Except when he was in Scotland. In Scotland, he was a proud Briton.
He was a smart Englishman too. That morning, he rose early and dressed very carefully. A suit that was smart, but not too smart. A tie that was just loud enough. His best camel coat with the velvet collar.
He didn’t want to look like a politician. Oh no. He knew far too much for that. He wanted everyone to think that he wasn’t like ordinary politicians.
It didn’t matter that he came from the same background as them.
It didn’t matter that he went to a Public School just like they did.
It didn’t matter that he was a millionaire just like them.
It didn’t matter that he was almost the same age as them.
It didn’t matter that he was a white, middle class man just like them.
It didn’t matter that he had done the same sort of job before politics as a lot of them.
It didn’t matter that he milked the expenses system just like most of them.
It didn’t matter that he employed his family at the taxpayers’ expense, just like a lot of them.
It didn’t matter that he manipulated statistics in his publicity just like them.
It didn’t matter that he played political games just like them.
None of that mattered, as long as he did his best to convince people that he wasn’t like them. And he knew exactly how to do that, because he was exactly like them. Only more so.
He wasn’t sure that he still liked the press. For a long time they had been his best friends. Telling lots of stories about the people he didn’t like. Spreading rumours that suited Mr Bigot’s plans. And not looking at all closely at Mr Bigot, or Mr Bigot’s friends.
Now, though, they weren’t as nice as they used to be. Today they were complaining about his posters, saying they were xenophobic. How dare they call us xenophobic? Mr Bigot thought. Our posters only tell people to be afraid of foreigners taking their jobs? What’s xenophobic about telling people to be afraid of foreigners?
And what’s wrong with employing your wife, even if she’s a foreigner herself? What’s wrong with using one of your aides in your publicity, and pretending she’s an ordinary member of the public? What’s wrong with using a foreign actor even if you want to stop foreign actors coming here? How dare they ask these questions?
Still, Mr Bigot knew how to deal with the press. A bit of a laugh. A bit of bluster. A knowing smile or two, and they’d be satisfied. And they were.
Even so, Mr Bigot wasn’t in the best of moods, until he realised it was Thursday. And Thursday meant Question Time. Mr Bigot strolled into the studio happily. That nice Mr Dimbleby had warmed Mr Bigot’s usual chair, and left his slippers underneath it. The slippers were soft and comfortable – and so were most of the questions.
Oh, there were a few awkward ones, but Mr Bigot fended them off with a laugh and a quick mention of how bad Brussels was – and the other parties had sent their usual identikit robots, so offered no challenge at all. And Mr Bigot’s mates had seeded the crowd with a few of their own – Mr Bigot knew the games every bit as well as the other politicians – so there were some nice soft questions to let Mr Bigot do his stuff. And Mr Dimbleby was as affable as ever.
‘See you next week, old chap’ Mr Dimbleby said to Mr Bigot after they’d shared a pint at the studio bar. Mr Bigot nodded and smiled.
You see Mr Bigot really wasn’t a bigot. Well, not that much of a bigot. He didn’t particularly hate foreigners. He didn’t particularly fear foreigners. He didn’t hate Muslims – as long as they didn’t practice Islam. He didn’t really hate gay people – as long as they didn’t think they deserved to get married. He didn’t even hate women. Well, not much. As long as they kept to their place.
So, mostly Mr Bigot couldn’t care that much either way about bigotry.
But he knew how to use bigotry. He knew very well. You couldn’t call it bigotry. You couldn’t admit it was bigotry. But, deep down, Mr Bigot knew what bigotry was, and he knew when he was being bigoted. And he made sure others knew too.
He knew that if the bigots who knew they were bigots thought he was a bigot, they’d vote for him.
He knew that if the bigots who couldn’t admit they were bigots didn’t think he was a bigot, they’d vote for him too.
And he knew that there were a lot of people who didn’t like politicians at all, and who could be convinced that he wasn’t like other politicians. And then they would vote for him too. Even though he really was like other politicians.
So, between the bigots, the closet bigots and the duped politician-haters, Mr Bigot would do very well.
And he smiled happily to himself.
Words by me, art by @KaiserOfCrisps