An Unfortunate Election

An story with Orwellian roots describing a near-future election through the eyes of Jim, a worker for an NGO, which gives him a subtle look into the newly-elected PPU. A populist party who hold a worryingly revolutionary message, and power to allow them to fulfil it. This is a new kind of thriller, a topical issue which could emerge at any moment. Interwoven within the story are subtle details containing real interpretations of how the world will appear in a couple of decade's time. The result is both a glimpse at a new world, and a horrifying reflection of our own.


1. 'Under-fire Coalition Faces Mass Eviction From Parliament'

The Coalition parties enter today's election with the lowest prospects of any government in living memory. Polls indicate the PPU are on course for a landslide victory by the days end, owed in no part to the weakness of the opposing parties. Blighted by scandal at the highest ranks, unpopular tax rises and a general feeling that Britain's place in the world is falling with no signs of stopping, polls show the government will be punished harshly by an electorate who see the last five years as wasted.


The headline read what everyone was thinking, and how something like this was meant to sell papers was beyond him, but even so like the loyal newsreader he was, Jim stopped off at the kiosk outside the tube station to purchase a copy of the Telegram, Jim's favourite and the recently announced paper of record, which would accompany his daily coffee addiction. It was these simple things that Jim particularly enjoyed, nothing too fancy, just a regular routine and enjoyment of things he had gotten used to.


It was election day, with perhaps the clearest, yet by far the most interesting, expected result in decades. 'Change' was a common buzzword used by the politicians through the years, but a party which emerged with surprising speed had made the masses believe that now, they really meant it. The 'People's Party for Unity' or 'PPU' was it's name, and it was met with great skepticism upon it's first unveiling, mainly because of the extremely radical nature of the proposed policies. The party seemed to usher in a new political era, gone were the old policies of tax cuts here and tax rises there. The main policy the PPU stood on was a strange reworking of old communistic ideas, but for a distinctively modern taste. A party based on solely the working classes could hardly work at present, mainly because the middle and working classes were quite evenly spread. The secret behind the PPU success was the fact that it's policy went beyond typical marxism, 'responsible capitalism' they called it. The excessive wealth of the rich would help pay for the middle classes to have slightly better lives and for the working classes to have significantly better. It was a policy that would be met with initial skepticism, but through ferocious advertising, the polls started showing flickers of hope. With a public growing weary of inaction by the current government, they wanted change. Real change.


Pushing his way through the mass of people who were moving in the opposite direction, Jim felt somewhat like a salmon moving up a pond, beating on against the flow. It wasn't a particularly long walk, but the crowds made it such. Occasionally he had came across large, aggressive people barrelling down the street, colliding head-on and spilling the coffee and then fleeing the scene to avoid any need to repay or even apologise. Those were never good days. Jim had gotten used to the anonymity, and occasional animosity, as one of the unfortunate by-products of living in the capital. He often dreamed of moving out to a little village to escape the city, just as he had dreamed when he was younger of moving into it.


Eventually he reached it. The tall, gleaming Spire that stood proudly in Whitehall, sandwiched between two Georgian buildings with recently developed roof gardens. It was a fairly new construct, but was part of an overall redesign of the capital, to give it a new face. It was hard to know what to make of the plans. Certainly, it looked a lot more modern, but it all seemed a bit superficial, like it was someone's bright idea which didn't exactly pan out quite how they thought it would. Nonetheless, Jim was happy with where he worked, there was a wonderfully clinical whiteness to the Spire. Surrounding the building were the numerous government departments, either housed in old colonial remnants, with the only lingering feature being their crumbling exterior, or the new style creeping over the capital. Jim, however, didn't work for a government department, and the Spire didn't house the offices of any of them. Instead, he worked for a fairly powerful lobby group, the UK Culture Association. Jim's backstory wasn't particularly of note. He had a cosy History degree from Manchester, did a few internships before finally accepting one in London. This gave him the contacts, and when the UKCA was formed, he was offered the position. His background could easily be compressed to the length of a sentence, but he liked it that way. Like everything he desired in life, it was simple, easy and predictable.


How's the wife, Jim?”


Ah, you know, same old,” he replied to the security guard, rising from his chair to go through the routine security checks. Neither really cared for the other's conversation, but they realised the need to make some sort of effort, to avoid the whole process being too robotic.


Just pop your stuff in there, then walk through the gate,” he said, handing Jim a plastic container. “You votin' in these elections, then?”


Dunno really, might just sit on the sidelines and watch how things go. Not really that fussed.”


Yeah, same. Not sure about this new group, but couldn't care less about who we have in now.”


The machine beeped a code of approval, all was clear. It was a fairly pointless exercise, there hadn't been an attack like this in years, but it was just accepted by people to tired to complain about it. It was just another drudging and tedious thing to add to the morning, another point on a list made up of waking early and a long commute, and where every point was passively accepted by those who just wanted to quietly get by.


He was then met by the secretary sitting at his desk who pointed him in the direction of the elevator with a friendly smile and nod. Jim often felt like a visitor in his own workspace. This was not always negative, of course. Relaxing on the roof gardens, which were always kept pristine, as if they were putting on their best face for whoever may stop by, was nice. The need for excessive security and being told where to go, as if one could forget after going here for years, wasn't. Nevertheless, he felt no reason, or desire, to complain and it was likely no one else did either. It was just a little annoyance that was tolerated. This was the skill most needed in the capital; tolerance. If you had that, you would go far.


