Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.

×

They came from a Millbank focus group

Carole Hayman's Hard Choices is a dystopian satire of life under New Labour in the year 0010. The book has been compared to 1984 and Brave New World. Here, Hayman provides a dictionary style introduction to the nightmare that is Blair-world.

August 1, 2003
8 min read

Albion:
Usually prefixed with “fayre”, the country that used to be known as England.
Booze:
Banned for the elite, who are never seen drinking in public. The lower orders are allowed MinCare Absinthe (licensed by the Ministry of Care), which keeps them nicely sedated.
Chain gangs:
The normal way to get roads and “home zones” (see below) built.
Cigarettes:
Completely banned; politically incorrect. Those caught puffing are “put out” by ducking stool.
Citizens” Councils:
These exist in every town. They check up on families and award certificates of praise for “firm family values”. It’s essential to have a few certificates if you want to avoid relegation to a Home Zone. Children are encouraged to snitch on their parents for anti-patriotic behaviour. For example: posters of the PM are de rigueur in every household, and everyone has to dip the head as they pass one; if a parent refuses to do so, a child can report them to the Neighbourhood Committee and have them put on a Bad Parenting (BP) file. The punishments for BP range from a public ticking off to being put in the town stocks and pelted with rotten tomatoes.
Compulsory-voluntary:
A term applied to work. It’s unpaid and theoretically voluntary, but actually compulsory if you want to stay in the “non-curfewed” class.
Curfews:
Imposed nationally; only the elite and those with special accreditation are allowed out after 10pm.
Doze:
A drug; most people are taking it – knowingly or unknowingly.
Drome:
The seat of government since the Palace of Westminster was turned into a museum. Drome is a moveable PVC balloon (full of hot air, some might say – but not publicly). Drome moves about the country from region to region – Sussex, Wessex, Mercia and so on.
Eat:
As in “eat your nuts!”; an exercise slogan.
Exercise classes:
Run by “happiness wardens” (see below); often instigated for passengers when a train breaks down.
Food:
There isn”t a lot of this (see “Rationing”). Meat is banned (protein inflames the passions) for all but the elite carnivores. For the rest there are “greens” and other veggies. A favourite is “Hay Soup”. There’s no real coffee (speeds people up), only ersatz decaffeinated “nut-noggin”.
Fox-hunting:
Hunting real foxes is banned, but as no government dares offend the toffs human “foxes” are pursued instead (see “Relocation centres”). Troublemakers are put into fox-skins and forced to run for their lives.
Gideon Price:
The prime minister.
Grace Fry:
The minister for women; the heroine.
Greens:
As in “greens are good!”; another exercise slogan.
Guerrillas:
Do they exist? The government blames “terrorist” attacks for the lateness of the trains. It’s true that they do have the odd derailment.
Happiness wardens:
They may pop into your home at any time of the day or night to check that you are living your life according to the proper principles of fulfilment. They dispense tick-box “Units of Satisfaction” forms for people to fill in. People must indicate which activities they pursue; the options are knitting and sewing, cooking and cleaning, jamming and pickling, etc, etc. The forms have to be printed in bold simple letters, as most happiness wardens can”t read very well – which, of course, keeps them happier.
Home zones:
