Relieve the monotony of the election campaign in the last three days by participating in my free-to-enter game.
The rules are very simple: everybody picks 12 candidates from any political party and the object is to see which player can lose the greatest number of key marginals.
In your team of 12 candidates you must have at least one representative of a weird independent party, such as the Abolish Thursdays Alliance or the More Pedestrian Crossings in Kirkwall party. You must also have at least six women candidates and no more than seven Liberal Democrats.
Bonus points are awarded for gaffes. If, for example, one of your candidates forgets what he is supposed to think about university top-up fees, or publicly contradicts official party policy on, say, urban renewal schemes, you get three points. Score zero if anyone makes reference to Duffygate.
You can prompt a gaffe by playing your John Humphrys Killer Question card. This card causes your candidate to be tripped up in an embarrassing way on the Today programme. The Killer Question card may be played only three times.
In order to cancel out your opponents’ gaffe bonus points, you may choose to adopt the Full Confidence gambit, in which the party leader announces, on the record, that he has full confidence in the candidate who has made the gaffe.
The Full Confidence gambit cannot operate in a Fisticuffs Scenario (see below) and an expression of full confidence which is only off the record cancels out just one single gaffe point.
If your candidate makes a politically incorrect remark, you automatically double your gaffe bonus points. You are also allowed to call for a surprise inspection of a candidate’s wheelie bin in order to notch up bonuses for Hypocrisy over Recycling.
There is a 50-point super bonus if one of your candidates pulls off the magic treble – that is, recycling hypocrisy, sending children to private school and having links to a bizarre Right-wing American sect.
If more than five people in your team defect either to or from the Liberal Democrats you are disqualified. The only way you can get back in is if another player’s team of candidates is found to include a bigamist.
The judges will declare a Fisticuffs Scenario if a candidate punches another candidate, or, better still, a voter. While this scenario lasts, all points collected score double, so this is a good time to get rid of your low-scoring “I once smoked pot” cards.
The Fisticuffs Scenario lasts until the next Newsnight Row occurs. This requires at least a studio walk-out or a politician reducing Jeremy Paxman to tears, preferably both.
You can spend points on a political gamble. You can pay five points and try the Hustings Lucky Dip. You may get, “Tony Blair visits your local polyclinic; all other players lose 10 points.”
Or, maybe: “Three thousand of your postal votes mysteriously disappear; this cancels out all Liberal Democrat gaffes.” Or, “Osama bin Laden releases a video pledging support for the Green Party; go straight to Meltdown.”
A player may also claim Meltdown after three consecutive Shock Opinion Poll Findings. By calling “Meltdown”, he automatically quadruples the scores held by his loony independent candidates. And all candidates revealed to have gas-guzzling 4×4 vehicles qualify for an extra wheelie bin inspection.
On your entry form you will find a box in which you put down your guess for the number of times Alex Salmond will repeat his call for a head-to-head televised debate with the three main parties.
All those who guess right will receive an endorsement for their team from the Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik. This is beautifully inscribed on parchment-effect material and may be cashed in to claim 100 gaffe bonus points or to call for another Meltdown. It also comes with a Cheeky Girls CD.
The winner of the game will receive a magnificent peerage. And 300 runners-up have a chance to win a lovingly handcrafted replica of Gordon Brown’s moral compass.
Information on how to obtain entry forms will appear shortly.