31 October 2011

Thinking Paper # 180: #timeforplanB


For crying out loud, this think-tank intern is getting really tired of talk of plan B.  What on earth do you think Nick Clegg re-announced today and originally announced a couple of months ago?  An FDR style new deal, a Gordon Brown style plan to Build Britain's Future, whatever you want to call it, Cameron and Cleggs "chuck loads of money at developing infrastructure" is the same in all but name.  The IIPBA gets frustrated.

The Gordon Brown tribute band

For all of his negative traits, Gordon Brown was well good at chucking hundreds of billions of "taxpayers" money (cue angry mutterings) at national projects to get the economy moving and to create jobs.  Nick Clegg and David Cameron both called him a "silly old sausage" but have then just gone and re-announced similar pledges from the Brown era - namely kickstarting infrastrucutre projects to get the economy moving.

Concluding comments

David Cameron is said to be "straining every sinew" to create growth and jobs.  An image of him on the toilet comes to mind. But no, it's £1bn on 100 projects.  Why 100?   I hear you sister Jacinta.


Thinking Paper # 179: Prince Charles shock scandal scandal shock

Prince Charles, the Secretary of State for landowners, has allegedly been given the right to veto legislation that might have an impact on his private interests, namely relating to his ownership of Cornwall.  Some people are calling it a "nuclear button" (?), others are angry.  The IIPBA investigates.


Who is Charlie Boy?

He is the Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Chester, Earl of Carrick, Baron Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, Prince and Great Steward of Scotland.

He is probably most famous for calling Nicholas Witchell an "awful man". 

The IIPBA's POV

I wish that I was directly consulted on legislation impacting on my private interests.  I'd probably try and get the local council to fix my hallway light.  I might also get them to trim the tree in the back garden, it's a willow tree you see and the roots are quite pervasive. That is all.

Concluding comments

Charlie's people are saying that he needs this level of involvement because he might one day be King. Ha. Prince William and Kate are far prettier and likeable.

Thinking Paper #178: Should economists stop writing letters to newspapers?

By Jacinta Burrow

Abstract

In yesterday’s Observer, 100 economists told George Osborne in a letter that his Plan A for getting the economy back on track is a total crock of shit. Setting aside the fact that the IIPBA has swallowed unquestioningly the Chancellor’s rhetoric that Britain is a “safe haven” (loving your work, Mr O), it has come to our attention that you can find 100 economists to back more or less anything.



Background

There were 100 economists for John McCain and but they were no match for Messrs Hope and Change. A centurion-guard of abacus-fiddlers backed Gordon Brown’s approach to handling Britain’s deficit. And look how well that turned out. In June 2010, 100 economists told President Obama to cut spending to boost private sector job creation (“100 doctors advise President to breathe oxygen”). 100 Italian economists wrote a letter in June 2010 denouncing austerity and claiming it will “destroy Europe”. Yeah! Spend, spend, spend. Pass the parmigiano.

Why 100?

We know full well that it has actually taken one economist to write the letter, a couple of others to suggest amendments, track their changes and email back a corrected copy, and 97 others to sign their names without really reading the letter because they know that they’re not famous enough to be included in the version the newspaper actually prints. 100 has a nice round ring to it (100 pennies in the pound, 100 years in a century, 100 new wrinkles on Nick Clegg’s face every week) even in an economic climate where we’ve taken to measuring everything in billion-trillion-gazillions.

Conclusion

We’re all a little bit scared by the world at the moment and a “100 EXPERTS” headline reassures us that somebody, somewhere knows what the hell is going on. But you can find 100 people who think that we never landed on the moon, or that Jeremy Clarkson should be Prime Minister, or that Ed Miliband is not a complete and utter waste of space. 100 people saying something doesn’t make it true.

29 October 2011

Saturday Poem #2: Foxy/ Knoxy

Oh what became of Amanda Knox?
Who with her cartwheels, lit the fire
That set alight, the paper talk
And cast her, heaving, on the pyre

She groaned, and moaned
And for a while, the court, she owned
But twas not she who did the deed
All she ever did was weed

And what became of our Liam Fox?
A tragic man, more right than right
His job, his life, his power gone
But he’ll be back, he’s got some fight!

He rose, then fell
And now he sits, in backbench Hell
But some say he was hunted down
Just like mere prey? Or nay, a clown?

Oh what became of Fox and Knox?
Their stars shone out from modern stocks
While Liam’s dies, hers does rise
And all because of lies, damn lies?

But in this world of shattered dreams
Where nothing’s ever as it seems
What odds a treat on the Holy Box
On Channel 4: ‘When Fox Met Knox?’

