REMEMBER, remember, the Fifth of September – today we’ll know if the new Prime Minister is Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak. Is that date likely to be auspicious or ominous for the new occupant of No 10?
Unfortunately, Mystic Weaver’s crystal ball has clouded over in prediction mode. But perhaps looking at how September 5 has panned out in the past can give us some idea what’s likely to happen.
So, with crystal ball in reverse, here’s what I’m seeing …
September 5, 1698: Russian emperor Peter the Great controversially imposed a tax on beards. Men who remained resolutely hirsute had to pay a fine of 100 roubles or face a shameful public shaving.
So is levying a beard tax a good idea for the incoming Prime Minister? Definitely not – it would make Jeremy Corbyn a martyr.
September 5, 1793: In revolutionary France, the National Convention unleashed the Reign of Terror against political dissidents, sending 17,000 to the guillotine. The bloody spree was overseen by Maximilien Robespierre and the Committee of Public Safety (were they having a laugh when they called it that?).
It was gory stuff. But it’s a reminder that when the new Premier takes office, political heads a-plenty will roll among those who dissed him / her during the leadership contest.
September 5, 1839: Britain despatched gunboats against China in the First Opium War and won 11 months later.
Memo to the new PM: Don’t start another war with the Chinese – these days, instead of muskets and spears, they’ve got nukes. Even more importantly, they supply us with virtually all the necessities of life, because we no longer make stuff ourselves.
September 5, 1914: The First Battle of the Marne started in France during the Great War, leading to a four-year stalemate of grinding, attritional trench warfare.
Get your tin hat on and start digging, PM, because come September 5, you’re in for a long slog of grinding, attritional warfare in the trenches of Westminster.
September 5, 1916: An epic silent film opened in Hollywood, whose title Liz or Rishi might have to adopt as official policy. Directed by D W Griffith, it was called Intolerance.
Well, so far, Mystic Weaver has been more misfortune-teller than fortune-teller, with no positive September 5 precedents to give the incoming Prime Minister a boost. Could there be some inspiration from the entertainment world? Let’s see …
September 5, 1970: The song topping the charts was Tears of a Clown.
September 5, 1972: The chart-topper was Mama Weer All Crazee Now.
Hmm. Neither is exactly the anthem for a victory rally, is it?
September 5, 1976: The Muppet Show was launched – about a gang of freakish, undisciplined oddballs led by a wimpish frog. Not very encouraging for someone trying to put together a Cabinet.
Maybe there’s been a sign from the heavens to inspire our new PM?
September 5, 2001: A scientific conference in Washington DC heard evidence of an astonishing cosmic phenomenon. Was it a bright new shining star that could be seen as the symbol of hope and renewal? Sadly, no, Prime Minister … it was a black hole.
So if past dates are any indication, September 5, 2022 isn’t looking very promising. Perhaps the best thing to do when the brave new Tory age dawns on that day is to follow the example of the Voyager One spacecraft.
On September 5, 1977, it was launched by Nasa from Florida and has been hurtling away from Earth ever since. It’s currently 14.5billion miles away … and it’s not coming back.