1 August 2011

Thinking Paper #39 - Which institutions should we “love”?

By Jacinta Burrow


“Could Britain love the welfare state as much as the NHS?”, asks James Purnell, the flip-flop-wearing ex-Cabinet hottie.

Well, could it? As an experiment, consider if any of the following has ever crossed your lips. Or your mind:
  • I’ve had it with everyone dissing the Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman. Ann Abraham’s doing the best she can with limited resources, OK? Cut the girl some slack.
  • I would cheerfully LICK THE FACE of whoever runs my local Integrated Sustainability and Diversity Inspectorate
  • TV Licensing is not staffed entirely by professional sadists and its operatives are in no way engaged in an all-encompassing mission to fuck me over. The tone of its letters is not intended to make me feel that accidentally forgetting to renew my direct debit is a crime akin to kiddie-fiddling.
Do you see? We reserve love for actual people we actually know and particularly uncompetitive games of tennis. We rather like our institutions to be faceless, bureaucratic numpties on which we can blame everything that’s going wrong with the world.

Concluding remarks

No one loves politicians, the police or the Gentlemen of the Press anymore. And no one has ever liked traffic wardens or estate agents. Or dentists. But, like George Michael, we gotta have faith (in something). Here are some suggestions:
  • The Royal Family. Apart from Wills and Kate, everyone loves Big Phil. He’s the Berlusconi it’s safe to like.
  • Firemen. Yummy.
  • Cadbury’s is an institution. It invented the Flake and the Curly Wurly, made that advert with the gorilla playing the drum intro to Phil Collins’ In The Air Tonight and has never pushed baby formula on vulnerable mothers in the Third World. Skipping over its sale to evil Kraft, it also has a factory in lovely Bournville.

So that settles it. Let’s all just love chocolate. It’s never let you down. And it’s a better idea than Purnell’s faith in “Beverage” to sort everything out. Does he really think a proliferation of lemonade-stalls is going to restore Britain to its imperial greatness?

Thank God the IIPBA came along when it did.

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