By Samuel Stopp, Co-Editor of The Starr Blog

Saturday Poem #1: Ode to Ken

Ken, Ken
You are our friend
In the political realm
You’re one that makes sense

One of the select few
I’m glad we elect (ed) you
To stick in the boot
At that silly twat Theresa May
Phew.

By Roger Daring

28 October 2011

Thinking Paper #177: Royal does as Royal says as Royal does‏

By Ron Ford Golightly

Abstract

What? Correct. Prince David Cameron III of Heffinborough has made a statement about Royal succession: (a) because it's Friday (b) because he had some time to kill on his way to Australia to see Jody Foster and (c) because he wants to talk about anything other than Europe.


David "the Ham" Cam has "struck" a "deal" "today" to "abolish" a 300 year old ruling that means the eldest daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Airlines could not be crowned Queen if she or he or it had a younger brother, sister, cousin, something, limited gene pool etc.

Concluding comments

Someone once fought for a piece of land and some riches and won. They were called a King. Some time later descendents of this person still own the land and money and the houses and the gravel filled driveways, but they don't want to fight over the land now because it's in their name. Or something. And then they'll do some charity work and everything will be ok.

We think that we support this move.

Friday Thinking Points

With Ron Ford Golightly and Tim Massingberd James

Thank Jesus Christ it's Friday. Some thoughts from the IIPBA to take you into the weekend:
  • How much longer can Steve "The Rasputin" Hilton carry on being ever so slightly delusional? Jeremy Heywood is said to favour the old "roll him up into a carpet and throw him into the Moskva" strategy following yet another week in which Hilton bemoaned the "uncreative" and "inefficient" bureaucrats of Whitehall. It's the freaking Civil Service you moron.

  • China now owns all of Europe, and we must worship Wen Jiabao
  • Wee Douglas Alexander, attack dog, shadow regular airport visitor and all round small man, turned 44 years old this week. Happy birthday Dougie.
  • No one but no one is surprised to hear that John Prescott likes food, and can eat a lot of it. You should see him eating a full english. Horrific.
  • Nicholas Sarkozy will no longer look David Cameron in the eye when shaking his hand, and would prefer not to shake it at all, complaining it "smells of ham".
  • Amongst other things, the media managed to get people really scared for 5 minutes about the world population reaching 7 billion before the years out. The IIPBA is pretty relaxed about the "Malthusian" scaremongerers given the fact that we seem to be coping reasonably well at the moment with 6.9 billion people.
  • Nigel Farage is an idiot.
  • Europe, Europe, Europe, Europe. Europe. Merkel. War with Germany. And £1.4 trillion squid or something.

Thinking Paper #176 - Is Tony worth £169,076 a year, and what do we get for our money?

Abstract

New figures from the mouth of Francis Maude show that Big Tony claimed loadsa cash since leaving office, just for being awesome. But is he worth it?




Is Tony worth £169,076 a year?

Tony Blair has claimed £273,000 on the taxpayer since Gordon elbowed him out, ostensibly for work including answering letters and attending public events. Until the IIPBA heard the news, released in a Parliamentary Question to a weird looking man called Philip Hollobone, we didn't even know Tony responded to letters. We wonder if he might like a place on the IIPBA advisory board? Action Ron.

But, really, is the £169,076 Tony claimed in 2008-9 such a bad thing, if you consider that without it we might not get to see his tanned face in appearances at memorial services, and occasional nostalgic talking head spots on telly?

It won't be a surprise to regular readers that the IIPBA misses Tony, and we're glad we can give something back to him. He would've been so disappointed when he wasn't made President of Europe, and a maximum of 0.3p per per person per year hopefully goes some way towards telling him how awesome he is. We hope there is also a Mandelson Fund.

Conclusion

Yes, he's definitely worth it. We get his smile, the warm feeling he gives us inside, and the hope that he remembers who we are when he's hanging out with all his new friends. Without the Tony Fund, all we'd have would be standing in Connaught Square indefinitely, peering into cars with tinted windows as they zoom past.

27 October 2011

Thinking Paper #175 - Aren't most people five times the drink-drive limit?

By Tim Massingberd James

Abstract

As news emerges that Amy Winehouse was more than five times the drink-drive limit at the time of her death, the IIPBA asks if this applies to most people, most of the time.

Aren't most people five times the drink-drive limit?

Poor Amy Winehouse was apparently drunk when she killed herself, but as the IIPBA spends most of our days waiting for our next drink, we really wonder why the news acts like this was a surprise.

The more the IIPBA sees of the world, the more it wants to spend most of its time five times over the drink drive limit, and we don't blame poor Amy for having a few drinks as an escape. That time she spent in the Caribbean sounded lovely, but we don't actually remember how long it went on for.

