at young Sir Oldton, that poor fellow. Do you see his top hat? Of course you do, and of course you would prefer not to. Because, as I am certain you gentlemen can see, his top hat is worth less than £500. That, my friends, is less than one-fourth of my top hats worth. It is a disgrace, I say! This means that “Sir” Oldton here does not care much for his top hat, therefore, by extension, he does not care for the Empire at all. Is that someone who you want in Parliament?
Let me now describe to you what poor “Sir” Oldton’s priorities are. This “sir” would rather spend his money on “helping” poor people, rather than using it for more gentlemanly, greater, things, such as a decent top hat, or twice the amount of servants one requires. Wealth that one does not show, is no wealth at all, I say!
Furthermore, Sir Oldton has taken a strong position against spreading civilisation across the globe. Acquiring colonies is beneficial both for the Empire and the uncivilised peo... Natives living there.
It is extremely important that we stand by the old ways of the British Empire; such has been our tradition for hundreds of years, something that Sir Oldton would undo. I sincerely hope and pray that our Empire will stand even stronger a thousand years from now. Rule Britannia!”
The crowd erupted into wild cheering (by British standards, meaning they slightly raised their voices and said Good Show! and That’s splendid!). Some of them started staring rather angrily at Sir Oldton, who had sat down, with a disappointed expression in his eyes. He had also removed his top hat, and tried to hide it behind his chair, but he only looked even worse without it. And besides, one could see it if one looked carefully.
Now, the moderator said that Mr. Cone and Oldton should answer questions from the audience, with Oldton starting. A man in the audience arose and asked:
“Mr. Oldton, how would you end poverty?”
Mr. Oldton, shaking slightly, raised his voice and said:
“Well, one would suggest that we start by aiding the people in poverty by giving them food and lodging, until such a time comes when they may provide for themselves. Of course, this would require a slight increase in taxes...” The crowd interrupted by boo-ing loudly, in a British way. The moderator turned to Cone, gesturing to him to answer:
“Ridiculous, I say! Utterly and completely ridiculous!” The crowd cheered. “This is even worse than his top hat, and that says a lot. Oh, and I can still see it, you should hide it better.” The moderator laughed and applauded, soon followed by the audience, before he realised that he was supposed to be neutral. Cone continued: “I would go ahead suggest that we do not end poverty! If someone is poor, and does not want to be, then they can just stop being poor, for example, by getting a job, I hear that helps, never had one myself, though... In any case, why should we help the poor? It is none of our concern. Get an education and a job, poor people. Besides, poor people are fun to look at; I built a house in the slums for that reason. I do not want to have done that for nothing. Let poor people be poor!” The crowd raised their hats in awe and amusement, cheering quite loudly this time. The moderator told Cone: “Wow, you are quite good at this.”
Before Cone could thank him, someone in the audience exclaimed: “I know a poor person. He is nice, I don’t get why we shouldn’t help him?” A load gasp went through the room and the moderator, trembling with anger, barely restraining himself from screaming, said: “Then what, sir, are you doing here? Police!” A number of policemen rushed inside, grabbed the man and took him to jail, where he would await his sentence, which most certainly would not be a mild one!