"Greetings, dear reader. I am the Ghost of Christmas Future. Come with me on a short journey, to our first Carolean Christmas…
"‘Tis Christmas Eve. Scrooge Kwarteng sits in his office, enjoying a postprandial brandy and cigar. Above a roaring fire, the mantelpiece is filled with Christmas cards from his rich friends. No wonder, for Scrooge’s tax cuts have made them much richer this year.
"Across the land, shops are filled with people, but most are not there to buy festive food and gifts, for they have nothing to spend. They are there for warmth, as these are Hard Times, and only the rich can afford to heat their homes. Those lucky enough to have a few coins loiter near the fresh food, hoping to grab some yellow stickered items before the shops close. Among these is Roberta Cratchit, a hard-working nurse. She hopes her salary will stretch to a few items from the supermarket’s Pauper Range, so her family need not go hungry on Christmas Day. Roberta wishes she could afford a Christmas present for her sick son, Tiny Tom. Malnutrition has given Tom rickets and anaemia, but the NHS is underfunded, and Tom can’t get a GP appointment, never mind the hospital treatment he needs.
"The queue from a nearby food bank stretches for miles, but there is not enough food to go round, as few can afford to donate during this cost of living crisis. Angry murmurings are heard as two TV presenters dodge the queue, but Holly and Phil have media passes, so the rules of common decency do not apply to them.
"The surrounding streets are lined with makeshift tents, occupied by those who can no longer afford a roof over their heads. A police constable passes by – a rare sight in these times of government cutbacks. The tents should not be there, but he does not have the heart to move these people on. He will soon join this illegal campsite himself, for his salary is no longer enough for the basic necessities of life.
"Yet Scrooge Kwarteng does not care about any of this, as he sits by his fireside. Wait - who the Dickens is this spectral figure, entering Scrooge’s office? Is it the Ghost of Christmas Past? No, it is Jacob Rees-Mogg, joining Scrooge for brandy and cigars, before Nanny puts him to bed.
"It is the worst of times… it is the worst of times."