13 February 2013

Thinking Paper #224: Page 3 girls: crumpet or dump it?

Abstract

Roped in by a bit of skirt? I'll have you know that the IIPBA doesn't deal in breast. Never will. Nay, I wish to talk to you today about Civil Service reform. There's been rather a lot of chat about it recently: telegrams from California courtesy of Hilton the Foot; select committee appearances by Sir Jeremy "no these are not 1940s Japanese military issue spectacles" Heywood; television debuts for Franny Maude. Eceteros.


So what's going on Golightly?

Thanks for asking. Each new government tries to reform the civil service to make it more "streamlined", "dovetailing" it with private sector "efficiency"; erm, etc. Like a girl they wish to defile, they shower the civil service with praise and tell them how pretty and efficient their eyes are. Remember Dave? (www.number10.gov.uk/news/pms-speech-at-civil-service-live/)? And then the relationship turns sour. DVD box sets of an evening don't quite cut it. Someone puts on weight. They turn on the one they once loved and admired. They say the bowler hatted ones aren't quick enough. The bowler hats not as round as they used to be. Or dynamic for that matter. How dare you Francis Maude? They accuse them of impartiality. Of not knowing their semi-colons from their interjections. Of drinking too much tea. Spending the day reading the remainder of the internet. Of keeping that chap Guido Fawkes in 'hits-per-day'. They get angry when no one picks up the phone after 5 o'clock. The list goes on dear reader. The humble civil servant is slandered and duly tried, judged and executed by Daily Mail led mob justice. But what is the truth? Need they be reformed, those naughty bunch. Or is it a hopeless cause?

What would a cynic say?

A struggling government tends to blame the officials responsible for delivering policy (what policy?) and then they issue a reforming bill that doesn't really mean anything tangible. Maggie tried it, Major didn't (wise chap), Blair dipped his toe in and realised he couldn't give enough of a shit, and Brown didn't have time between his paranoid rages. Truth is, the service might need a little tinkering: professionalise this, social media that etc. But let's not avoid the great big bald patch in the room (have you seen Dave's recently?), namely that no one gets a Cabinet promotion or a prime ministerial legacy for reforming the civil service. Reform isn't hampered by a proliferation of tea bags or a lack of HMG Twitter accounts. No... read on.

Concluding comments

A rival think-tank, Reform, recently published a paper on Whitehall reform. Buried within the list of quotes from interviews was this little gem from a coalition minister. This IIPBA co-director knew that he need not read further, the anonymous Minister had nailed it.

"The efficient running of a government department has no bearing on career prospects. The Minister is interested in the media, how they do in Parliament, the next reshuffle (read: promotion). The stuff around making a department run properly is long term, there's no political upside".

This reporter is off to make a cup of tea.

P.s. page 3 is outdated. As a boy, the young RFG, accompanied by other local raggermuffins, would try and get his hands on The Sun newspaper from the local paper bank so as to catch a glimpse of a nipple. One of his smaller friends happened to be able to squeeze through the gap into said bank and pass out said papers to his larger friends. The modern day raggamuffin has mobile internet with 7000GB of data per month. Nuff said.

12 February 2013

Thinking Paper #223 - Is our food industry institutionally racist?

By Jacinta Burrow

Abstract

The IIPBA will not be deterred by a trifling Papal resignation from asking the question which really matters: is our food industry institutionally racist? Oh yes. We went there. And may the National Beef Association have mercy on our immortal souls 

Horse Meat: A response to the neeeiiigggghhhh-sayers

We've been shovelling down excrement and sawdust (sausages) for years, but a little bit of horse gets into a Findus lasagne and suddenly it's an "extensive" criminal conspiracy. How comes?

Our odd-toed ungulate friends are sweeter-tasting than their bovine cousins, and their flesh seems mercifully to be one of the few meats which no one has so far compared to chicken. But it's all Morag The Cow this and the La Vache Qui Rit that. Our obsession with steak has reached fetishistic proportions.

Well, no more. It's time to say "whoa" to this cattle cartel.

Horses deserve an equal place in our food industry. They deserve to be set on fire by irate French farmers at the Calais ferry terminal. They deserve to be rammed down the unsuspecting throat of a Cabinet Minister's four year old daughter on live tele. And they deserve the chance to put consumers into a Persistent Vegetative State as a result of being fed on their own kind.

Horsemeat has done wonders for the French (?).

