Celebrating Boris Johnson In Verse

Whilst Theresa May’s insistence that she was to be the sole sibyl interpreting the entrails of the 2016 Brexit Referendum decapitated chicken conjured a hail of slings and arrows from all sides, there was something vaguely heroic about the stoicism with which she faced that storm of her own making without flinching, and it made versification easy. However, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is a different kettle of fish. A kettle of stinking fish. A veritable garum, garum being the Roman fermented fish entrail sauce whose production was so stinky it was banned from the centre of towns, as Boris (a student of Classics) would doubtless be aware. A man whose serial philandering demands that ‘Boris’ be rhymed with ‘erect penis’ does not lend himself to any kind of heroic poetry.

But I persisted. My muse initially came up with limericks.

It’s tricky writing sonnets
About Boris Johnson since it’s
Rhymes about pricks
And limericks
That suit such a shit amongst shits

We have a Prime Minister Boris
Who likes to quote Virgil and Horace
He screws over all
And spaffs up the wall
Public money as if it is just piss.

Tory PM Boris Johnson
Is looking for women to cheat on
Having taken his pick
After trimming his wick
He’ll leave them then on to the next one

Boris Johnson loves a good bonking
If his paramour’s married that’s stonking!
To lie and betray
S’the Johnsonian way
Us voters must give him a tonking!

Having thus warmed up, I was finally able to produce a sonnet.

The Tory saviour Boris Johnson’s
Plan for avoiding scrutiny’s a wheeze;
Stay dead in a ditch post Halloween, he’s
Shielded from any hostile questions.
The Tory press will doubtless say the sun’s
Shining out of his decaying corpse, these
Lies should cut no ice with voters when sleaze
Surrounds his cabinet of charlatans.
It takes a special sort to serve Boris.
Insufficient talent to out-shine him
Or recognise his incompetence. To
Survive they must suppress their egos to this
Extent, yet still hold office at his whim.
For “Trust me” in his parlance means “Fuck you”.

Enjoy!

(To follow me on Twitter go to https://twitter.com/e2dme)

Does Voting Leave in 2016 Predict Your Imminent Demise?

Introduction

In June 2016, the UK voted in an advisory referendum to leave the European Union.

As soon as the result was known, there was interest in the factors that correlated with voting intentions. Lord Ashcroft carried out research that suggests age was a good postdictor of voting choice.

Although the referendum was advisory, not mandatory, David Cameron said his Government would bind itself to the referendum result. However, no UK government can bind its successors, and he immediately resigned.

Then in 2017, we had another election in which no party won an overall majority, and during which the two largest parties offered radically different visions of Brexit.

Referenda haven’t been used much in the UK. After the 2017 General Election, and even more so after the 2019 European Elections, I asked myself the question, how might you decide the shelf-life of a UK referendum mandate? We don’t allow dead people to vote, and since it seems that 2016 Leave Voters tended to be older than Remain voters, I wondered if it might be possible to work out when the number of 2016 Remain voters surviving outnumbered the surviving 2016 Leave voters.

Here are my conclusions.

Method

Sir John Curtice writes occasionally for the BBC Website, and he published graphs showing his research into how voting intention had correlated with age, and how participation correlated with age.

The UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) publishes:

  • UK Population Details, men and women, segmented by age, in one year segments.
  • UK Death rates, men and women, segmented by age, in 5 year segments.

I used the figures for 2015.

First, I applied Sir John Curtice’s graphs for participation and likelihood of voting by age to the ONS population segmentation to come up with a prediction of what the Brexit vote would be.

I got an answer of 17.6 million, which is pretty close to the actual 17.4 million. Bear in mind I haven’t ‘tuned’ the model at all. I was frankly amazed, and decided there was no need for anything more sophisticated (see e.g. http://www.statsguy.co.uk/brexit-voting-and-education/ for some very interesting detailed analyses).

I then applied the ONS segmented death figures to my modelled Leave numbers by age to arrive at a prediction of the number of first year deaths, and got a number well over half a million (the bar effect on the graphs is because the age segments are 5 year bands, whilst the population segments are years).

Predicted First Year Leave Voter Deaths against age.

Obviously you can only die once, so I turned the number of deaths into a likelihood of a 2016 Leave voter surviving 1 year, which turns out, on my model, to be 0.97. Three years of this, and 1.5 million 2016 Leave voters have died.

