Use Lottery Money To Pay For A Royal Yacht? Ok – Under These Conditions

As a naive and sexless 16-year-old I once admitted to my psychology class that I had a phobia of large, red, salty boats. Big ships. Tankers, liners, cruise ships, yachts – that sort of thing. Only for us all to turn, the following week, to Freudian dream theory and the symbolism of boats, and have that same room full of 16-year-olds suddenly and gleefully accuse me of having a latent terror of large, red, wet and salty vaginas.

Club together to give one of the richest women in the country a new boat to holiday in? What a gloriously Tory idea

Bearing such a phobia in mind, you can imagine my sinking-knicker sense of doom upon reading that a group of 50 Conservative MPs has written to ministers in the cabinet of our heartless-ditherer-in-chief, Theresa May, suggesting that we set up a national lottery to raise £120m to give the Queen a new yacht. That’s right – we all club together in a lovely national fit of gambling to give one of the richest women in the entire country a new boat to holiday in. What a gloriously and deeply Tory idea. It finally feels as if every cream-chinos, steak-and-ale-pie, trip-to-the-garden centre, Dire-Straits-in-the-car, 20-Benson-and-Hedges, comb-over cliche has finally found a home in government at the moment, doesn’t it? With the attitude to the royal family acting as a sticky, tasteless cherry on top of all of it.

Those who have added their names to the letter said the new lottery game would allow the public to feel “the pride of having a stake” in the boat that would “showcase the best of British business and project our humanitarian role across the globe” after Brexit. Remember “the pride of having a stake” in things? Like the railways and the Royal Mail and the health system and or energy supply? That’s right: through taxation. Perhaps this is how we’ll have to explain taxation to our grandchildren: it was like a huge Kickstarter campaign that everyone in the country paid into, directly from their wages instead of the faff of sponsorship, and then we all received “rewards” throughout the year by using those things whenever we needed. Or like a lottery, where we all bought a monthly ticket of ownership and then could cash in that stake through lower prices, a more efficient system and profits that stayed within the economy.

I still take pride in having a stake in the BBC, in schools, in hospitals, in the few bits of public infrastructure that haven’t been sold off in the name of a quick undervalued buck and a slow disintegration of service. I would gladly pay more to “have a stake” in more of the nation’s services, institutions and investments. But in a big holiday boat for a family already subsidised to the tune of hundreds of millions by British taxpayers? Perhaps not.

As the letter says: “As we leave the European Union, there has never been a better time to consider how Britain projects herself on the world stage.” Absolutely bloody right. For instance, we could actually follow the Dubs amendment and provide shelter to the thousands of children fleeing war, terrorism and starvation as refugees. Although, of course, May’s government decided not to do that. Or, if we want to make things really red-white-and-British, we could actually get back all the money hidden in British overseas territories such as Jersey by tax-avoiding millionaires and use all our unpaid tax (more than £12.8bn in five years, according to some Labour party claims) to get rid of homelessness, or pay for our schools, or pay nurses properly. Imagine the impression that would make on the world stage. Although May doesn’t seem to want to do that either.

But don’t worry friends – I’ve sorted this one. I’ve cracked it. Those of us who can afford it, all put in £2, build the boat, and then run this ship as a sort of national timeshare. Jim, Elaine, Sanjay, Morris, Colin: we can all use it for our holidays when our number comes up. And the Queen can do the same. If she wants to use it a lot then she can buy a lot of tickets. In 40 years of service, the old HMY Britannia took part in 968 official visits, travelling more than 1m miles at sea. That’s, what, 25 holidays a year? If we put in £4 each we could probably bump that up to 50 holidays easily, right? And – this may be wild speculation as to the number of toilets the Windsors use, but what the hell – I’m imagining you could fit quite a few British families on HMY Britannia at a time. Say, 100? I’d happily shout a few of my friends and neighbours, maybe even some of my family, a timeshare in a massive floating palace of luxury with no exits.

Just don’t expect me to climb aboard. Not without a lot of therapy first.

• Nell Frizzell is a freelance journalist

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