Speculation over what might be included in this week’s Budget has been rather sombre; peppered with discussion of ‘revenue’, ‘sustainable growth’ and other economicksy expressions of a similarly depressing vernacular. The build-up to the biggest day in ‘Boy’ George Osborne’s calendar has, frankly, been moribund in the extreme, but just as I was beginning to lose hope for humanity and pondering making the necessary preparations for a new life in Svalbard, a lightning bolt of hope struck me from the blue: a moon base.
That’s right, a moon base. Critics have scoffed at Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich’s promise to dedicate efforts towards populating this great Babybel in the sky, but perhaps they weren’t tuned in to the gravity of his intellect. Think about this for a moment. Currently, our little island has few exciting prospects on the horizon – nothing says ‘clutching at straws’ like the synthetic excitement about our upcoming Olympic Games – so what could be more of a boost to industry, employment, innovation and national pride than a Budget announcing the creation of a British moon base? Certainly, a passport bearing the name ‘The United Kingdom of Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Lunar Territories’ would be the kind of passport you would be proud to slap on the surface of the Heathrow check-in desk.
The plan (which will surely be firmly ensconced in that battered red briefcase come Wednesday lunchtime) is simple but effective, ready to put in place just as soon as the country’s financial responsibilities have succeeded in ending poverty, strife and creating eternal peace. The moon base would effectively form a strategic outpost for fighting off possible invasions from arachnids, Decepticons and other hostile extra-terrestrial life forms. However, Her Majesty’s County of Moon-shire would also enjoy a space exploration programme with surplus housing for workers, funded by a privatised police force that uses the Nokia ringtone for sirens and advertisement. It is a project which both Marx and Thatcher could be proud of.
On a serious note – one that is attempting to claw itself to the surface – countries thrive on working towards tremendous goals. Nations such as China, India and Brazil motivate the masses with the promise of improved quality of life, political change and economic prosperity. The population works together, works hard and believes in a sense of purpose. It can almost be guaranteed that whatever George Osborne frantically sketches out this week will no sooner halt the national inertia and boredom than encourage your average Joe to drop his kebab, suit up with more gadgets than the Israeli army and join the shiny Moon Base Corps.
Speaking of other nations, I understand that the British occupation of the moon may cause some regrettable international controversy. Sean Penn would be furious, again accusing the UK of “archaic colonialism”, while only Russia and China would veto our expulsion from the UN Christmas party. It would be a most unpleasant business, remedied only by a fantasy budget-funded conference where the Prime Minister arrives via jet plane carrying a plate of state-owned Ferrero Roche and auctioning off plots of moon dust to the G20. This lunar investment would, however, provide the UK with some disposable income to pay off an enormous national debt, fix the windows smashed by rioters and buy the Queen ten dozen Diamond Jubilee commemorative yachts.
Without an idea as grand as the moon base, the 2012 Budget will be as bland as a rice cake. Unless, just for once, the government thinks outside of the box – thinks big and surprises us all with a brand new idea – Thursday morning will be occupied by commentators lamenting the Chancellor’s fundamental lack of imagination.