A snap election being called in the UK has caused some to flap and flounder, grasping at any quick plan they possibly can in order to try and get a level of control over what is, at best, a really unexpected situation to be in. But not here at Kotaku – no, there’s an iron-clad plan in place on these shores: bring back Dransfield, and have him do that thing he did back in 2015 where he plays the election as if it were a football tournament on Pro Evolution Soccer. Flawless.
So here we are, once again trying to figure out just who will win the UK General Election in 2017, called a mere couple of months ago and – in the real world – filled with exciting twists and turns and awful repeated catchphrases. This time around I’ve opted to add two more parties into the tournament, with the Democratic Unionist Party and Plaid Cymru joining the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party, the United Kingdom Independence Party and the Scottish National Party.
Handily, that also brings things up to a nice, neat eight-team elimination format, even if PES 2017 now seems to have it in its blood that playing COM vs COM matches is something You Shouldn’t Do. Sigh. Regardless, we soldier on, playing every match in ‘coach’ mode and watching as the leaders I spent some time crafting and their teams I spent some time… umm… naming and doing their hair colours… battle it out. Don’t judge me, if I’d have made a real effort on every player that would have been 88 faces to edit in detail, and, really, the only person I got looking something like his real self was everybody’s favourite uncle, Jeremy Corbyn.
With some faces, all the hair, the names, teams, logos and kits all sorted, it was time to begin – a quarter final round, a semi final round, a third-place playoff (because we might need a coalition, of course) and a final-final round. A strong and stable tournament format.
QUARTER FINALS – Greens vs UKIP / DUP vs Labour / Conservatives vs Plaid Cymru / SNP vs Liberal Democrats
Our first match sees the eco-warriors of the Green Party facing off against the mad racists of UKIP. While the pound-sign-sporting Eurosceptics find a surprisingly creative force in the shape of their new captain Paul Nuttall out on the (recycled gag) right wing, it isn’t enough to overcome a surging, canny and smart team Green. Co-leader Caroline Lucas snatches it for the non-nasty side, rising above the bile and divisive rhetoric to head home the game’s only goal. The Greens, in truth, didn't deserve to win this one on the balance of play, but given they deserve to win morally it worked out alright.
Second up is Labour taking on Northern Ireland’s largest party, the DUP. It looks to be a whitewash, with the strength of Corbyn and co too much for the party across the (tiny) pond. Before long Labour are 2-0 up, with a lovely goal from Tom Watson giving their opposition something to be worried about. But pluckiness is the name of the game, and as if to show Sinn Fein what it’s missing out on the DUP launch something of a comeback in the latter half hour, pulling one goal back and rocking Labour on more than one occasion. But the reds hang on, and the Northern Irish are going home early.
The third encounter pits the Conservative Party against the mighty Welsh of Plaid Cymru. A straightforward, unspectacular 2-0 victory for the Tories sets out the blues’ stall for this election, and I expect to see similar as they casually steamroll their way to victory. Theresa May is notable by her absence. I mean, she’s on the pitch, but by god if the game isn’t dipping into real life by having her hardly touch the ball, ever.
And the quarter finals draw to a close with the SNP versus Tim Farron’s newly energised Liberal Democrats – Sturgeon’s fury of a nation scorned versus a ginger-ish northerner with big teeth, playing for a party everyone fell out with two years ago. A foregone conclusion like the Tories match this is not, however, and the Lib Dems bag a deserved early goal from a quick, decisive counter attack. Holding on for 81 minutes, possible supervillain Ming Campbell is called on repeatedly to keep the yellowy-oranges in it. Somehow, some way, old man Menzies does just that, and the Lib Dems advance.
SEMI-FINALS – Greens vs Labour / Conservatives vs Liberal Democrats
One step away from the final, Labour are riding on a wave of popular policies and surging public support. The Greens? Well, they have their principles, but they don’t have the bearded maestro of Corbyn holding together the middle of the field, Comrade Pass-a-lot. But wait! Uncharacteristic aggression from Lucas’s louts results in a 1-0 lead at half time and 67% of possession. A pep talk has the desired effect, though, and after 70 minutes the ever-reliable Tom Watson pulls it level – and there it stays.
Penalties come, and penalties go – and in this case they go very quickly indeed, as Labour misses its first two spot kicks. The Greens are in the final, and all Labour can do is hope for third place.
The other semi turns into a mini-ruckus, with the Lib Dems taking cues from the Greens playbook and channelling the aggression of a thousand drunken Sun readers. Rather than possession and shots, though, this translates to four bookings – including for a lovely slap in Michael Fallon’s face – and no action until right at the very death. 123 minutes into the match, ever the trooper, Paddy Ashdown seals his party’s spot in the final.
Both major parties have fallen, and as if Trident has somehow got involved, the tournament has been blown wide open.
THIRD PLACE PLAYOFF – Labour vs Conservatives
A formality, of course – nobody remembers who finishes third in these things – but in the world of politics, there’s always the maybe… maybe the winner will want to form a coalition government. Maybe third place would fit that bill nicely. Maybe Theresa May will finally come out from under the magic money tree and show us what she’s made of. But no, she needs not do anything, as Labour decides instead to put itself into a death spiral and have – literally – one shot all game. The Tories have a few more and manage to nick a goal after a woeful cock-up at the back involving, who else, Diane Abbott, and that’s that – the Conservatives secure third place in the UK General Election 2017.
FINAL – Greens vs Liberal Democrats
The big one – the granddaddy of them all… wait no that’s WrestleMania… no, this is just the final to decide who runs a country, it’s less important than wrestling. Anyway, I digress – my mind is wandering as it’s in shock from the fact that, indeed, the Greens and the Lib Dems are deciding things. The Greens’ aggression from the semis has disappeared almost entirely, and the brazen hippies are on the back foot from the first whistle. But, just like a plastic container in the middle of the ocean, Brighton’s heroes can’t be broken down. While Farron’s troops fight and fight and fight, it’s an impossible task against the pluckiest of plucky underdogs.
Oh, all of this was in the first eight minutes, by the way, because in the ninth minute Molly Scott Cato knocks one in off the rebound. From there it’s academic – Ashdown comes fairly close, but there’s little threat and little effort from the Lib Dems, even with lots of possession. Before I know it, the final whistle goes, the hemp-wearing Guardianistas go wild, and the UK General Election 2017 is won by… the Green Party? Crikey.
The surprise ending of all of this was exciting and caused a few yelps of surprise as it came to pass, with the plucky underdogs everyone loves but will never vote for coming out on top. All hail the Greens! Thus confirming this was absolutely in the realms of fantasy. But there you go – football isn’t politics, and first between the posts rather than first past the post seems like a much simpler way of sorting things.
Honestly, this whole tournament has been a bit of a disappointment because of two things: one, the lack of high scoring action – what I wouldn’t give to have seen UKIP battered… And two, the fact that the real world election is proving so interesting, distracting and – dare I say it – exciting. For the first time in my lifetime, it feels like there’s an actual choice between parties, rather than just battle lines drawn by tradition. PES has shown us one impossible outcome*; I’d recommend you get out there and vote on the 8th of June if you can to try and get the outcome you want to see.
Especially if it’s voting for Labour oh god I was so close to getting through this without making a partisan statement .
(*It’s impossible because of our voting system)
And here are your video highlights, if the gifs just aren’t doing it for you:
As with 2015, if you’re after a more politically serious take on the theme you can point yourself in the direction of the New Statesman , where games industry hero Dan Griliopoulos runs the party manifestos through election simulator Democracy 3.