Readers of a certain age will remember the scheme at the heart of the plot of Mel Brooks's The Producers – namely, to make a fortune by finding the worst play in the world and taking it to Broadway.
The two men at the heart of this criminal venture are Max Bialystock, a seedy producer, and Leo Bloom, a presenceless accountant. It is late at night, and the two shirtsleeved men are trawling through a pile of play manuscripts.
Bloom: Max, let's call it a night. It's two in the morning. I don't know what I'm reading anymore.
Bialystock: Read, read. We've got to find the worst play ever written.
(Bialystock turns his attention to a new script. He cracks it open and begins reading.)
Bialystock: Hmm. "Gregor awoke one morning to find he had been transformed into a giant cockroach…"
Cut to today's Palace of Westminster where, as part of a quartet with
Christopher Chope and David Nuttall, Peter Bone and Philip Hollobone
have conjured up an entire Alternative Queen's Speech – a venture first
embarked upon by this website.
Bone and Hollobone are anything but seedy and presenceless, let alone
the kind of men who get involved in criminal ventures. Indeed, they
are two independent and principled MPs. None the less, I thought of
that Mel Brooks scene when I read about their ploy this morning.
For just as Bialystock and Bloom had an aim – to make a loss – so do Bone and Hollobone: namely, to wind up the left, and fly it like a kite (not to mention advancing ideas in which they believe). Imagine: the two shirtsleeved men are trawling through a pile of bills…
Hollobone: Good Lord, it's morning. Let's face it, we'll never find it.
Bone (wearily): "A Bill to privatise the BBC."
Hollobone: Too predictable.
Bone: "A Bill to abolish the Department of Climate Change."
Hollobone: Too reasonable.
Bone: "A Bill to Ban the Burka".
Hollobone (pause): Not provocative enough.
Bone (suddenly): We'll never find it, eh? We'll never find it, eh? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.
(Bone is standing. At his feet lies a bill. He dances around it, his arms folded across his chest.)
Hollobone: Peter, what is it? What are you doing? What's happening?
(Bone bends down, picks up the bill and shakes it in Hollobone's face.)
Bone: This is freedom of want forever. This is a house in the country. This is a Rolls Royce and a Bentley. This is wine, Mrs Bone and song.
Hollobone: You've found the right bill!
(Hollobone snatches the bill from Bone's hands reads aloud the title.)
Hollobone (triumphantly): "A Bill to rename the August Bank Holiday Margaret Thatcher Day…"
A final point in closing. Benedict Brogan's usually infallible morning newsletter is sadly off-beam today on the subject of the Bone/Hollobone measures. He suggests that the real aim of the duo, plus of course Chope and Nuttall, is to wind up not the left, but David Cameron.
I can't imagine what on earth put this idea into his head.