Hello all. Another story suggestion from my good friend Llinos Cathryn Wynn-Jones this week. The link to her blog is available in the links section of this site! You should go have a read, as she is very good!
Anyway, without further ado, please enjoy ‘a story about politics in squid society’.
2014 – A Year In Stories
Prime Minister Squiddington floated behind his coral desk. It had been a tough week for him, and all of his ministers in the government of Great Squiddon. One of the constituent Squiddoms was seeking to break free as an independent nation, and the Prime Minister was very keen to see that this didn’t in fact happen.
The Squiddom in question was Blotland. It was populated predominantly by Cuttlefish and had experienced a history of mostly home rule. It was only in the last few hundred years that Blotland had been subject to the Squidlish crown.
The cuttlefish enjoyed a large degree of autonomy, a fact which gave the Prime Minister enough of a headache as it was. And now they wanted independence! Ha!
The Prime Minister settled to the seabed behind the coral reef and rubbed his bulbous head with one of his tentacles. He had not slept for days, and he had only managed to find time to see roughly 500 of his children this week.
The referendum was in three days, and there was still much work for him to do.
The next day, the Prime Minister and the leaders of the two other major political parties were in Blotland. Squid Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Squideral Democrats, was nervous. He flitted left and right as they swam up to some of the rebellious cuttlefish.
“Calm down,” the Prime Minister said to him as they swam. “You’re going to put them off voting to stay with the United Squiddom if you act like that. You’ve been doing it all the way since Blubdon.”
“I’m sorry,” the Deputy Prime Minister stuttered. “I just can’t bare the thought of losing them.
“Perhaps,” suggested Squid Milliband, the other member of their party, “you should leave the talking to me and the Prime Minister.”
Squid Clegg’s tentacles drooped in disappointment.
They finally reached the cuttlefish, who had all been floating around, waiting to see what all the fuss was about.
“Oh I see how it is,” piped up one of the braver members of the group. “Can’t be arsed to put the work in to keep us but you come swimming up here on your beaks and tentacles begging us to stay when the time comes. Well it’s too late. We’ve made our minds up and we want out.”
The Prime Minister rubbed two of his tentacles together obsequiously. “Now, now, there’s no need to be like that. We love all of our subje…I mean vote…I mean we care about all members of the population of the United Squiddom equally. We just want you to stay.”
“Well bugger off,” another of the cuttlefish interjected. “We aren’t interested. We don’t want none of your wars with the octopi, or any of your illegal above sea drilling.”
“Yeah,” the original speaker said, not wishing to be outdone. Never mind what you’re planning to do with the National Whelk Service.”
A chorus of murmured agreement spread around the assembled cuttlefish. Squid Clegg wrung his tentacles nervously.
“Why don’t you all just sod off back to Westsquiddister where you belong and let us manage our own affairs up here in Squiddinburgh?”
The gathered cuttlefish made the subtle but distinctively very important switch from a group to a mob, and advanced on the three politicians, who had agreed (in a 2-1 vote with Clegg on the losing side) that leaving their bodyguards behind would make them seem more friendly, and much less intimidating.
Squid Clegg let out a shot of ink in a panic, and the three of them turned on their tentacles. They didn’t stop swimming until they were safely past Squidrian’s Reef and back in Squidland.
“That was a disaster,” said Squid Milliband when they had reached the safety of the Caves of Parliament.
“We would have been calamari if it wasn’t for Clegg here being a huge coward,” the Prime Minister agreed.
“W…what are we going to do now?” Squid Clegg stammered.
“I’ll think of something…” the Prime Minister replied. “I’ll think of something.”
The next day was a big day for the Prime Minister, as he was up against Alex Salmon, whom the independence campaign had recruited as their leader.
The debate was largely a disaster for the Prime Minister and his side, as Salmon, the master debater, skilfully deflected all of his questions, and fired back several challenging ripostes of his own in return. However, the Prime Minister was not completely stumped. As he had promised Clegg and Milliband he had thought of something, and as the debate drew nearer to its end, he prepared to unleash it on Salmon.
“That is a very good point,” he conceded, as Salmon made another jibe about the millions of shrimp that would be saved with the withdrawal of funding for the swordfish defense system. “But, Mr Salmon, can I in return ask you this? Where exactly is an independent Blotland going to find the resources to work the North Sea shrimp fields?”
Salmon stared at him in disbelief. He clearly had not been expecting this question from the Prime Minister. “I, uh, I mean we, uh…” he began, stumbling over his words. “That is, we would, um.”
“The fact is, that Mr Salmon here cannot answer this question. Despite all of his beautiful flowery rhetoric, and his clever answers, he cannot give you a. Straight answer here. The reason for this, ladies and gentlesquids, is that he doesn’t know. The independence campaign doesn’t know.
“Currently those shrimp resources are farmed by Squiddish labourers, but that labour would be lost to you if you go ahead and vote yes to independence. And really, where would any self respecting cephalopod be without a regular supply of shrimp?”
He looked on triumphantly as Alex Salmon’s fins sagged in defeat. The Prime Minister may have taken a pummeling for most of the debate, but he had won the last question, and he knew that was the only one the voters would remember.
Sure enough when he listened to the Daily Conch news bulletin the next morning, it was encouraging stuff. His performance in the debate, though roped for a while, had given the No campaign an increase in the polls. Even if Squid Clegg had ruined the party slightly by opening his stupid beak and losing them some votes it was still positive.
It was the morning of the referendum. Soon polling caves across. Lot land would be opening, and the cuttlefish would be casting their votes. The Prime Minister crossed all his tentacles, which was no mean feat, and hoped beyond hope that the rebellious blighters would see sense and stick with the Union.
The waiting was the worst part. The polls closed late in the evening, so squid throughout the Squiddish Isles would not find out the result until very early the next morning.
The Prime kept himself occupied by engaging in some last minute campaigning on the streets of Blubdon, hoping that winning the expat cuttlefish population over down there would have a knock on effect up in Blotland. He had never kissed so many baby cuttlefish in his life.
In addition to that he was doing his best to keep the incompetent Squid Clegg out of the public eye. All he ever did was bugger things up, and he didn’t need him out there looking like a clownfish in front of potential voters on the most important day of the year. The Prime Minister cursed the day he had agreed to form the coalition with the bumbling imbecile. At least, he mused, that Clegg lacked political conviction, and so it was easy enough to get him to go along with any schemes the Prime Minister concocted.
In the end the day flew by, and the Prime Minister decided to grab a few hours sleep before the result was revealed.
The next morning the Prime Minister was woken early by his secretary, who informed him that Mr. Clegg and Mr. Milliband were waiting for him, and that the result was about to be announced.
The three squid gathered around the conch that had been set up on the Prime Minister’s coral reef desk. At first they couldn’t seem to get any sound out of it, but eventually after Squid Milliband tapped it a few times with his tentacles and then held it up to his ear to listen, they could hear the news report beginning.
“What a historic day we have here,” the news report said, in a thick cuttlefish accent, “as we wait to find out the results of what is undoubtedly the most important vote in Blotland’s history.
“And here comes the returning officer now. It looks like she is ready to announce the result.”
The conch went quiet briefly. Squid Clegg tapped it to try and make it work again, but Squid Milliband swatted his tentacle away. Eventually, a female cuttlefish’s voice could be heard through the conch.
“With an overwhelming majority, the Cephalopods of Blotland have voted to become an independent country. 66% to 34% in favour.”
The three politicians floated in stunned silence at the news, until the Prime Minister piped up after a few seconds.
“Oh bloody hell and bugger,” he said. “It’ll be the Whales wanting it next.”