Over at the BBC, the reporters say that St Pancras coroner Suzanne Greenway has said the "unintended consequence" of Winehouse drinking so much alcohol was her "sudden and unexpected death", but we think "unexpected" is pushing it a bit. We all had a fair idea where she was heading, and perhaps she just didn't care.

Conclusion

The IIPBA refuses to come to a conclusion as the result would probably be spectacularly bleak.

26 October 2011

Thinking Paper # 174: Good news China - the kids are alright

By Roniford Golightly

Just one day after the IIPBA warned that we aren't getting into enough debt to finance China's ascent to world domination, our children have come to the rescue. Kind of.  That "media" has it today that children as young as 5 have been running up gambling debts playing games of marbles in the street, with some resorting to stealing to pay them off.


What the rozzers had to say

Police Community Support Officer, Daniel Twitterati Blogosphere Jr, told the Nottingham Star that "Historically this game would involve winning each other's marbles - but it has come to our attention more and more children are playing each other for money, credit cards, greenbacks, widescreen TVs, small plastic trees that smell Alpine fresh and this years must have toy from China".

What the IIPBA has to say

The IIPBA commends this pursuit of pointless materialism in today's youth.  When asked what he wanted to do when he grew up, Little Jimmy Cartwright from the flats said "Take out credit cards so that I can spend thousands of pounds that I don't have on shit that I don't need in order to keep the great manufacturing nations of this fine world going".  Good for you Jimmy. 

Rest easy China

Thinking paper #173: Predicting future political careers through current social media output

By Charlie Umtali

Abstract

Umpteen thousands of recently-minted Social Media Consultants have in recent years been giving us all the hard sell on how important it is to refine and defend ones online persona. This is particularly important for our aspiring politicians of the future, and we at the IIPBA have a few top tips for spotting whether you are digitally limber enough for a steady ascent of the UK's greasiest pole.


Party Prattlings
  • Do you find yourself live-tweeting PMQs, retweeting nearly every bland Cameroneon utterance with a raucously supportive slapping of the nearest solid surface and an exhaltory vocalisation of "Sound!", which in the process of doing so spills Gin and Tonic over your Carlton Club membership? Congratulations, you are well on the way to being a future member of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition. Please consult your local Conservative Association (if one even exists within a reasonable radius of your home).
  • Do you find that most of your Facebook friends are in fact people you met at various protest marches, sit-ins, and other "Yeah man, we're, like, sticking it to the Tory scum" events, rather than actual family and people you choose to associate with? If so, you're well on the way to meeting the requirements of a massed Labour canvassing campaign for your local Council, with you as the shiny smiling face on the leaflets.
  • Do you find yourself posting snippets of Mark Pack's Liberal Democrat Voice mailout to your blog? A hearty slap on the shoulder for you, you are Mark Pack.

Conclusion

If anything, social media permits a true realising of a core tenet of the Post Buerucratic Age, that of "The Government that governs best is the government that leaves it to people to govern themselves, but then still takes all the credit". By portraying their online personas as painfully predictable characters fighting the battles of thirty years ago, come the night of losing their electoral virginity they might find that their tweets, statuses and harmless cyber banter, might bite them on their "glad we got degrees while tuition fees were low" credentials.

25 October 2011

Thinking Paper #172: Support the Chinese‏

By Ron Ford Golightly

Abstract

The EU-China Business Summit assembles today in one of those super-duper-mega cities on the eastern seaboard of China. Industrial leaders, politicians, bee keepers and professional bullshitters will be attending, oh and Wen Jiabao, China’s prime minister. Top of their agenda is how China is going to manage to continue to sell us loads of "old bollocks" when everyone's bank accounts are up the "shitter".



The IIPBA urges you to support the Chinese‏

China is said to be really concerned that people like Tina from Salford have cut down on the amount of crap that she buys from Primark. Premier Wen or someone is reported to have told his hairdresser that "if those poor people in the northern towns of England stop buying tat made in our sweatshops, then we're going to have to find some other poor sod to buy all this crap". One factory owner in northern Xinjhgung said "I'm not sure why we make trillions of small plastic trees that smell of alpine air, but you guys seem to lap it up and it keeps me in won-tons".

The summit will also discuss what Steve Hilton is wearing on his feet this season; what the most pointless toy of Christmas 2011 is going to be; and how they can get Tina spending money again on things that she doesn't need or really want.

Good luck China - the world's counting on you.