Redundancies are rife, and families with no working members lose “Citizens” Privileges” and are relegated to curfew status. From there it’s a swift, slippery slope to a Home Zone. The non-working class – along with truants, troublemakers and hooligans – are sent to live in Stalinist-style blocks cut off from the rest of society. The ghettos are on the outskirts of towns and cities and have their own – extremely basic – infrastructure. No one is allowed out of them except with permission for travel or for special occasions. If, for example, the big stores” profits are down the Ministry of Mode (see below) creates ‘spend Days” when Home-Zone dwellers are taken on the Oxford St travelator, and given vouchers for things they can”t get in their own barely-stocked supermarkets.
Idleness:
It’s frowned on.
Jethro Stone:
The proprietor of The Daily Millennium and The Sunday Prophet and the owner of StoneTV.
King Isiah:
The Drug and Morality Tsar and the owner of “Ossophate” (see below).
Lady lord chancellor:
A replacement for the defunct post of lord chancellor. Grace Fry has been instrumental in the appointment of the incorrigible Eliza Barker to this position.
Marriage:
Considered of paramount importance – the unattached female being highly destabilising. There is virtual enforcement of marriage for the elite. Once married, women are required to wear a wig as in Jewish tradition.
Ministry of Mode:
A large government department created to promote “brands” or, in other words, the importance of style over substance.
National security wardens:
A fearsome group – the bogeymen of the zeitgeist. They police the streets with standard-issue buzzing electric batons, enforcing curfews and morality laws and arresting strays and vagrants.
Nightclubs:
Illegal, but one or two still exist; they are run by various mafias.
Ossophate:
The government’s favourite drug company. It makes, among other things, a fertiliser that grows monster vegetables. No one knows (or dares to ask) what goes into the fertiliser.
People’s Lottery:
Government-run and massive, with booths in every town, village and hamlet. The proceeds are used to pay for the equally massive peoples” surveillance.
Queens:
Ssh! Absolutely not allowed, except for the royal sort.
Rationing:
For food; brought in after the “Great Panic”. Families live on vegetables and grow their own – with the help of Ossophate fertiliser.
Relocation centres:
Created to take care of people who are refugees and asylum seekers, as well as gypsies, criminals and the homeless. Though they have five-star facilities, they are, in reality, forced labour camps. Those who abscond or offend are used as human targets in “fox” hunts, or put to work in chain gangs.
Room of perpetual night:
A room full of TV screens in the Drome, which is running a Big Brother-type surveillance operation. Surveillance generally is massive (see “Peoples” Lottery”); there are CCTV cameras on every lamppost.
Saint George:
The red and white national flag and uber-symbol. The PM delivers his conference speech togged out in full medieval armour.
Tomatoes:
Whatever you do, don”t touch them!
Transport:
Not much. No cars anymore, except for the elite. Others have to use trams, bikes or rickshaws. Trains still don”t run on time (see “Guerrillas”). Only a few individuals are licensed to travel on them, anyway.
Travel:
For most people, there isn”t any (See “Transport”).
Unions:
Completely outlawed (this goes back to the troubles with the “Fire Quenchers”).
Vault:
A subterranean space full of black-arts material to be used for blackmail and spinning; one belongs to The Daily Millennium, but be warned – there are others.
War:
Like most other countries in the West, Fayre Albion is locked into an endless war against mysterious, unseen forces. It’s been going on for so long that no one remembers the causes.
Wristbleeps:
Modelled on a Japanese toy, these devices have the added use of giving a short sharp shock to the wearer if he or she is late for an appointment. They are compulsory for all “People’s Representatives”. Ministers wear especially strong ones – ouch!
Xmas:
Not any more; now re-branded ‘santamime”, with PM Gideon Price in a sleigh, dispensing big smiles and small presents.
Zedo:
Another drug; this one is illegal and used for recreational purposes.