Recommendations
  • DEFRA to undertake an economic impact study of widening consumption of "beef" products to our Hindu brothers and sisters.
  • David Cameron to signal his support for the Strivers in the 3:20pm at Kempton by making the racing selections on the Today Programme on at least every third Wednesday.
  • The 2013 Grand National to be run entirely by Herefords and those cows with horns and long wavy coats.
  • Princess Anne to be appointed head of a new Commission for Equine Equality with sweeping powers, including excessive use of the whip at the Canal Turn.
  • 14 Equ-ality Commissioners, including Lester Piggott and Neptune Collonges, to address invited audiences on subjects including "Flat Racers and Steeplechasers: Sleepwalking to Segregation?" and "Shergar In Memoriam".
  • The Equ-ality Commission to be wound up after a Telegraph investigation reveals 8 of its members were, in fact, sired from the same mare.

11 February 2013

Thinking Paper #222 - Tony for Pope

Abstract

The Pope has resigned, leaving only one man with the qualities needed to replace him. The IIPBA has long thought him the best man for the job, not least because Ron Ford Golightly has had an outside bet on him to take on the Holy See since he converted.

Step forward Pope Tony I.

Thinking points

 Why should Tony Blair be the next Pope? We offer some reasons:

  • Tony knows how to use religion to raise money. He is already the head of a Faith Foundation which the Telegraph claims has raised millions, £320,000 of which came through a Russian Oligarch. This could give the Catholic Church some new funding streams, and if not, the Mail claims he has friends with other ways of raising cash.
  • Tony is a moderniser, which is what the Catholic church needs. He has already made his relaxed views on homosexuality in the Catholic Church clear, paving the way for Cardinal Mandy, who would be a fine Papal Enforcer and would look very pretty in the hat and frock. 
  • Tony would have no need of Papal Infallibility as he is always right about everything, and wouldn't have Gordon to ruin it this time.
  • Uncle Sylvio is scheduled for a return and this could lead to some amazing Papal Banquets. We're thinking Noel Gallagher, Prince Andrew, Oleg Deripaska, Saif Gaddafi and some Bunga Bunga.
  • Tony was made for autocracy, and the only real reason he ever fails is voters. We are sorry Tony.

Conclusion

It has to be Tony, though we do have concerns about what the abolition of Vatican Clause 4 might mean for the land and property owned by the church.

9 February 2013

Thinking Paper #221: Will upgrading the A47 trunk road help Great Britain win the "global race"?

By R. Ford Golightly

On Thursday 7 February (probably around the time you were tucking into your Findus microwaveable Lasagne for one in front of the HD stupid box) "Norfolk's leading parliamentarian", George Freeman (Mid Norfolk - Conservative), was leading a debate in the House of Commons on the proposed upgrade and dualling of the A47 trunk road. History was being made Great people of Britain.*


"The A47 is a strategic route of national and regional importance to the East Anglian and Norfolk economies", Mr Freeman began. Hear-hear. In no particular order, the praise spurted forth in a tsunami of transport related terminology: former Foreign Office man in Africa, Henry Bellingham, led the congratulations, reserving specific praise for the progress made on the "middleton crossing" ; Chloe "The Iron Lady" Smith took time out from doing the jobs that Oliver Letwin and Francis Maude don't want to do in the Cabinet Office to stress the importance of the debate via a post it note passed down the line to Mr Freeman; and Richard Bacon (no not that one) emphasised the importance of dualling not just the "section of the A47 that is immediately to the north of my constituents, in both the east and the west" but the whole 105 miles of the bloody road! Ba-con, Ba-con, Ba-con.

As if the baying mob of Norfolk based MPs needed any more encouragement, Freeman then threw in a handful of Gordon Brown-esque numbers for good measure. The investment, we were assured, could create £800 million pounds worth of new jobs for local people with Latvian accents; 75 percentage points of regional economic growth in this spending review period alone; and a 30 minute cut to each car journey time resulting in "thousands of saved hours" per person per annum. To do what I hear you ask? To get home from work a little bit earlier you impetuous little rabbit. And if that wasn't enough, in his concluding comments, Freeman opted for a bit of heart inspired metaphoring - investment would "unclogg the artery of Norfolk" he chimed to appreciative roars from the Public Gallery. Positively Churchillian.

In his underwhelming response, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Stephen Hammond) reassured us that "the paucity of people in the Public Gallery had nothing to do with the power of his case" (it was actually quite full Steve) before going on to use approximately 1,386 words to bash the opposition (who weren't actually at the debate), list largely irrelevant numbers unrelated to the issue and do everything to try and kick the A47 trunk road into the long grass / kick the can down the road, whichever you prefer. Probably pending a review, something like that.

Editors note: We're never going to win the global race with long eared, short tailed little Rabbits like Hammond at the steering wheel.

Concluding comments

As Michael Gove stole the headlines with his stupid face, true changes were afoot in the House of Commons under the watchful guise of a rather heaving public gallery.