Getting into the elevator, he was always impressed by how clean it was, just a nice, calming white colour. It helped relieve some of the annoyance he had just faced. Pressing the button for the ninth floor, the carriage lifted up with great force, but a force that was hardly felt by the user. With a retro 'ping', the doors opened, and the sound of the busy hub, the beeping wireless headsets, the conversations, the tapping of computers, filled the elevator pod, shattering the silence and calm. He was now in the hive, and of the drones hovering outside, he was about to, as he did every morning, join them.


The rush about the office was nothing new, Jim grew to expect this every morning, but especially around the time of the election. Calls were made to election candidates all over the country ensuring pledges in exchange for support. The UKCA served as the middle-man between almost every cultural interest in Britain and the politicians. The idea was that, for example, every theatre might have more weight than a small playhouse sending an email, and in theory this worked. It's hard to compare what would have happened had the group not formed, but it worked out promises and compromises which left members reasonably happy. This election was interesting, because of the overwhelming shift in support the organisation provided. Typically, the coalition and main opposition found themselves inundated with requests, and bargaining would take place with members of the UKCA and governing parties where working relationships had been formed over time. This, however, was a different election. Supporting the parties of old was deemed rather futile, as they were expected to return so little, promises meant nothing, they would hardly be kept. A few insurance contacts were made, in case of a shock hold on power, but nothing more than general protection from cuts. The real party every lobbyist wanted was the PPU, who handled the new-found fame and attention surprisingly well. The election machine was particularly well-oiled, and the UKCA had a hard time establishing strong contacts because of the competition. A great amount of calls and meetings paid off in the end, and the manifesto produced a useful section on culture which made Jim and his coworkers rather pleased with what they had achieved. After the hard work of getting the promises on paper, the job now lay with keeping contacts and ensuring the promises were delivered on, as well as acting more generally as a scrutinising body.


As he took a seat at his cubicle, Jim could hear the buzz of various news channels all around him, as co-workers kept track of the days developments and any updated polling. Jim, and the team around him, spent most of their time writing, mainly for speeches and responses to political developments. Today was a fairly relaxed day for most of the group, surprisingly, because the main writing had already been completed and checked. Jim had spent a week writing a rather long, and even he admitted, long winded, draft of a speech for the CEO to read out in response. The chance of it being picked up by any major source was rather unlikely, but it was protocol and no one bothered questioning the logic, and in the end, it gave them something to do as they waited for the monthly paycheck. They could come in whenever they wanted, and no one would stop them. They had all their work finished, so they could take things easy, or at least, that's what Jim told himself to escape the madness.


Heading out to vote, Jim?” the co-worker to his left asked.


Eh, I'm not that bothered, to tell you the truth, Mike.”


Me and Sam were going to head down to cast our vote and, well, between you and me, they legally have to let us out of this place to do it, so long as we don't take too long. A few others might not have the audacity to, but we're not even doing anything anyway. C'mon, little to do around this madhouse anyway!”


Fair point... Oh, go on then!”


The three men left the blend of serene calm and madness of the Spire to the equally frenzied, and save for tourists, strangely calming, London street. As they started walking towards Westminster Hall, the nearest polling station, Jim was rather glad he took them up on the offer, which was only intended as a temporary escape from the office, but knew it was something he would have came to regret had he not voted, especially when the opportunity was so close to his workplace.


Nearing the entrance, the tattered and rain-crumpled leaflets lying in the street, showing the clear signs of voter apathy, left one under no suspicion that there was an election going on. It was hard not to keep track of everything, from the buildings in Canary Wharf unveiling large posters hanging from the tallest buildings to the screens in Piccadilly Circus, smiling men in sharp suits looked down on the population of London, trying to convey a sense of empathy with their struggles, as they were accompanied by bullet-pointed policies alongside them, but all it did was further show the gap between the powerful and the common.


The guards gave their routine checking of possessions through a scanner, as the men walked through the gate, and collecting their things joined a small queue, reeking of voter apathy. Pods were laid along the side of the building and in a remarkable short time, the queue had dwindled to leave the three men at the front. Going first, though not by desire, Jim stepped forward and into the open pod, and as he did so, the door closed behind him, much like in the elevator at his workplace, though this was smaller, and if he was being picky, not a clean enough shade of white for his liking. He pressed his thumb print onto the scanner in front of him and the screen above it lit up with the parties and their emblems listed. His finger hovered over the PPU, and he questioned whether or not he would actually support such a radical line of policy. He had never given it much thought, nothing that remarkable ever happened after elections, and it was hard to comprehend how this would be different.


If they're gonna get it, I can't stop them,” he said under his breath and his finger pressed down on the logo of the PPU, a sharply formatted lettering of the party initials circled by a red and blue ring.


Jim didn't really see much significance in coming to vote, and whilst he would have regretted not doing so, his mind was wandering, thinking more about how tacky the pod voting systems were placed along the side of a large medieval building rather than the change which he had, in some small way, aided and endorsed.

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