A similar thought had already occurred to me. On the day that Stephen Crabb (who?) announced his desire to succeed David Cameron as Prime Minister, I wondered: what sort of person would volunteer for a job like that – not Boris Johnson, we found out on Thursday. Not me either. But what would I do if I was accidentally thrust into the position?
Imagine the situation. One moment I might have been responding to the Racehorse Owners Association Chairman’s naïve comments on Tuesday, about imposing BHA control on racecourse fixtures, by saying something like: “Competition is the best way to ensure that the industry’s stake-holders obtain the maximum return on their investment.” The next moment, amid speculation that I could have been making a wider point about economics in the age of capitalism, I might have been hailed as the post-Brexit leader of the nation.
The first thing I’d do as Prime Minister is create a statutory levy on revenue from footballers’ wages and transfer deals. About 98% ought to do it. I’d give the money to sports at which the British aren’t completely rubbish, like Rugby Union, horse racing and darts. I’d be sympathetic to arguments that chess qualifies as a sport – and possibly dance, on the basis that my daughter enjoys it and more girls attend ballet lessons than tennis lessons.
I’d declare a four-day public holiday in mid-march, while making it illegal to travel on the road during the Cheltenham Festival unless you are actually heading to the racecourse (including racecourses like Sedgefield, Huntingdon, Hexham and Fakenham, which provide an alternative vantage point for jump racing’s Championship races). Road-works throughout Cheltenham week would also be banned.
Despite leaving the European Union, I’d be keen to maintain strong trade links with our neighbours - particularly the Irish, who breed so many nice horses. There would be regular delegations for cabinet members to places like Bellewstown, where I’m told there exists a racecourse which is not unlike Cartmel – and where this weekend’s selection is Clarcam in the first race on Saturday.
And to satisfy those nice WASPI protestors, I’d get the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to have a go at implementing fair transitional arrangements for women born in the 1950s. What’s the Minister’s name? …Stephen Crabb?
On the other hand, perhaps I’ll just leave the politics to him, Theresa May, Michael Gove and whoever else decides to enter the contest. It’ll be an interesting race.