24 October 2011

Thinking Paper #171: EU, EU, EU ... come on and ref-er-en-dum ... EU, EU, EU, come on and join the fun‏

By Ron Ford Golightly

Abstract

Aside from the news that X Factor's Frankie Cocozza threatened to give Louis Walsh a "cherry-bakewell" on national television, everyone, and sadly this is everyone, is STILL talking about this sodding EU referendum. The IIPBA is tired.


Summary

David Cameron is apparently facing his "biggest" backbench rebellion since the time that he tried to introduce "ethnic" foods at the CCHQ canteen. Yawn. William Hague has said something about this being the "wrong question, at the wrong time, in the wrong place, on the wrong continent, with the wrong haircut, in the wrong hotel room, with the wrong special advisor, with the wrong wife etc" . And Ed Miliband said, whilst visiting a paper factory in Burnley, "Look, I KNOW I've got a silly voice, and my face is a little squiffy, but for God sake will someone please listen to me". Elsewhere, Rebels keep beating the drum (a) in the knowledge that it looks really good in front of their silly constituents and (b) in the knowledge that it is safe to do so because they will never win anyway.

The most important bits

1. The vote on whether to have a referendum will not be legally binding.
2. No one cares. Even if we were to have a referendum, turn out would be no higher than 3%.
3. Politicians keep saying "three way" on national television. Ha.

The consequences

The Tory party will tear itself apart as it did in the 1990's, David Cameron will get balder, Eurosceptics will get angrier and more hateful of life.

Thinking Paper #170: The Greasy Pole; Sexing Up Politics‏

By Jamie Harrop, Co-Editor of The Starr Blog

Abstract

Sex, it would seem, sells everything. A quick glance at the TV proves this. Even bathroom cleaners, products designed to remove horrid, smelly things now have attractive women pouting and smiling suggestively as they scrub away at the mess on the toilet ("Bang and my clothes are gone"). If sex really does sell, politics can’t be selling much.



The Greasy Pole; Sexing Up Politics‏

Other than the ravishing, suspiciously sculpted Louise ‘I haven’t had Botox, honest’ Mensch, politics seems a rather dry, very unsexy business. One look around the Commons would prove this fact. In one corner, crumbling away is one Vince "the cable" Cable, who looks rather like one of those hairy dog-poos, which for some inexplicable reason has gone white in the sun. Who’s that wandering in? (waddling seemed too mean; he seems a nice bloke really) It’s Eric Pickles who, rather fantastically and fortuitously, looks, of course, like a rather large pickled egg.

How can we sex up politics?

Dwindling voting numbers and widespread public disenchantment suggests it needs a bit of hotting up:
  • Step up our wise and gracious leader with his new live WebCam shows. Rather kinky Mr Cameron, but a step in the right direction.
  • Even the recent saga over Dr Liam ‘Foxy’ Fox had a bit of sex mixed in, with suggestions of a "spark" between him and Mr Werrity*. Good work guys, that’ll get the public going.
  • Elsewhere, Edwina Currie has been flaunting her stuff on camera too, thrusting herself around, bedecked in sequins. Even the Speaker’s wife was on Big Brother. I wonder if she will do the obligatory topless shoot in Zoo and Nuts? Maybe the Ed Miller Band should do a topless shoot in OK! or Hello too?
Recommendations

When Benjamin Disraeli became Prime Minister in the 19th Century he declared he had “reached the top of the greasy pole.” I suggest combining WebCameron and the aforementioned greasy poles and you might get something that, if sex sells, will really sell. Without it, well, heaven forbid, politics and politicians will become known for just getting on and doing their jobs.

(*The IIPBA would like to categorically state that this was an incorrect scurrilous rumour and Dr Fox is happily married to a stout-looking lady called Jesme)

Thinking Paper #169 - Rioters 'young and less well off' shock.

By Tim Massingberd James

Abstract

The BBC trumpets a 'study' this morning which has spent ages gathering statistics to show the summer's rioters where disproportionately 'poorer, younger, less educated'. The IIPBA doesn't know how much these Home Office figures cost to put together, but we'd have done it cheaper, as this was about the most obvious conclusion possible. We have prepared some other studies below, to save public money.

The studies
  • Retired white people 'more likely to visit National Trust properties'.
  • Cyclists 'more likely to die in cycling accidents'.
  • More than four doughnuts a day 'probably not a good idea'.
  • People with gardens 'more likely to invite friends to a barbeque'.
  • Frequent drinkers 'more likely to die of alcohol-related illness'.
The articles

Repeat this simple format on your news website/ in your paper...

[The headline]

The most comprehensive statistics published so far on [the problem] show that [the obvious conclusion].

The [Government Department] figures, released [recently] show that [statement supporting the obvious conclusion].

