Ahead of his BIG SPEECH to the Conservatory Conference, Mr Balloon has granted me EXCLUSIVE access to his breakfast table in Madam Cholet's cosy B&B on the Blackpool seafront (though his shoes are staying at the de luxe Hotel Plus Richesse).
MM: Mr Balloon, thank you for seeing me. Let's start with an easy one – what did you have for breakfast?
Balloon: Well, we faced tough choices – Mr Gumboot was trying to get me to have a half a grapefruit, but Mr Deadwood wanted me to have the Full English.
MM: But what did you choose?
Balloon: Well, it was a tough choice, so I decided to have my cake and eat it.
MM: Isn't that…
Balloon: Please don't interrupt me. What is important is that people know that I am taking decisive decisions and making the changes that they want. Small changes. Anyway, I had porridge.
MM: You had porridge?
Balloon: Yes, for breakfast. Definitely porridge.
MM: Aren't you just having what Mr Frown is having?
Balloon: Yes… But no... By which I mean maybe. It's a tough choice. I should think more so... Only less.
Balloon: Does he have sugar? Yes? Then I didn't have sugar – it's a sign of the ten wasted years, this New Labour indulgence in sugar. By not having sugar, I've saved enough for jam for everyone!
MM: Okay, turning to policies…
Balloon: Or does he take salt? I could do that; it would show how manly I am. How about this: we'll abolish inheritance tax for the rich and give free salt for first time porridge eaters!
MM: Mr Balloon, are you making up policies at the breakfast table?
MM: Anyway, what has inheritance tax got to do with breakfast?
Balloon: Or indeed with first time porridge eaters.
Balloon: Well, we want all the headlines to say "Conservatories sting the rich to help young porridge eaters."
MM: So why not do something to really help the people who need, er, porridge?
Balloon: Oh, no, the rich would never wear that! So we give the richest 6% a whopping great three billion pound inheritance tax freebie, and then cover it by dropping a couple of mill on porridge. Then get Johnny Foreigner to pay for it all.
MM: The Labour are claiming that your figures don't add up, though.
Balloon: Look, there are hundreds, possibly thousands of wealthy foreign non-doms in the country and that's almost hundreds of thousands.
MM: If you say so.
Balloon: Look, we've checked and this is backed up by Home Office figures that say there could be anything from four to six-hundred billion foreigners living right here in Blackpool…
Balloon: Look, many of these people are all too willing to do their bit. I spoke to one just today, Esme from Latvia, who happened to be serving my tea this morning. And I said to Esme as she was tucking in my napkin: "You'd be very happy to pay twenty-five thousand pounds to keep your tax status, wouldn't you?" and she answered very enthusiastically in the demotic Latvian that is her native tongue. Though she did drop my marmalade so I had to have her fired.
MM: That doesn't sound very nice.
Balloon: It was a tough choice.
MM: And isn't it just a bit rich to ask people who've come to work in this country to pay for your tax cuts when you've also said you think there's been too much immigration?
Balloon: It isn't racist to ask questions about immigration. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? No, flip, that was last time.
MM: But haven't you had a bit of a problem with racism, this week. A political aide to Lord Lyell has had to be suspended for making a joke using the "N" word on Facebook. And your Shadow Minister for ticking the token ethnic representation box, Ms Insider Warsi, said that British Nasty Party voters had some legitimate views on immigration!
Balloon: Look, Lady Warsi is NOT a racist… everyone knows she's a homophobe!
Balloon: Look, the important thing is that we've changed. The Conservatory Party used to be full of closet racists and bigots and we realise that that was wrong. So now we're much more open about it!
MM: Oh and in a very real sense kay.
Balloon: Look, it's a tough choice. I've led from the front on this. There are now almost as many black women in the Conservatory Party as there are Old Etonians in my Shadow Cabinet.
Balloon: I think it's about twelve, actually.
MM: Nice. So… tea or coffee?
Balloon: It's a tough choice. I'll have both. I like to have my tea flown in fresh from India and my coffee delivered from Brazil. But then I carbon offset it, by having my tea sent out to Brazil and my coffee shipped air freight to India.
MM: I don't think it works like that!
Balloon: Doesn't it?
Balloon: Look, the important thing is that you CAN have it both ways.
MM: No you CAN'T! It's like AIRPORTS – you say you want more development AND you want to stop any more development. Which is it?
Balloon: We decided that we were going to tax flights not people. It was a tough choice but it was the right thing to do.
MM: Stop avoiding the question! Anyway, isn't the POINT of taxing flights to reduce, or at least arrest the growth in air travel? Flying generates a LOT of CO2 which causes Climate Change and we want to stop it from getting WORSE. If you then say you'll build more airports, you seem to be encouraging MORE flying, MORE CO2 emissions and MORE Climate Change. Don't you understand what Green Taxes are FOR?
Balloon: Look, this is what people need to understand: it's not about flying tea around the world, it's about letting people shop at a Tesco the size of Luxemburg if they want to, and it's not about stopping the proles taking as many holidays as they like, it's about raising enough green taxes so that we can bribe the bugg… er, them with a special fund for "hardworking families".
MM: Yes, and what exactly is THAT supposed to mean, anyway?
Balloon: It means more tax credits.
MM: But that's just another of Mr Frown's policies!
Balloon: Look, tax credits are a failed, discredited symptom of Mr Frown's years of neglect. That's why we want to change them.
