Scene – Mrs May's personal office. Mrs May is present, alone, and reading a biography of Mrs Thatcher.
Enter, senior election adviser (SEA)
SEA: Mrs May, if I might borrow a moment of your time. I need to talk to you about social care.
MAY: [Snaps her book shut and puts it on the table.] Is it really important?
SEA: [Pause] Yes. One could say so.
MAY: Shoot then.
SEA: Right. What do you know about sandwich carers?
MAY: Sandwich carers? [Bursts into laughter.] Sandwich carers! What, women who care for sandwiches?
SEA: Can we try to pretend we're not sexist?
MAY: But the reality...
SEA: Yes, I understand the reality, but what have we said about reality?
SEA: Come on now! You need to get this. Reality...
MAY: Reality... can't...
MAY: Reality doesn't... win elections!'
SEA: Very good!
MAY: Yes! [Air punches.]
SEA: All right, let’s go back a bit, what do you know about the current societal state of the country?
MAY: I think grammar schools are a good idea.
SEA: We'll go slowly then. You know back in the olden days, before there needed to be two employed wage-earners in a household...
MAY: Oh, happy days! We really should go back to those days!
SEA: I do think we need to accept that working women are good for the economy. Present company excepted. What I'm saying is, suddenly two adults in the household needed to work to make ends meet, so more women entered the workplace.
MAY: You just said that's a good thing!
SEA: It's a great thing! It just changes society. Remember about women working...?
MAY: Oh, I remember this one! [Chanting by rote] More women work, but they're still not paid or treated fairly, and often have to take menial or low-paid jobs, or ones where they have to be flexible or part-time to accommodate childcare, because, in the collective psychology, male workers are still considered more valuable than female ones, which becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy when women are hindered in the workplace because of the above. Phew!
SEA: Well done, Prime Minister! Just, don't say any of that outside this room, OK?
MAY: Because reality doesn't win elections!
SEA: Indeed. And now we want to make it just a little bit worse for those women.
SEA: Yes. Here is what happened. As a response to this new social situation, women started to have their babies later, so that they could attempt to establish a career first. Because parents became older, grandparents became older. Because people often moved away for work, families no longer live in the same street and can't easily keep an eye on one another. So, they need us to help support them while they, in return, support the economy.
MAY: Wait, I thought it was lazy, sit-at-home people who we're supposed to supporting. You know, what are they called... what are they... Oh yes! Poor, sick, disabled, elderly, disadvantaged people!
SEA: We're the government. We should be supporting everybody. That's our job!
[Long pause, then laughter all round.]
SEA: The thing is, because grandparents are older, we now have an extra generation who need care and support. So, the person...
SEA: Yes, but we really do have to pretend that this isn't a sexist thing. That person is a sandwich carer. The person in the middle generation is trying to work, progress through their career, raise their children, and care for their elderly relative all at the same time.
MAY: Those people are screwed, aren't they?
SEA: Yes. And we weighed it up very carefully, and decided that because those people are already screwed, things getting a bit worse won't feel as bad as it might for say... a large corporation having to pay fair and just tax for the first time ever.
MAY: Oh yes!
SEA: So, what we propose is this. You know how people are entitled to take a year off after the birth of their child, causing their career to stagnate while other workers progress...
MAY: The men.
SEA: Try not to keep saying that. Anyhow, we extend that so that they can also take a year off to take care of their elderly parents.
MAY: That doesn't seem too bad! Will we give them something equivalent to maternity pay?
MAY: Huh. OK. That's...
SEA: Not fair, however, we have an additional solution.
MAY: Let's have it.
SEA: Everyone who owns property or assets over £100,000 will have to pay for any social care that's not provided for free by their family.
MAY: OK, so... what are we saying here?
SEA: People who have worked and saved for their entire lives to provide a reasonable estate for their children when they die, will no longer have a reasonable estate when they die.
MAY: But that's not fair!
SEA: Well, obviously, because people with £100,001 will feel it more than, someone with £1,000,001. But it still might actually be the fairest thing we've ever done.
MAY: No! I don't mean for them! I mean for me! The Grey Voter might not vote for me anymore!
SEA: Yes, but you'll gather the racist... no, sorry, I meant the UKIP voters, and everyone else who wants Johnny Foreigner to leave, and those voters who still believe that the NHS will be given piles of European money.
MAY: They still exist?
SEA: In for a penny, in for a non-existent pound, and all that.
MAY: OK. So, let's see if I get this whole sandwich carers thing right.
SEA: Go on.
MAY: Women are already disadvantaged in the workplace for a whole heap of reasons, and because they’re disadvantage in the workplace, they tend to be the one taking parental leave.
MAY: And then, just when they've returned from that and moving upward again, they're required to take another, year-long break, for which they'll receive zero financial help...
SEA: To be fair, we'll give them £62.70 a week.
MAY: For which they're expected to do gruelling, specialist work...
SEA: Vital work, where they have to ensure their parents get meals every day, organise their medication, sometimes assist them to the toilet or the bath, make sure all medical appointments are attended, be on-call 24 hours a day in case of emergencies like falls, or their parent with dementia wandering off.
MAY: And they're doing all this while simultaneously being on-call for their children who might need taking care of while they're sick, or might want a parent to attend an assembly, or might also need additional care with disabilities or special needs...
MAY: And who might have been relying on some inheritance so that they can afford to take that year off with no salary. And the grandparents who might have been able to help pay the tens of thousands pounds it costs to put the children through university, and they might want to help their children buy homes which really aren't affordable, now can't do that.
MAY: And this will lead to a strong and stable economy?
SEA: What do we say about reality?
MAY: Because Brexit isn't going to screw the economy big time?
SEA: But what do we say about reality?
MAY: So, remind me again who benefits from all of this?
SEA: The Conservative party, big business and the rich.
MAY: Ah. Yes. OK then, let's screw the women.