The BRIC nations may not have heard of the A47 trunk road, but boy will they wish they had once this Government makes the decision to "unclog the artery" of change in Nelson's Land of Stars.

* I must declare an interest. The Golightly family are inextricably linked to the county of Norfolk through family breeding and heritage. I therefore come to the debate with a strong bias for investment in this most valuable trunk road that has served the Golightly dynasty so well.

19 January 2013

Thinking Paper # 220: Is snow good for the economy?

By Tim Massingberd-James

Abstract

The UK is once again in the grip of snow-mageddon, giving the country's journalists a lovely opportunity to talk to nice old ladies about whether they're having any trouble getting about, interview young families about their sledging expeditions to 'dead-man's-hill' and tell us about how red warnings are 'the worst' type of weather warnings. But will it help us win the money war against the Chinamen?
Who cares about the economy when everything is all pretty?

Artists are generally the people who report beauty in the world, whilst journalists look at death, hatred and violence. Journalists are traditionally out to achieve success of the sort which will allow them to interview the Prime Minister on Sunday mornings and touch girls bums, whilst artists - with the exception of ones like Damien Hirst - want to die in a garret but be rememberd for their brilliance.

Snow is like an artist, suddenly creating beauty from nothing then quickly melting away to leave only the memories of its spectacular brilliance. Journalists may not get paid much any more, but they are good for the traditional economy, creating fear and hatred of the sort that makes us panic-buy bread, think we need to buy a new coat and imagine our presence at our pitiful job is of enough worth to warrant the struggle in. Artists occasionally make us sit back and enjoy life and realise there is more to life than that struggle.  

Is snow good for the Economy?

Snow is not really good for the economy, but the IIPBA sometimes hopes we may be moving into a part of the story of humanity based just a tiny more on how much love and beauty there is in our lives, rather  than how much we can spend on our new sofa at Ikea on a Saturday. 

Today, across the country, families are spending time together running up and down hills and enjoying an experience that will be etched on the consciousnesses of children for the rest of their lives, rather than sitting staring at screens eating biscuits. Snow is not good for the economy, but some of the most important things aren't.

26 January 2012

Thinking Paper # 219: Government by Product Placement

By Jacinta Burrow

Abstract

Last year, Nick Clegg told The Sun that he wanted to help “Alarm Clock Britain”. Now he’s calling for a “John Lewis economy”. The IIPBA can’t help but notice that John Lewis sells alarm clocks. What is going on? We investigate.

Shops and economies: are they the same?

We at the IIPBA love a bit of Brett Easton-Ellis, but if policy announcements are going to start resembling wry sideways looks at the zeitgeist where will it all end? Is George Osborne going to start telling us where he bought his red box and whether or not it’s available in other colours?

The IIPBA has charted Call-Me-Dave’s devotion to canned Guinness, Eric Pickles’ Greggs habit and Cheryl Gillan’s weakness for velour leisurewear. But now the Clegg-ulator has taken that nod-nod-wink-wink approach and slapped it all over his autocue. What does a “John Lewis economy” even mean? He wants us to run our finances based on a high street shop instead of, you know, like a national economy. But apparently he can do you a lovely deal on a couple of touch screen radio controlled alarm clocks.

Conclusion

The IIPBA thanks its lucky stars that Nick Clegg doesn’t shop much in Primark. We’ll never get out of this recession with queues for the changing rooms like that.

25 January 2012

Thinking Paper # 218: The art of coincidence: A study

Abstract
 
The IIPBA laughed today as it read that a government press spokesperson had labelled as "pure coincidence" the fact that Ministers had bought twice as many tickets for beach volleyball this summer than athletics.  Pure coincidence?  The IIPBA investigates.
 

The facts as they stand
 
1. Women's beach volleyball is played by women.  They tend to be pretty, tanned, athletic and wear very little in way of actual clothes.  In hot climates volleyball players like to grease themselves up with sun tan lotion (see Top Gun volleyball scene).
 
2. If we take haircuts as a lead, 80% of the current Cabinet members have penises.  These people tend to be heterosexual, middle aged and married.  If we were to take a leap of faith, we might argue that these men enjoy watching young athletic women greased up with lotion playing in the sand.  And we might therefore conclude that they would jump at the opportunity to do so if they thought that it could be carefully disguised* as watching sport.
 
Concluding comments
 
Men enjoy watching the aforementioned type of woman play in sand, greased up in sun tan lotion. 
 
The IIPBA doesn't mind this, as long as Oliver Letwin, who's office sits conveniently overlooking the beach volleyball arena, doesn't ignore the grand vision that is the post bureaucratic age.  We're still watching you Letwin.
 
*By carefully disguised we mean not very carefully disguised.  Beach volleyball isn't even a proper sport.