Free beer … and other gifts to help restore faith in democracy

EuroActiv Politico News

Welcome to Declassified, a weekly humor column.

Looking back, perhaps letting the cameras film a meeting of the British Cabinet on Wednesday morning wasn’t the greatest of ideas. Hours before any of us — up to and including Prime Minister Boris Johnson — knew that Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid were going to quit, and the meeting still had all the joie de vivre of a hostage video.

Then, finally, on Thursday Johnson announced was resigning. It took a while. Why would any politician desperately cling to office while metaphorically sat in a dumpster that is on fire and being pushed at breakneck speed toward a cliff at the bottom of which are sharks and barbed wire? (There’s no need to answer that question in this case as we all know the answer … having no sense of shame whatsoever. That and Downing Street being handily placed for a visit to the London Aquarium.)

“Nero fiddles while Rome burns” is the cliche to roll out at times like these, although the fiddling in question wouldn’t have been on a violin as they were invented about 1,500 years later. Nero was, however, partial to playing another instrument, the lyre (insert your own “so is Boris Johnson” joke here).

And on the flip side, why does anybody even vote considering that if you do and your chosen elected representative then breaks a bunch of rules, they won’t quit?

The answer to that last question, by the way, is noodles.

In Japan, there’s an election to the upper house of parliament on Sunday and there are fears that young people won’t vote because they are too busy doing whatever young people do these days (probably TikTok and ketamine). So a major Japanese ramen chain is offering endless free noodle refills for two weeks to young people who can prove they’ve voted.

This is a great idea and one that can be adapted for closer to home. Hardly anyone votes in European Parliament elections, for example, so how about free pintjes at bars on Place Lux for young people who can prove they’ve listened to a four-hour Guy Verhofstadt speech?

And in the U.K. maybe the only way to undo the damage to democracy caused by Johnson’s long refusal to step down is to offer free vegan sausage rolls from Greggs to every voter at the next election.

Romania and Bulgaria might want to give this system a miss as they have elections so often that they’d be bankrupt within a year of giving out freebies.


“We go live to the Backstreet Boys reunion press conference.”

Can you do better? Email or on Twitter @pdallisonesque

Last week we gave you this photo:

Thanks for all the entries. Here’s the best from our postbag — there’s no prize except for the gift of laughter, which I think we can all agree is far more valuable than cash or booze.

“What do you mean I have to step down?” by Clive Ponsenby

Paul Dallison is POLITICO‘s slot news editor.