Annual deaths in the UK are around 600,000. Subtract the dead Leave voters, and you’re left with 100,000 deaths, to be shared between Remain voters and ‘Did Not Vote’. ‘Did Not Vote’ includes all children under 18 who have a low chance of dieing, but I have not modelled them at all. Remain voters outnumbered Abstainers of voting age, 5 to 3, most deaths would be in people of voting age, the Abstain age profile is similar to that of the Remain age profile, so I would guess that perhaps 60,000 2016 Remain voters have died each year.

So the cross over point, when the number of living 2016 Remain voters exceeds the number of living Leave voters, must be sometime around now.

Should anyone wish to carry this further, here is my model, in the form of a LibreOffice spreadsheet.

Eton Mess, or The Ballad of Theresa May

When Theresa May picked up the baton
Released by David Cameron’s folly
She purged the posh with a single volley
And necromanced the late Boris Johnson
Just lately dispatched by Michael Gove, yon
Cassius minus his lean and hungry
Look, who she in turn returned rapidly
To thoroughly deserved oblivion.
Having raised the dead she raises her sights
To a personal mandate, who cares that
She said the opposite a year ago.
Her lead of unimaginable heights
Trumps all pretence of integrity, flat
Out triumph and which voters will still know?

Handsome princes and monochrome swans ought
To dodge Theresa May’s tear pool now.
The right wing press proved unable to cow
Enough voters to win. Instead they thought
They’d teach humility to those who’d fought
To get ‘Strength and Stability’ somehow
Swapped with reasoned policy to allow
Theresa May the free hand that she sought.
The necromancer dries her eyes and checks
Her magic money tree. She chucks a bung
To Northern Ireland nutters, lays down her
Minions for her life and resurrects
Gove to re-inter Boris. Her forked tongue
Slithers, and everything is as you were.

Tories tried in vain to end her mission,
Instead adding one more year begging,
Hectoring, delaying, adhering
To office like gum stuck to the bottom
Of your shoe. When she said she’d be gone
To her political graveyard, selling
Memoirs that will big her up whilst shedding
No light on anything, her denouement
Failed too. A career marked by failures
Failed even to end. To maintain such
Consistency of employment without
Notable achievements simply beggars
Belief. There obviously isn’t much
Tory political talent about.

Five foot eight, eyes of blue and ears of tin.
Theresa May takes the Union flag
In vain as her speech’s back-drop. I gag
At her mendacity. She cannot win
The vote because there is no way to spin
Her deal other than as a rag bag
Of prejudices to make incomes sag,
Achieve the aims of Vladimir Putin
And consign the United Kingdom to
The dustbin of history when Scotland
And Northern Ireland depart, the one
As a free country, the other into
The South of Ireland, whence both will land
Back in the European Union.

Odd. Andrea Leadsom’s resignation
Proved to be the final straw. Rejoicing,
As happened with Raab and McVey stepping
Down seemed the way to greet her being gone.
Theresa May now soldiered gamely on
Presiding over farmyard squabbling
Amongst the creatures who were jockeying
For position during the marathon
Campaign to succeed her. Musical chairs
With the final say given to old white
Men was the arcane process. No women
Were seated when first came silence, who cares
They make up half the country? The birthright
Of Tory toffs will be restored to them.

Although one and a half million Leave
Voters from twenty sixteen have since died
Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt vied
To lead this zombie army. They perceive
The dead don’t see the attempts to deceive
Them. Beyond reason, they can be relied
On not to recognise they have been lied
To more than any who truly believe.
And so we face the spectre of ‘No Deal’
As well as the march of the dead and
The living dead, clothed in the flag of saints.
‘Will of the People’ the liars squeal
Tory posh boys in a pretense to stand
For people left behind and their complaints.

Does their ‘ism’ have a soul that draping
Itself in the flag of its native land
Goes whispering in people’s ears and
Provides balm for those busy exploiting
Their fellows, solace for any scraping
By? Those with plenty hear “Life is grand!”
Those with nothing are dismissed out of hand.
Those with little: “Fear those with nothing!”
All are told “Accept your station in life.
The natural order is the misdeeds
Of the rich must quietly cause no scenes
Else class mistrust and division are rife.
From each according to the wealthy’s needs
To each according to their current means.”