by Martin Odoni

I was visited by a little green blob of sentient organic matter from another planet last night. It sat on the railing of my balcony, and tapped on my toilet window. As luck would have it, I was sat on the loo having a relief-inducing ‘bowel-evacuation’, so I opened the window, and said, “Yes, alien life-form, can I help?”

I meet an alien

Still, it was a much more civil conversation than I ever experience when talking to Brexiteers.

The green blob waved at me, and replied mildly, “Hi, Earthling. I’ve heard that you people have been holding a big event recently called ‘A General Election’, and there’s been quite a lot of noise about it on your primitive radio transmissions.

“Oh dear, has there?” I asked with a flash of guilt. “My deepest apologies.”

And I saw one of the visual transmissions, called a ‘Party Political Broadcast on behalf of the Conservative Party’. So it sounds like this whole business must be very important. Jolly interesting stuff…

“You’re from Mars, aren’t you?” I observed.

Why yes, how did you know?

“Well, you were watching a Tory PPB, and you found it ‘interesting’, so you clearly can’t be human…”

The blob seemed not to understand, but continued. “Can you explain to me, please? What exactly is a ‘General Election?

“Ah,” I grunted, not completely sure there was a definition that matched the reality. “Well, we have in this country what we call a ‘Representative democracy’, in which the decision-makers in Government are voted into office by the people from a wide variety of candidates.”

Ah, so the people choose the best governors to represent them?

Cue an awkward pause, during which the horror-image of Boris Johnson walking over the threshold of 10 Downing Street flashed across my mind like a particularly intense migraine attack.

“Not… necessarily.”

No?

“Well, I’d have to say no, because the people who get elected aren’t necessarily the best people to do the job. I’m not sure if that’s really the criteria the voters use.”

The Martian looked astonished. “Isn’t it? A decision that important, and they don’t make the choice on the basis of who would be the best?

“Not very often, it usually seems, no.”

Well,” the horrified Martian pressed, “what criteria do they use? High intelligence?

Again, the image of Johnson. Followed by Theresa May, David Cameron, John Major, Jim Callaghan, Alec Douglas-Home…

“Again, I’d have to say no.”

Morals then? Good ethics?

The images of almost every Prime Minister dating all the way back to Robert Walpole rumbled agonisingly across my thoughts. Followed by yet another image of Johnson somehow beating Jeremy Corbyn.

“Are you trying to be funny?” I asked, furrow-browed.

Not intelligence, not ethics?” the Martian protested. “What else is there?

I took a brief pause to reflect. “Well,” I conceded, “there was probably an ethical dimension of a sort to the Election just gone.”

Oh yes?” asked the Martian keenly. “What was it?

“Opposing racism,” I explained. “The candidates for election are nominated by different factions competing for power that we call ‘parties’, and one of the parties has been accused of being rife with a form of racial prejudice called ‘anti-Semitism’. That issue was one of the ones that dominated the campaign.”

Oh I see!” said the Martian, lights switching on in what passed for his (her? Its?) eyes. “And was the party accused of racism defeated?

“Yes.”

Oh good, so there is an anti-racist party now in power?

Another pause.

“Well, no,” I eventually replied. “The party that won has an Islamophobia rate of about 47%, and an anti-Semitism rate of about 35%, while their leader wrote a book in which Jews all have hooked noses and run the world, says Muslim women all look like letterboxes, says black people look like picaninnies and have watermelon smiles, and plays rugby against Oriental children by shouldering them in the face.”

The Martian boggled in quiet disgust. “And people voted for him to fight against racism?!?” he cried. “What the blazes must the other party have been like?

“Umm,” I stammered in embarrassment, realising it was a mystery I needed someone to explain to me before I could explain it to any other member of the Human Race, never mind to a blob of sentient matter from beyond the Earth, “well… they were led by a life-long anti-racist campaigner who once organised a street protest that fought off a neo-Nazi march through a Jewish district in London, and another time was arrested for protesting against Apartheid. Oh yes, and, er… about 0.08% of its membership may or may not have been anti-Semites.”

The alien took several moments trying to process this. He then said, with a shudder, “So a General Election is where you vote for a party full of racists and led by an extreme racist to govern the country so another party led by an anti-racist and with hardly any racists in it can’t govern in a racist way?

I rubbed my jaw. “On most recent evidence, I’d have to agree with that.”

The blob pulled out a book from I-know-not-where, scanned it briefly, then looked at me. “Ah, hang on, you people match a description in this travel guide. You’re British, aren’t you?

I nodded in shame. “Let me guess. No other species in the Galaxy could be this f*cking crazy?”