The (Tory)pion and the Fox
By Matthew S. Dent
The Scorpion (right) and the Fox (left)
There is an ancient fable, told as a warning against excessive foolishness or trust. It tells that there was once a Liberal Democrat fox, called Nick, who lived on the opposition bank, of the river Parliament. One day he heard someone calling his name.
Turning around, he saw a gathering of Tory scorpions. ‘Nick,’ they said. ‘Nick, please help us.’
‘Help you?’ he asked, suspicious. All foxes knew that scorpions were not to be trusted- especially Tory scorpions.
‘We need to get to the other side of the river,’ the lead scorpion, called Dave, explained. ‘We need to get to the government bank, but there aren’t enough of us to get across.’
Nick looked over at the other bank. It was green and fertile, with food a plenty, and many comfortable places to sleep in the sun. Although he had always lived on the opposition bank, he had never stopped dreaming of one day making it to the government bank.
‘But I’m just a fox,’ he said. ‘There are too many obstacles. I could never manage to land on the other side.’
‘We’ll help you,’ one of the scorpions, George, whispered to him. ‘If you take us across, we will let you stay.’
Nick considered this carefully. It was very tempting. No fox had set foot on the government bank in almost a hundred years. But he was still suspicious.
‘You’re scorpions,’ he said. ‘And Tories. Everyone knows what you’re like. You’ll sting me. and cut public services, lower taxes for the rich and neglect the poor.’
‘No!’ Dave said, with a chuckle. ‘Why would we do that? We haven’t been on the other bank for thirteen years, because we did that. If we did it again, we’d drown too. Why would we do that?’
Nick thought on this long and hard. He considered it for several days, talking to the other animals, while the Tory scorpions grew impatient. Eventually he returned to them with the other foxes, to give them an answer.
‘Alright,’ he said. ‘We’ll carry you across on our backs. But we want our pick of the best sleeping spots on the other side.’
‘Certainly!’ Dave agreed, delighted.
So the foxes began swimming across the river, with the Tory scorpions on their backs. The water was cold, and turgid. It took all of the foxes’ efforts to get across. But as they drew away from the opposition bank, and towards the government bank, the scorpions stung the foxes, on whose backs they rode.
‘But why?’ Nick asked. The Tories were slashing public spending, raising VAT, continuing Trident, cancelling essential economic projects, politicising the police and destroying the education system.
As the water over his mouth and nose, he pleaded, ‘Why? You’ve drowned yourself too.’
Next to him, Vince Cable was sinking fast, as George stung him again and again.
‘Why?’ Dave laughed. ‘I’m a Tory. It’s in my nature.’
Is it an ancient fable? Perhaps not. But it might be one day. Wake up, Nick.