Hard Choices is published by Aurora Metro.

For more see: www.hardchoices.co.uk

Red Pepper is an independent, non-profit magazine that puts left politics and culture at the heart of its stories. We think publications should embrace the values of a movement that is unafraid to take a stand, radical yet not dogmatic, and focus on amplifying the voices of the people and activists that make up our movement. If you think so too, please support Red Pepper in continuing our work by becoming a subscriber today.
Why not try our new pay as you feel subscription? You decide how much to pay.

Fearless Cities: the new urban movements
A wave of new municipalist movements has been experimenting with how to take – and transform – power in cities large and small. Bertie Russell and Oscar Reyes report on the growing success of radical urban politics around the world

A musical fightback against school arts cuts
Elliot Clay on why his new musical turns the spotlight on the damage austerity has done to arts education, through the story of one school band's battle

Neoliberalism: the break-up tour
Sarah Woods and Andrew Simms ask why, given the trail of destruction it has left, we are still dancing to the neoliberal tune

Cat Smith MP: ‘Jeremy Corbyn has authenticity. You can’t fake that’
Cat Smith, shadow minister for voter engagement and youth affairs and one of the original parliamentary backers of Corbyn’s leadership, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali

To stop the BBC interviewing climate deniers, we need to make climate change less boring
To stop cranks like Lord Lawson getting airtime, we need to provoke more interesting debates around climate change than whether it's real or not, writes Leo Barasi

Tory Glastonbury? Money can’t buy you cultural relevance
Adam Peggs on why the left has more fun

Essay: After neoliberalism, what next?
There are economically-viable, socially-desirable alternatives to the failed neoliberal economic model, writes Jayati Ghosh

With the new nuclear ban treaty, it’s time to scrap Trident – and spend the money on our NHS
As a doctor, I want to see money spent on healthcare not warfare, writes David McCoy - Britain should join the growing international movement for disarmament

Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India
Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India, by Shashi Tharoor, reviewed by Ian Sinclair

A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour
A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour: Kenya, Britain and the Julie Ward Murder, by Grace A Musila, reviewed by Allen Oarbrook

‘We remembered that convictions can inspire and motivate people’: interview with Lisa Nandy MP
The general election changed the rules, but there are still tricky issues for Labour to face, Lisa Nandy tells Ashish Ghadiali

Everything you know about Ebola is wrong
Vicky Crowcroft reviews Ebola: How a People’s Science Helped End an Epidemic, by Paul Richards

Job vacancy: Red Pepper is looking for an online editor
Closing date for applications: 1 September.

Theresa May’s new porn law is ridiculous – but dangerous
The law is almost impossible to enforce, argues Lily Sheehan, but it could still set a bad precedent

Interview: Queer British Art
James O'Nions talks to author Alex Pilcher about the Tate’s Queer British Art exhibition and her book A Queer Little History of Art

Cable the enabler: new Lib Dem leader shows a party in crisis
Vince Cable's stale politics and collusion with the Conservatives belong in the dustbin of history, writes Adam Peggs

Anti-Corbyn groupthink and the media: how pundits called the election so wrong
Reporting based on the current consensus will always vastly underestimate the possibility of change, argues James Fox

Michael Cashman: Commander of the Blairite Empire
Lord Cashman, a candidate in Labour’s internal elections, claims to stand for Labour’s grassroots members. He is a phony, writes Cathy Cole

Contribute to Conter – the new cross-party platform linking Scottish socialists
Jonathan Rimmer, editor of Conter, says it’s time for a new non-sectarian space for Scottish anti-capitalists and invites you to take part

Editorial: Empire will eat itself
Ashish Ghadiali introduces the June/July issue of Red Pepper

Eddie Chambers: Black artists and the DIY aesthetic
Eddie Chambers, artist and art historian, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali about the cultural strategies that he, as founder of the Black Art Group, helped to define in the 1980s

Despite Erdogan, Turkey is still alive
With this year's referendum consolidating President Erdogan’s autocracy in Turkey, Nazim A argues that the way forward for democrats lies in a more radical approach

Red Pepper Race Section: open editorial meeting – 11 August in Leeds
The next open editorial meeting of the Red Pepper Race Section will take place between 3.30-5.30pm, Friday 11th August in Leeds.

Mogg-mentum? Thatcherite die-hard Jacob Rees-Mogg is no man of the people
Adam Peggs says Rees-Mogg is no joke – he is a living embodiment of Britain's repulsive ruling elite

Power to the renters: Turning the tide on our broken housing system
Heather Kennedy, from the Renters Power Project, argues it’s time to reject Thatcher’s dream of a 'property-owning democracy' and build renters' power instead

Your vote can help Corbyn supporters win these vital Labour Party positions
Left candidate Seema Chandwani speaks to Red Pepper ahead of ballot papers going out to all members for a crucial Labour committee

Join the Rolling Resistance to the frackers
Al Wilson invites you to take part in a month of anti-fracking action in Lancashire with Reclaim the Power

The Grenfell public inquiry must listen to the residents who have been ignored for so long
Councils handed housing over to obscure, unaccountable organisations, writes Anna Minton – now we must hear the voices they silenced

India: Modi’s ‘development model’ is built on violence and theft from the poorest
Development in India is at the expense of minorities and the poor, writes Gargi Battacharya

North Korea is just the start of potentially deadly tensions between the US and China
US-China relations have taken on a disturbing new dimension under Donald Trump, writes Dorothy Guerrero