Nick Clegg has announced ambitious plans to create a British Moonbase by the end of the next parliament, rallying Liberal Democrat voters with a stirring pledge to make the Moon ‘Britain’s 136th area of unitary local government”.
The plan, hailed as ‘unprecedented in its vision’ by senior Liberal Democrats, has caused an instant surge in support for Mr Clegg’s troubled party and is seen as an open challenge to US Republican presidential contender Newt Gingrich.
‘Gingrich says the Moon should be America’s 51st state,’ Clegg said in a rousing speech in his constituency in Sheffield. ‘But I have a different vision, of simplified local authority structures and a highly devolved regulatory apparatus […] incorporating community representation and neighbourhood initiative management […] with local decisions in the hands of local people who have fully localised budget responsibility within a framework of centrally-managed […] fiscal oversight […] which is why in due course I will direct the Boundary Commission to initiate a review of lunar […] administration and finance arrangements with a view to […] electing an interim unitary authority for the Moon by, on or before […] Thursday 1 April 2020 or […] at the next general election but one, whichever is […] the sooner.’
Liberal Democrat activists were ‘heartened’ by Mr Clegg’s bold, yet detailed, plan. ‘Since the dawn of time, men and women have gazed up at the stars and wondered what form of local government would be the best way to administer the heavens,’ insisted a Lib Dem strategist. ‘With Nick Clegg’s visionary leadership, the Liberal Democrats are once again a force to be reckoned with in the universe. You know, like before. I can’t remember exactly when, we just were.’
Reaction to the plan among the party’s Conservative coalition partners was more sceptical. ‘Yes, we heard about that,’ said Prime Minister David Cameron. ‘Sam and I have decided that Nick mustn’t watch any more Brian Cox documentaries before bedtime. If he wants his party to travel further than they’ve ever gone before, only to end up suffocated and eternally adrift in the dark and endless void, they don’t need to go to the Moon – they’re already in the Coalition.’