Chapter 4: A Formal Chat Between Two Disagreeing Parties
Some time later...
It was afternoon before Election Day and Cone was preparing his last debate with Sir Oldton. The crowd had already gathered on the town square, where the moderator was clearing his throat before welcoming Mr. Cone and Sir Oldton.
“Welcome, Mr. Cone, Sir Oldton”, he said. “It is an honour, truly. Today’s debate will focus in issues that our marvellous audience raises. They will pose questions, and each of you will be given time to answer. Any questions?”
“Yes, right here”, a man in blue said. “What are your plans for the poor people?”
“We’ll begin with you, Sir Oldton”, the moderator declared. Sir Oldton thought for a second before answering:
“To begin with, we have to define poverty, that is, who is poor, and who is not. If you elect me, I will have our finest mathematicians work on a formula for deciding this, which, once completed, will be used for political and economical solutions to this problem. This includes monetary benefits to eligible recipients in need. Furthermore, I will have Parliament start thinking about implementing other things, including universal health care and free higher education, which will lead to a healthier, more intelligent society.” Sir Oldton stepped down from the podium, with cheers from the working class men and women in the audience, and let Mr. Cone take his rightful place. At the podium, Cone stood perfectly silent for a while, capturing the crowd’s attention. Soon, however, he cleared his throat and began speaking:
“Ladies and gentlemen, as you all know there is no such thing as a free lunch, or free education, or free anything for that matter. Do you know how Sir Oldton would have you pay for all of his promises? He would have the government take all of your money as taxes. All of it! If you ask me, your money should stay at your house, because you were the ones who earned it in the first place. And moreover, the money that Parliament does collect should go to reasonable things, such as colonies, since all of Africa is ripe for the taking, and our glorious army and grand navy, both of which are necessary to defend us in these turbulent times, where, as you surely know, new empires arises from what previously were tiny duchies and city-states. Indeed, the German Empire, the newest of these, even managed to defeat France, and to ensure that we do not meet the same fate we need to maintain constant vigilance and be observant of their, and others’, moves.” Now the wealthier people applauded and uttered phrases such as “Marvellous”, “The truth, indeed” and similar. Soon after, a circular man voiced the second question: “What would you try to achieve in Parliament, should you be elected?” This time, Mr. Cone began.
“A perfectly reasonable question indeed, sir! My first and foremost goal would be to improve our great nation’s defences, so that we may live in peace, without fear of foreign empires, such as the German Empire or Austria-Hungary. Fear does not belong in British hearts!
Furthermore, I would gladly support the establishment of further colonies in Africa, and beyond. Certainly, you all know why this should happen, but, either way, I will explain. In the jungles of Africa there lies untold riches, just waiting to be discovered by civilised men, us, and through that be liberated from being controlled by natives, who are surely unworthy of such a fortune, since they are, after all, lesser men. Would you not rather have these riches returned to England? These are but some thoughts of mine, my intentions, that is.” There was a round of applause before the moderator continued:
“Very well put, Mr. Cone! Now it is up to you, Sir Oldton, to convince the audience that he might just be wrong.”
“It would be my pleasure”, Sir Oldton said. “We must expand our great nation’s aid to the poorest, most unfortunate people in this country, and at the same time encourage our employers to pay reasonable wages so as to lift our poorer brethren out of their misery and poverty. Should we not follow through with this, Britain will surely perish at the hands of wealthier, more equal countries. Is that what you want?” As the applause died down, the moderator started to speak: “Thank you, Sir Oldton... Now we will move on to a debate, where each candidate’s most important issue will be debated between the two of them. I will moderate, so that is not a concern of yours. Please do not interrupt each other and try to play by the rules. First up: Mr. Cone and the nation’s defence forces. Now, let us listen.”
“Thank you, moderator, and thank you, audience. As I said before, I am in favour of strengthening our defences. I want to enlarge our navy and expand our army. This will ensure our safety, as well as provide employment opportunities for Sir Oldton’s beloved “poor” people. All I want is for Britain to be in complete control of the world, which we are not today. Is that too much to ask?”
“Really? Well, that might very well be too much to ask, I’m afraid. There is no need for Britain to rule the world, and we already rule the waves. Why would you even think of expanding the most powerful navy the world has ever seen?”
“No need? No need for us to rule the world? I do not possess any information about your place of birth, but I would guess that it would be Ireland. I, however, was born in England and I truly believe that the British Empire is force for good, and as such must rule the world. This requires a strong navy, don’t you agree?”
“For your information, “Lord” Cone, I was born in Cornwall, which even you should know is part of England. I just don’t believe it is in the best interests of the Empire to meddle in the affairs of foreign affairs. A strong defence might as an offensive force, which obviously leads to war. The only way these wars will affect you is leaving a trail of death through beautiful Redcliff. How is this in any way positive, I ask you Mr. Cone?”
“Firstly, righteous wars bring vast riches to their winners. Secondly, this “trail of death” that you speak of would only happen should your policies of destroying our defences be followed. You won’t suffer any noticeable casualties if you play the wars well. And that, good people of Redcliff, is a fact!”
The debate went on for a few more hours, with both sides making some good arguments. Besides talking about the navy, the two parties also discussed poverty, colonies, welfare and Germany. As the debate ended there was no clear winner. It was obvious that the election would be a complete toss-up.