I was scrambling around for a very specific file last night when – as is so often the way – I instead found this pastiche of Monty Python’s Dead Parrot Sketch, written during the first lockdown in 2020.

Back then, I was clearly frustrated by the lack of any form of constructive opposition to what seemed quite draconian measures. Months later I’m resigned to Labour never again representing the people it was set up by and for, but I was pleased with how this came out.

I seem to have spent a bit of time on it, retaining much of the rhythm and sillyness of the original. Of course, I can’t take credit for pastiching the Dead Parrot Sketch, as Cleese and Palin did it themselves several times. Still, I think this probably covers the depth of my dissatisfaction with British politics. It’s certainly easier to read than listening to me boring on about Brexit or pie in the sky carbon zero and all that nonsense…

(With apologies to Michael Palin and John Cleese)


SHOP OWNER Michael Palin

A customer enters a shop, carrying a red box. Boxes of all colours are on the shelf.

Mr. Starmer: ‘Ello, I wish to register a complaint.

(The owner does not respond.)

Mr. Starmer: ‘Ello, Miss?

Owner: What do you mean “miss”?

Mr. Starmer: (pause) I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to presume your pronouns. I wish to make a complaint!

Owner: We’re closin’ for lunch.

Mr. Starmer: Never mind that, my lad. I wish to complain about this political party what I assumed leadership of not half an hour ago.

Owner: Oh yes, the, uh, the Labour Party…What’s,uh…What’s wrong with it?

Mr. Starmer: I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it, my lad. It’s dead, that’s what’s wrong with it!

Owner: No, no, it’s uh,… resting.

Mr. Starmer: Look, matey, I know a dead political movement when I see one, and I’m looking at one right now.

Owner: No no it’s not dead, it’s, it’s restin’! Remarkable history, the Labour Party, Beautiful policies!

Mr. Starmer: The policies don’t enter into it. It’s stone dead.

Owner: Nononono, no, no! It’s resting!

Mr. Starmer: All right then, if it’s resting, let it form a government! (shouting at the box) ‘Ello, Modern Socialism! I’ve got a lovely dead capitalist for you if you show…

(OWNER hits the box)

Owner: There, it moved!

Mr. Starmer: No, it didn’t, that was you hitting the box!

Owner: I never!!

Mr. Starmer: Yes, you did!

Owner: I never, never did anything…

Mr. Starmer: (yelling and hitting the box repeatedly) ‘ELLO MODERN SOCIALISM!!!!! Testing! Testing! Testing! Testing! This is your union liason!

(Takes Red Book out of the box and thumps it on the counter. Throws it up in the air and watches it plummet to the floor.)

Mr. Starmer: Now that’s what I call a dead party.

Owner: No, no…..No, it’s stunned!

Mr. Starmer: STUNNED?!?

Owner: Yeah! You stunned it, just as it was preparing to mobilise! Labour parties stun easily, major.

Mr. Starmer: Um…now look…now look, mate, I’ve definitely had enough of this. That party is definitely deceased, and when I purchased it not half an hour ago, you assured me that its total lack of electoral success was due to it being distracted by identity politics following a prolonged Brexit.

Owner: Well, it’s…it’s, ah…probably pining for the picket lines.

Mr. Starmer: PININ’ for the picket lines?!?!?!? What kind of talk is that? Look, why did it fall in the polls the moment I got it home?

Owner: The Labour Party prefers low polling! Remarkable movement, innit, squire? Lovely policies!

Mr. Starmer: Look, I took the liberty of examining that party when I got it home, and I discovered the only reason that it had been up for sale was that it thinks social media is a true representation of the electorate.

Owner: Well, of course it does! If it didn’t, the amassed armies of the far left would have nuzzled up to that lid, pushed it open, and VOOM! Feeweeweewee!

Mr. Starmer: “VOOM”?!? Mate, this party wouldn’t “voom” if you paid everyone a living wage of £4 million a week! It’s bleedin’ demised!

Owner: No no! It’s pining!

Mr. Starmer: It’s not pining! It’s passed on! This party is no more! It has ceased to be! It’s expired and gone to meet its maker! It’s a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If you hadn’t sold it, the membership would be happily moving on with their lives! It’s internal Kafkaesque processes are now history! It’s off the twig! It’s sold the gold, it’s shuffled off its disregard for its core voters, run down the mines and joined the bleeding choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-LABOUR PARTY!!

Owner: Well, I’d better replace it, then. (he takes a quick peek behind the counter) Sorry squire, I’ve had a look ’round the back of the shop, and uh, we’re right out of Labour.

Mr. Starmer: I see. I see, I get the picture.

Owner: I got an SNP

Mr. Starmer: Pray, does it attract voters?

Owner: Not really the sort you’d want.

Mr. Starmer: And people wonder why we have a Conservative government.

Well, I hope you enjoyed that. And now, a man with three trumpets in his bottom.