The Prime Minister’s Last Question


(UK Parliament [CC / Flickr])

As your Prime Minister, I will never allow the universal basic income bill to pass into law. There are already too many people on benefits and while I understand the right honourable member’s concern for Doreen…I beg your pardon, Dora of Macclesfield, and I sympathise with her having been made redundant by a robot, we have to live in the real world.

Yes, Mr Speaker, I am well aware that robots will replace around forty percent of the workforce in the next two decades, and that will add around twelve million people to the benefits system. The burden on the taxpayer will be close to intolerable without increasing the amount we pay them.

Yes, I am well aware that it is the real world that will be turning taxpayers into benefit claimants. That does not change the facts. I refer the question to my right honourable friend, the minister for work and pensions, who invariably has the facts at his fingertips…

There, as my honourable friend says, balancing the economy is more of an art than a science. I utterly refute the shouty member’s suggestion that his comments reflect any lack of understanding of economics on his part. Or on mine. I have a first in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford.

Mr Speaker, I find this line of questioning disingenuous. Profit is the base of our economy and it is this party’s policy to move to a high wage, low benefit economy. There is no reason at all to anticipate that robots replacing much of the workforce represent any difficulty at all with that policy.

You have my assurance that robots will be good for the economy. I have a degree from Oxford, Mr Speaker, so trust me when I say you can take that to the bank.

Mr Speaker, twisting the projections is an easy game to play from the opposite bench, but this government is responsible for running the economy, for which I enjoy the full support of this party.

I said I enjoy the full support of… yes, let us have a question from my honourable friend, the member for Harborough.

I beg your pardon?

Mr Speaker, I must object to an untabled motion of no confidence. I had received no notice… I strenuously disagree that the role of Prime Minister would be better carried out by a software algorithm. No, that is not what I meant when I said we have to live in the real world. And I am certain I enjoy the full support of the house when I say that.

Don’t I?



Possibly related to a recent opinion piece by Federico Pistono, and definitely related to a previous pontification.


The burning question:

How worried are you about the replacement of skilled labour by artificial intelligence? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Tagged with: ,
Posted in Saturday Hooptedoodle
2 comments on “The Prime Minister’s Last Question
  1. Terry Kidd says:

    Nice twist in the tail. I admit I thought that the PM was going to announce citizenship for robots (with taxable status) but I think that’s been done already.

    • DJ Cockburn says:

      Yes, I was trying to get away from the idea that the robots that put us out of work will have human sensibilities. They’ll just be very good at one thing, and they’ll be cheap. As you say, robot citizenship has been done before. Robots being admitted to the Bullingdon Club would be a new angle though…

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