Scene: The Today Programme.
Bob Danvers Walker: ?found the dog down the back of the sofa and Mr Cake pushed a wheelbarrow laden with scrap iron three miles while his grandmother was in the bath. That is the end of the news.
John Humphrys: Thank you, Bob. In today's edition, The Times (Tories accused of fiddling crime statistics, 3 February 2010) reports that the Satanic Party has been accused of inventing the crime statistics they used in their electioneering campaign. Here with me to discuss the issue is the Party's chief spin doctor and president for all Eternity, Satan.
Satan: (Talks like David Cameron) Good morning, John.
John Humphrys: Good morning, Your Infernal Majesty. Is this true? Because?
Satan: Please! Call me Luce.
John Humphrys: Is this true, Luce? You're claiming?
Satan: That's much better.
John Humphrys: You claim, in your encyclical to the constituencies, that in the last three weeks violent crime has rocketed by 35%, or even 50% in places.
Satan: Well, let's look at some undisputed facts that Central Office made up. (Rustles papers.) If you look at the serious crime of riding a bicycle without lights, for example, take the the notorious East Somerset constituency of Bulmers, three people were warned by police for riding without lights in 2009 on Buckfast Parkway alone, while in the last year of Satanic government there were only two. That's half as many again.
John Humphrys: The Labour Party says that crime was recorded in a different way at the time the Satanics left office, and the real figures would show a fall in violent crime, if they existed.
Satan: That is nonsense, complete and utter nonsense. Under the Satanics, crime was recorded by closed circuit television cameras, the same as now. Seeing is believing. And just look at some more of these undisputed facts. Allowing dogs to foul the pavement is up 2%. Graffiti is up 2%. That means those crimes are being committed, by criminals, twice as often as they were when we were in office.
Marcus du Sautoy: No, it doesn't.
Satan: Well, then, I'll take another example. Let's consider putting your dustbin out on the wrong day. In Edinburgh Deuchars constituency the number of people fined for putting their dustbin out on the wrong day has gone up from, oh, I don't know, not very many to lots and lots. These figures are an appalling indictment of the Labour government.
John Humphrys: Many people might say that they're worried about being shot or stabbed, but nobody's really worried about their neighbours putting the bins out on the wrong day, are they?
Satan: Crime is rising overall, but violent crime is such a small proportion of all crime that the only way to get representative data is to ignore the facts altogether and just make up figures that lend support to our arguments. The point is, John, we live in a broken society, and we all know what that means.
John Humphrys: I don't, unless it means a tiny handful of people ride bicycles without lights and put their dustbins out on the wrong day.
Satan: When we discuss a broken society, we have to remember that there's no such thing as society, but there definitely is such a thing as a broken society.
John Humphrys: But surely you can't say that the whole of society is broken just because three people in Bulmers put their bins out on the wrong day?
Satan: No, but high crime rates are the sign that society is broken. In an unbroken society there wouldn't be any crime, except for Members of Parliament committing fraud and embezzlement. If the number of people beaten to death with pick axe handles in their own homes were to rise to eight billion a week, you'd be justified in worrying that society was broken, wouldn't you?
John Humphrys: No. Not if I didn't know what it meant.
Satan: I'm talking about a gradual crumbling of civilisation. At the moment you might say, well, it doesn't matter all that much because I haven't ridden a bicycle without lights and I haven't put my bin out on the wrong day and I haven't been robbed or shot or stabbed or had my nose pulled off with a pair of pliers. What I have said in the encyclical is that the number of murders in Grantham might increase to five million a week, and if it were to do so, that would be a cause for grave concern.
John Humphrys: What's so special about five million? What about five million and one?
Satan: No, that's completely impossible.
Carole Vorderman: If you add the three to the five, multiply by the seven and then add the 4,999,945, you can get to 5,000,001.
Audience cheers wildly.
John Humphrys: But five million is impossible too. There aren't five million people in Grantham.
Satan: There might be a pop concert that attracted five million people to Grantham and somebody might kill them all.
John Humphrys: Especially someone who wanted to get some sleep, I imagine.
John Humphrys: These figures you're citing are all made up, aren't they?
Satan: Not at all, John. They are illustrative data, created to give a vivid picture of what might happen if the malaise in our society spreads from an occasional isolated incident and becomes a nationwide conflagration.
John Humphrys: They're plucked from the air.
Satan: They are the product of a time consuming predictive analysis based on a raft of plausible assumptions such as, er? we want people to vote for us.
John Humphrys: They have no basis in reality.
Satan: They are worst case scenarios, certainly.
John Humphrys: They're pulled out of a hat.
Satan: No, John, I only brought the hat because otherwise I wouldn't have anything to talk through.
Carole Vorderman: Neither would I. Eat lorry loads of margarine. It's good for you.