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A Modern Day Robin Hood

Friday, 11th May, 2001

With the Prime Minister finally announcing officially the date of the General Election, it's time to evaluate just what people care about.

Judging from the reaction at the girls' school from whose stage Mr Blair spoke, they don't care about a lot. Three of them were noticed to have fallen asleep during his speech; while the rest of them tried to balance the teaching that they shouldn't talk to strange men who lie to them and offer them sweets with the teaching that this one was an exception.

I've never seen the country so apathetic. Maybe it's that there's no valid opposition and the election is a foregone conclusion; maybe it's that this government has so consistently lied about everything that nobody believes the election is real; maybe it's that politics is merely seen as a very rude word after the actions of the last five years.

I think the most important result this June will be that a record number of people don't bother to leave their breakfast tv shows to go and vote.

Of course one man will vote, though his existence is conveniently skirted around by the media. Soon his actions will echo down the cavernous halls of power and some lone journalist will take on his cause and bring it to the masses. You see, just like King Arthur, when the country has need of him, he will return; and right now, he's needed like crazy.

Robin Hood is back, ladies and gentlemen. Robin Hood, fancied by all women, respected by all men, stealer from the rich and giver to the poor. He's back to restore some humanity to the country, frittered away by evil King Tony and his arch-henchman, Gordon the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Here comes Robin Hood to the rescue. No thief he; he doesn't steal, merely redistributes wealth back down the poverty chain to the poor citizens and frustrated businessmen whose hard earned money almost entirely goes straight into evil King Tony's coffers.

The media hasn't mentioned him once. No national newspaper, not even the Sport; no tv station; no radio news bulletin. But the rumours are starting to flow, and nothing flows faster than rumours.

He's been seen, sussing out the lie of the land. It's not like the good old days when you could hide quickly up a tree. Times have changed and so have security cameras. In the most watched country in the world, these cameras are everywhere. Here a glimpse, there a glimpse.

The Sheriff's policemen no longer rush around ineptly but work carefully and methodically to get their man. They get more time too, as Robin can't simply con his way into evil King Tony's counting house dressed as a blind beggar with a long wooden staff. Now there are security locks, swipecard systems, pass codes. Now there's twentyfour hour security, professionally provided.

He'll work a way through it all, I'm sure, somehow. He'll hijack the incredible wealth squirrelled away into the back corridors of power, and steal away on the wings of a hawk. Unfortunately the hawk would have to be huge, given that there's far more wealth to redistribute nowadays than there ever was way back when. But he'll find a way. He's Robin Hood! He always finds a way. He won't let us down.

Soon he'll reach the public eye, caught on one of those real life police chase shows speeding up the A1 with a trailer full of cash, happily distributing the banknotes out to those bled dry by the government.

Soon the newspapers will emblazon their covers with pictures of the rogue balancer of wrongs. Soon the tv news broadcasts will echo his name. Soon the country will follow his lead and take back what is rightfully theirs.

'Back to the main story of the night: the modern day Robin Hood and his daring escape earlier this afternoon from a heavily policed A1. Both carriages were at gridlock for six hours before police managed to divert traffic elsewhere. Most, however, don't seem to want to leave. The A1 remains closed for traffic, prompting motorists elsewhere to turn green with envy for those who were near enough to receive handouts.

"I wish he'd get his priorities straight," said one driver. "We've been fleeced up in Birmingham too. It's not just a problem in the south, it's a problem all over the country."

Rumour has it that he slipped away through the massive crowd, whose numbers have never been seen outside rock stadiums. Kate Adie seems to have been lost under the teeming mass of humanity heading north along the A1, but she did get this report through.'

'It's something totally new for Britain. We've seen these numbers in the capitals of Eastern Europe, united to overthrow the dictatorships that had crippled their countries. Now they're taking to the streets of England to follow a man that only recently they saw as a myth.

'He was here handing out wads of banknotes to all deserving recipients, money that seems to have been stolen from government bank vaults, from right under the eyes of the security firms watching over them.

'The people seem to be behind him. Most seem to believe that he has been needed ever since the Second World War, while some suggest that he should have turned up when income tax was introduced to finance the war against Napoleon. All seem to be agreed on one thing: Robin Hood's crusade has reached a momentum that seems unstoppable.

"He opened our eyes," said one marcher. "He's like Billy Graham or something. He just opened our eyes to what's been going on. Now we can see well enough. I say we storm Parliament and depose Evil King Tony! The sooner Good Queen Elizabeth returns from the crusades, the better. She'll not have any of this nonsense. She'll deal with him properly."

That seems to be the mood of the people here on the A1. The words on everyone's lips are "Where will he strike next?" What is for certain is that his stand against the forces of darkness is reaching critical mass. Soon, if not already, it's going to be unstoppable. This is Kate Adie, on the A1, following Robin Hood.'

That's one scenario. Sadly I think that any attempt to stir up rebellion nowadays would be met by media smear campaigns, spin doctor shenanigans and enough official denials that any rebellion even exists, that the fight would be doomed to failure before it even starts.

The government would divide and conquer, shifting the blame to the oil companies, fat cat directors, Margaret Thatcher. I can see Evil King Tony giggling to his cronies right now.

'86% we take in tax on the price of fuel. I love it so much I almost can't believe it. It only costs 11p to extract a litre of fuel from the sea, ship it to shore, treat it, transport it all the way from Saudi Arabia, refine it, deliver it to the forecourts, pass it on to the consumers. Each company pays tax at every step; each company has their own overheads to deal with and their own profit margin to make; but all that is eaten up in 11p. We take the other 69p in blatant taxation, and we've managed to con the public into believing that the fuel giants are evil and we should tax their profits!


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