First Line Fiction (11)

The first line for this fictional short story was supplied by film blogger Otsky, from https://overtheshoulder129848657.wordpress.com/

He looked into the camera, knowing this may be watched by millions, and cleared his throat: “Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini – I label these… tyrants as some of the worst humans to ever dwell on our Earth; so today is a very sad day to see myself included, by some, on this list.

There were times when Tom Carswell wondered how it had got to this. Many times, in fact. He had started out like most people, reasonably unconcerned about politics. He voted for the same party as his dad used to, and complained a bit when they lost. Then he just got on with life. What else could you do?

Something changed when they decided to build a motorway junction close to the small town where he lived. The local people were outraged at the loss of an ancient forest, and some started up an online campaign to oppose the construction. Tom got involved, in a small way at first. That escalated into blocking traffic heading for the site, and some minor scuffles with the police trying to remove the protestors. He was asked to give an interview on local news, and that was later shown on the national news too.

After that, it was as if the floodgates opened.

Two women came up from London, and asked him to stand in the Council elections for their party. It was the party he always voted for, and one he had been a member of since he was eighteen. The women made it clear that they wanted to radicalise the policies of that party, take it back to the Socialist roots, and remove the middle of the road old guard that was running it. Tom felt inspired, and agreed.

After all, he was a respected History teacher at the local senior school, and he had no skeletons in any closets that he could think of. Jack was starting at university, and Mandy thought he would make a good candidate.

Family support was crucial, of course. But the local education authority was less than impressed. They didn’t like the idea of one of their teachers being seen to be a radical, advocating ideas that hadn’t been around since the seventies.

But Tom did it anyway.

He won the seat with a huge majority, boosted by voters who appreciated his work against the motorway junction. Then he became something of a firebrand at Council meetings, rocking the foundations of the stuffy and long-established group who had been running the town since he was a boy.

That got him noticed in London again. This time, he was asked to go down to the capital, where they discussed him standing in the general election the following year. His town constituency had been represented by the other side for most of his life, and they convinced Tom he was the right man to change that. He accepted, and campaigned hard. His opponent had little to offer, save for his almost twenty years doing little to represent the town in parliament, and that man’s approval of the motorway scheme was the last straw for voters.

Carswell won a memorable victory, unseating the incumbent and achieving a majority in excess of ten thousand. And his party won nationally, with a sixteen seat majority.

Huge life changes followed. Resigning his teaching post, renting a flat in London, coming back to the town on Fridays to hold meetings, and learning the ways of government in the House of Commons. Tom didn’t like what he saw going on there, and soon became part of a left-wing splinter group determined to get rid of the moderate centrists that had infected the party of the people.

The media latched on to this younger, outspoken man who wasn’t afraid to go against the dull policies of his own party. He was on the front pages of newspapers, and asked on to TV political debates and even chat shows. Very soon, everyone in Britain knew who Tom Carswell was. By the time the next general election was still two years away, he was approached to stand against the party leader after a vote to force a leadership election.

At the time, he was still being painted by the media as a kind of British version of JFK. Nice wife, a son who had done well at university, and that small-town appeal that avoided any big city financial connections.

Then he won the leadership election.

Once in control, Tom started to formulate policies that alienated forty percent of the country. Heavy taxation on the rich, and less influence from royalty and aristocracy. A massive programme of cheap social housing to combat the problems of homelessness, and a big boost in benefits to the unemployed and disabled. On top of that he removed Britain from NATO, scrapped the nuclear weapons programme, and asked America to remove all its weapons and aircraft from any bases in Britain.

It was a busy couple of years, but he had done enough for his party to win again, and increase its majority ten fold.

Tom looked older, and felt the weight of responsibility. But he wasn’t about to give up. Scotland was granted another referendum, and chose independence. Discussions with Ireland resulted in a promise to return the six counties in the north within ten years. That would just leave England and Wales, and Great Britain would become a thing of the past.

Now the media turned against him, and so did many of the people. He was nicknamed ‘Castro Carswell’ by the tabloids. Northern Ireland degenerated into daily rioting, and some areas in northern England started to talk about becoming part of Scotland. It all began to fall apart.

Tom’s marriage fell apart too, and his son went to live and work in Australia. It seemed his own family thought he had gone too far. But he carried on.

New police powers cracked down on rioters and demonstrators. Many in his own party started to call for his removal, and he had to survive a leadership election by the skin of his teeth. The tabloids railed against him and his most loyal supporters, calling them The Gang of Ten. So Tom brought in new laws to muzzle the press. As the public outrage continued to build, and the police fought running battles on the streets outside, he decided to make a broadcast on national television.

After declaring that he was sad to see himself compared to historical dictators, he continued.

“Yes, I am sad indeed. But it will not soften my resolve. I will do what must be done, whatever the consequences”.

Before Tom could continue, the camerman turned to the sound man, a quizzical look on his face.

“Was that gunfire I heard outside?”

56 thoughts on “First Line Fiction (11)

  1. Brilliant, Pete!

    Funny how time and again in real life ‘good intentions’, mixed with ‘bad actions’ make quite the recipe for disaster. . .

    He Kicked out “The Yanks”? Bloody Hell! If it wasn’t fiction I’d be a bit hurt being the spawn of an “Elephant girl” and an American soldier who met at the Lyceum back in the day when it was quite the Palais. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. (1) Car-swell v. Motorway?
    (2) It’s a good idea to remove the middle of the road old guard. The old guard is less likely to get out of the motorway in time to avoid being run over by a car.
    (3) Did you hear about the pregnant lady who “unseated an incumbent” on a packed city bus?
    (4) Left-wing splinter group > Something woodpeckers strive to avoid. (Same goes for the right wing.)
    (5) Does Castro Carswell put Castrol motor oil in his car?

    (i know I promised one line responses, but I couldn’t resist.)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, that first line really pulled me in. Very apropos story for our times. All laid out reasonably, from one step to another. That’s what happens with dictators and democracy. They don’t abort it, they erode it. Good work, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We have a left-wing politician here called Jeremy Corbyn who was driven out of his party for advocating all of those policies, Maggie. I was speculating what might have happened had he stayed as leader, and won an election.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

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