MM: You want to get rid of them?
Balloon: We want to make them even more complicated.
MM: But aren't tax credits just benefits in disguise? An increase in tax credits is REALLY an increase in spending. You're becoming a TAX and SPEND party!
Balloon: Ah, but because they count as negative tax it actually LOOKS like a tax CUT.
MM: So in fact you are proposing to use Green Tax as a Stealth Tax in order to increase spending.
Balloon: You have to learn that a lot of the truths we cling to depend on a certain point of view.
MM: Do not go all Obi-Wan Kenobi on me. Why not cut taxes for everyone?
Balloon: Everyone in the marginals, you mean?
MM: No, everyone everywhere.
Balloon: What? Even if they don't fit our centrally decided definition of what a "hardworking family" is?
MM: If you want to change how people treat the environment, you have to make it a REAL CHOICE for them. Give people back the tax money and then let THEM choose whether to go on polluting.
Balloon: That's just crazy talk.
MM: And speaking of crazies, what about Europe?
Balloon: I've made it clear that we shall be holding a referendum on the continental breakfast, and I shall be campaigning for a no vote.
MM: It's not REALLY a vote on the continental breakfast though, is it? It's just a vote on whether to have the croissants warmed up centrally.
Balloon: That's not the point.
MM: And isn't it more of a smorgasbord now, anyway, with all the opt outs we negotiated?
Balloon: Look, Mr Frown promised us a referendum and so we should make him have one. It’s the most flagrant breach of trust with the British People that I have ever seen.
MM: Apart from invading Iraq on made-up evidence.
Balloon: Okay, apart from that.
MM: And getting round the rules on fundraising by means of secret loans.
Balloon: Okay, apart from Iraq and the Loans for Peerages…
MM: And Bernie Eccleston's million pound donation.
Balloon: Oh, obviously.
MM: And imposing Student Top-Up fees even though they promised to legislate AGAINST introducing student top-up fees.
Balloon: So, apart from Iraq and Loans for Peerages and Bernie Eccleston and Tuition Fees…
MM: And Lord Blairimort promising to serve a "full term" and then disappearing off after only a couple of years.
Balloon: I'll come in again…
MM: Isn't the real reason you bang on about this treaty because it's safe for you to let your Euro-nutters off the leash on this one? It's hardly constructive criticism of the treaty, but it does ease the tension in the Conservatory Party between those who want out of Europe and those who want out of Europe but know that it would be economic suicide.
Balloon: Look, it's about trusting the people.
MM: So why not have a referendum on whether we stay in Europe or not?
Balloon: Because I don't trust the people.
MM: Well, I've heard that at least you are going to get rid of I.D.iot cards.
Balloon: Yes, that's right. We're going to use the money to deal with the Labour's failed policy of just locking people up.
MM: What would be your alternative?
Balloon: We would offer a SUCCESSFUL policy of just locking people up!
MM: Wouldn't that money be better spent on lots more policepeople to stop crime in the first place?
Balloon: Look, it's about tough choices. It's about taking responsibility.
MM: Locking people up and throwing away the key is "taking responsibility"?
Balloon: I didn't say I should be taking responsibility!
MM: You don't think that we should maybe try and do something a bit different, like reducing the number of people in prison so that the really dangerous ones can stay there for their full sentences?
Balloon: This is about the Broken Society, and you know what to do when something is broken, don't you?
MM: Try to fix it?
Balloon: Throw it in the bin and get a new one!
MM: There's been a lot of talk about defections this week. Mr John Beer-cow might defect to the Labour; Mr Zac Goldfinger might defect to the Liberal Democrats; Mr Boy George Oboe might defect to UKIP. Do you think Mr Oboe is being DISLOYAL by distancing himself from you?
Balloon: Gideon is a true Conservatory through and through.
MM: What do you mean?
Balloon: He's looking out for number one.
MM: Is he really mounting a leadership bid then?
Balloon: Well, I've always said: if you are going to stage a coup then don't be one of the ones inside the palace.
MM: Is he or isn't he?
Balloon: It's a tough choice.
MM: And why do you keep talking about "tough choices". It makes you sound like Lord Blairimort.
Balloon: Look, after literally weeks of Mr Frown, the country is crying out for change. New change. Real change. Change back to the way things were under Lord Blairimort. I can be that change!
MM: So you're not going to stop saying it?
Balloon: It's a tough choice, but no.
MM: Mr Balloon, do you REALLY think that you are ready to be Prime Monster in four weeks time?
[We are interrupted by several senior Conservatories on the next table falling about laughing. Mr Balloon stares at me like a rabbit facing a cat-monster, and then throws his orange juice in his face. I wait while he gets two flunkies to towel him off.]
MM: There're a lot of people saying that this might be your last conference in Blackpool.
Balloon: Oh, these conferences always take place in a one of these places beginning with "B". That's why next year we'll be moving to…
Balloon: With the troops all around us. It'll look magnificent.
MM: Didn't Fantastic Dr Fox say that that was a cynical stunt by Mr Frown?
Balloon: Yes. We wish we'd thought of it first!
MM: Mr Balloon, thank you for talking to me about your breakfast. One last question, was it self service?
Balloon: Oh no! It was handed to me on a plate… just like everything else in my life.
MM: Perhaps this is why you have made such a MESS! Mr Balloon, thank you very much.