“Just one thing?” I asked of Sir Alan. “How does this scenario end up with Lord Bixby murdered in my office building?”
“There was some news. We had advanced warning that something was going to happen. Something unexpected. Something that required an immediate response.”
Ch 49 – Top Secret
“Its..top secret. No one really knows. Only a handful of people.”
“Sir Alan. I can pick up the phone there, and have the world’s media asking you questions, in ten minutes time. Not to mention the authorities. The Department doesn’t like being duped. Already has a hundred or so Health and Safety violations just for the trash machine. They would love a word with you. Vanessa,” I said, turning to look at her, as she sat with her legs curled up on the sofa. “Would you hand me your mobile phone.”
“OK..Joe..I’ll tell you.” Sir Alan told me quickly. Not yet ready for a phone call.
Though in truth, neither was I. If the police came in here now, who knew what story they would tell? That I’d kidnapped them? Threatened to murder them? The Police marksman could kill me before I could even say, “Do come in.”
This was a very difficult situation. And although we were sat around in sumptuous surroundings. Drinking the finest wines and vaping away, this was actually a lot like the stand-off in Reservoir Dogs. I doubted we’d all emerge from here alive.
“What’s the big news? Scotland another bridge? To Norway this time?”
It was a little dig at him. He’d been heavily involved with HS3. The high speed, Solar powered, railway. Planned to travel from Glasgow to Exeter, it hadn’t gone more than seven miles before it was over sixty five billion Euro-pounds over budget. And quietly shelved.
Sir Alan sighed. He worked his jaw with his hand. He really didn’t want to tell me anything. As if it even mattered, now. But it was habit with him. He was a keeper of secrets. A devourer of them. Secrets were his business. He never divulged if he could help it. Now, he couldn’t help it.
“Kier Starmer is going. There’s a coup. Next week sometime. He’s going to be voted out by the PLP.”
That was a surprise. He was very popular with Labour members. And the establishment. The left wing press liked him for his bland, metropolitan socialism.
The BBC for his devout commitment to Rejoin. And C4 because he was a millionaire Marxist in the Bernie Sanders mould.
“They’ll never vote him out. The Labour party itself is even more Remainer than he is.” Not quite true. But almost.
“They will.” Said Lord Bixby. “The Unions have said they will pull ALL funding unless he goes. Immediately. They have had enough of Remain. Remain is costing too many votes. Costing subs. UNITE misjudged their workers. So although the union leaders put Starmer in, to keep the EU close, the actual members were disgusted. They want OUT. Even with Johnson gone, Leave is still more popular.
“Labour are nowhere in the polls,” Sir Alan reminded me. “Down to 21% now. And sinking. With no SNP in parliament, and no Labour-Liberals to stop them, the Tories are passing all that anti-union legislation. Its about all they can pass without Brussels approval, within the non-withdrawal agreement.
The Unions have had enough. They want Brexit passed. So they can fight the government again.”
“I can show you data, Joe,” continued Sir Alan. “Show you private polling. Not the shit we let the papers have. But the commissioned and never released polling, by the Labour party. I tell you. It’s dismal. A Liverpool seat might go blue. Liverpool! That’s how bad it is.”
“So? So what? That’s not news.” I said. It wasn’t. Labour doing badly had been going on for ever. But they still limped on. The Tories opposition hadn’t been Labour for a very long time. The Conservatives main opposition had been, and still was, The Conservatives.
“Labour change their leader all the time. All those women. I forget their names now..Who was it Long-Nandos? Claire Rayner? Everyone gets a turn, isn’t it?”
“Starmer, as you well know, is Remain. The third referendum bill is the last hope for Remain. If we lost that, it would all be over. If word got out Starmer was going, he might lose his power to whip. Might lose anyway. So, we changed the plan from A to B. Plan B would have much more power.”
“To B?” I asked. “What was B?”
Sir Alan looked disappointed with me. A star pupil who didn’t know a very simple answer to an easy question. He had seemed quite pleased with me earlier. A #thicko Leaver I might be. But one who was managing to keep up with the intricate politics of the Elite. Now, I could see him wondering if he misjudged me. Considering that I might not be as bright as I had first seemed. A bit of a Lammy.
He didn’t say anything. But he did smile encouragingly. Hoping I could work it out for myself. And of course, in a flash I saw I could. It really was obvious.
Once you knew the vote was in just a few days and the vote was tight.
“You Jo Cox’d him.” I said to Alan. Then I looked at Lord Bixby. “They Jo Cox’d you!”
And he nodded to confirm.
* * *
Sir Alan looked pleased with me again. The star scholarship pupil having recovered from their blunder. I spoiled his appreciation for his recently discovered Eliza Doolittle find of a gutter Private Eye, by adding,
Sir Alan raised his palms to me. Knowing this was the danger moment. That we all needed to just get through this stage of the bad news cycle. The anger stage. Then we could all move onto acceptance and resolution.
Just as long as we all managed to pass through this phase. Without me killing all of them.
“Take it easy, Joe! Take it easy. No one was killed. No real harm has been done.” He regretted that last bit immediately.
“No harm done? Look at my fuckin’ ear!” I furiously turned my head so he could see where the bullet had burned the top of it off as it passed against my skull.
“Yes..yes..I appreciate that, Joe. I see you’ve been hurt. But that wasn’t meant to happen.”
“It really wasn’t, Joe. I don’t know what went and happened. I was horrified when they told me you’d been fired upon.” Vanessa. Still curled on the chair. Eyes bright.
Face sincere. She might even have meant it.
“Just stay calm, Joe.” Sir Alan again. “Think carefully. Don’t do anything you might regret. We can work all this out. Work it out to all our advantages. I’ll explain it to you. Just give me a chance.”
“Just listen to us, Malone. We’ll explain it all.” Marmon’s voice.
Sir Alan would have kicked him, if he’d been able to without me seeing. To stop Bixby from keep saying, ‘Malone.’ Instead of the more personal, ‘Joe.’
No one said anything more. The tension building as I moved the gun across each of them in turn. I struggled to keep myself under control. I wouldn’t be able to fight three of them. I was injured. Only had one properly functioning hand. I wasn’t even really armed. This pistol was unloaded.
“OK, listen to me..Joe. I will tell you everything. About Bixby. And Cox. Just ask me, and I will explain it all. Whatever you say. You’re the boss! Okay? You have full control. I will obey your every command. I hope you can understand that.”
He couldn’t help himself. Trickery and manipulation was in his DNA.
My headache was back. Making big white spirals at the top of my vision. Lack of sleep, mostly. So I told said to him with a weary sigh,
“Just get on with it.”
Sir Alan sat back.
We all did.
And listened to his cultured tones as he spilled the whole story.
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file