Maybot malfunctions under pressure over disappearing police | John Crace

In the wake of the London Bridge terror attack, a nation needs its security fears allayed. So why yet more talk of Brexit?

The Supreme Leader had never been more clear about anything. The country was talking about one thing and one thing only. Brexit. So she had come to the same library in the Royal United Services Institute in Whitehall where she had launched her leadership campaign almost a year earlier, to talk about Brexit. That’s what the public was demanding and that’s what the public would get.

There were a few puzzled faces in the audience. They were under the impression that what most people had been talking about over the past couple of days was Saturday night’s terrorist attack in London and they had reasonably assumed that the Supreme Leader might have something to say about it. Apparently not. “More than ever, the country needs strong and stable leadership,” she said. And that was why she was calling on everyone to strengthen her hand so her leadership could be even stronger and more stable. The Maybot was back up and running.

Mistaking the groans of resignation and despair in the room for confirmation that her message of reassurance was getting through, the Supreme Leader went on to deliver much the same non-speech she had repeatedly given over the previous seven weeks. The same sentences that never quite made sense even on their own. Let alone when they were connected to all the others.

She alone had a Brexit plan. A plan she couldn’t fully disclose, other than to say no deal was better than a bad deal. Jeremy Corbyn didn’t have a plan because his plan was different to hers. “We will show leadership, because that is what leaders do,” the Maybot concluded, her algorithms no longer fully operational. “There is no time for learning on the job.” This was the closest she came to saying anything heartfelt. She’d been trying and failing to learn on the job for 12 months.

Only towards the end of her speech did the Supreme Leader make any proper mention of the London attacks. Enough was enough. She had done everything she possibly could to help the police in her six years as home secretary and it was just a pity they weren’t a bit more grateful.

Under her strong and stable leadership, Britain had never been more safe. Even if it didn’t feel that way. No one cared more about the country’s security than she did. She just had her own idiosyncratic way of showing it. Instead of focusing on the terror plots that had succeeded, why couldn’t everyone just concentrate a bit more on the ones that had been thwarted? “I have the vision,” the Maybot said. The blurred vision of an artificial intelligence without the intelligence.

Much to her surprise, none of the questions that followed her speech were about Brexit. They were all about terrorism and security. The Supreme Leader was patience personified as as she failed to answer any of them. Had she been wrong to cut police numbers?

Not at all. The relentless focus on numbers was missing the point. What really mattered was that she had given the police extra superpowers. Some were being trained to have x-ray vision. Some were learning to fly with magic capes. Some could literally bi-locate and be in two places at the same time. Some had been equipped with little suckers on their feet that allowed them to walk up the side of buildings. Some had been given special weapons that fired spiders’ webs. Some had also been given invisibility cloaks, which was why it was easy to imagine there were 20,000 fewer of them.

An engineer hastily tried to update the Maybot, but only succeeded in making things worse as her faculties became ever more unreliable. Her voice recognition software couldn’t recognise the words “Donald Trump” when she was twice asked if the US president had been wrong to criticise Sadiq Khan for doing a bad job. “The London mayor is doing a very good job,” she monotoned. But what about Donald Trump? “The London mayor is doing a good job.”

“What would Donald Trump have to say for you to disagree with him?” one journalist finally asked. The Supreme Leader looked confused. Who was this Donald Trump? “The London mayor is doing a very good job,” she said yet again. So would someone – the US president, say – who criticised Khan be wrong? “I suppose so,” she muttered through gritted teeth. The special relationship had never appeared so pathetically and abjectly one-sided. But it was what now passed for strong and stable leadership.


John Crace

The GuardianTramp

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