As part of his austerity measures, aimed at cutting the welfare bill, Chancellor George Osborne announced today that benefit claimants will have to fight “to the death” in a series of brutal and barbaric contests. Venues already booked include Anfield, Old Trafford, St James’s Park and some of the London stadiums, which can accommodate large numbers of spectators, unemployed people, savage animals, criminals and people claiming disability benefits.
The gladiatorial encounters come in the wave of the Olympics and Paralympics, which did so much, during the summer of 2012, to distract the public’s attention from the country’s economic woes. “You ain’t seen nothing yet”, Osborne promised, as he unveiled plans to pit claimant against claimant, in a life-or-death struggle. “The winners will keep their housing benefits, income support, jobseekers’ allowance, winter fuel payments and free prescriptions. Losers will forfeit... everything”.
Spectators will be able to vote, X-Factor style. “A simple thumbs-down from a baying crowd will consign a combatant to oblivion. A gladiator who has fought bravely will win the public’s respect; his reward will be a swift death, by decapitation. A coward will be sent to his grave with mocking laughter in his ears, as he is chased around the arena by clowns armed with pointed sticks. A thumbs-up will save a gladiator... to carry on claiming benefits, and fight another day”.
Osborne introduced a man dressed in full gladiatorial combat outfit, with helmet, sword and net, as his “special champion, Mongo the Merciless”. Mongo (previously known as Trevor Allsop, an unemployed systems analyst from Basingstoke) will take on all-comers at the first event, to be held at the Olympic Arena on Boxing Day (tickets now on sale... no concessions). The chancellor showed off Mongo’s toned torso, and rubbed baby oil on his bulging biceps, before issuing a bold challenge to the old, the idle, the infirm and the workshy.
“If anybody wants to fight Mongo, and maybe have a chance of hanging onto his bus pass, let him throw down the gauntlet here and now. Citizens of Britain... let the games begin!”...