Mr [Name of expert], [reputable expert on this subject matter], said “[concise quote summarising the situation]".

The conclusion

It is easier to write news copy that takes little effort

21 October 2011

Thinking Paper #168: Media Storm Generation by Stereotype Matching‏

By Charlie Umtali

Abstract

Millions of people woke up earlier this week to witness a live broadcast of an archetype Tory dream of an entire field of travellers, and their self-appointed scruffy haired young heroic defenders, being forcibly ejected from land by baton-wielding police and court-approved-documentation-wielding bailiffs.

This creates a supreme irony considering Paddy 'King of the Gypsies' Doherty was recently crowned winner of the latest Celebrity Big Brother, but in itself may be an early indication of an automatic karmic rebalancing of the UK media narrative, specifically designed not to disrupt the delicate nature of the Coalition.

The biggest eviction since Jedward

In one of those 'it could only happen under a [mostly] Tory government moments', we'll soon be bombarded with how fantastically close backbenchers came to 'forcing' a referendum on EU membership, after weeks of chatter on how the UK will likely be asked to pony-up more cash for the even-though-we-aren't-in-the-club-we-still-have-to-chip-in-because-we-need-to-make-sure-those-in-the-club-have-enough-cash-to-trade-with-us eurozone bailout.

Worried about NHS changes? Hey, just take a look at how nice Mr Hanson is stressing and struggling to make sure Holby can make it to the hallowed Foundation Trust status before the SHA restructuring, then come back and tell me the system doesn't need changing!

Think the changes to the benefit system are much too much, much too soon? Didn't you just see that programme on Romanian street beggars who claim thousands of pounds a month by faking multiple identities? Using OUR money?

Every possible Conservative stereotype will soon be hyped-up, over analysed, squeaked-at by the Official Opposition, and then reified into a delightfully consumable media story or narrative episode, for ease of digestion for the hung Parliament voting masses. You can't win majorities without bringing a few thousand people over to your way of thinking. There's still three years to go y'know.

Conclusion

Having reached a state of almost pure transcendence, the producers of this week's Sky News broadcast now will be taking a short break to plan the next 'textbook Tory' red meat coverage for their viewership. Perhaps a live broadcast of the Select Committee drafting of a trades-union busting bill, or perhaps a streaming twitter feed of the passage of a Statutory Instrument rescinding the minimum wage. We'll soon be partying like it's 1983.

Friday Thinking Points‏

With Ron Ford Golightly and Tim Massingberd James

Once again, the 24 hours news circus has brought us a week of blood, disease, economic apocolypse and psychological trauma. The IIPBA brings you its thoughts:
  • In a week that brought us the death of Michael Jackson's lookalike, the IIPBA salutes the power of democracy to kill bad guys in an extrajudicial fashion.
  • There's a new Megabus out, with beds! It'll take you from Victoria Coach Station to Glasgow in relative comfort seven nights for a few quid. In the office of Glasgow North MP, Ann McKechin, staff are said to have been working 24/7 on lines to take when this is raised by a local newspaper angry about travel expenses.
  • iPads belonging to Grant Shapps or Sir George Young have yet to be seen in the House of Commons. The IIPBA is disappointed in them. Grant and George, if your spads are going to positively brief the Sunday Times, please make an effort to read it. Hot tip: Luciana Berger and Grant weren't spotted in the Victoria station Wetherspoons together sharing a "2 meals for £6 deal". Luciana had chili con carne, Grant had sausage and mash.
  • The Tory right is finally back to it's default position: Frothing at the mouth about Europe. Dave and the boys are attempting to use very unsubtle subterfuge to convince them all that the single belief they have held above all else for their entire political lives is not worth fighting for.
  • Housing Minister Grant Shapps takes the Big Society a step further with his announcement that people should build their own houses in a "self build revolution". I can't even fix my own washing machine Grant, but I did once put up a shelf successfully. Did you know that Grant's middle name is V? This is true.
  • Politics robot Chloe Smith is now Economic Secretary To The Treasury‎, in a move widely thought to be absolutely bloody stupid. The IIPBA despairs that this is the furthest outside the box our Prime Minister could think. At the very least David Laws, surely, but what about one of the other hundred or more MPs in the Parliamentary Party? The IIPBA thought Mike Penning was a shoo in for it, but Dave was said to be concerned about him building a power base at the treasury.
  • Lynne Featherstone calls for Steve Hilton to be scrapped in a Whitehall wide drive to wipe out small men. Lynne said that this would cut the risk of creating a British Napoleon and therefore war with France and eventually Russia. On balance, we are in agreement with Lynne.

Thinking Paper #167 - Gaddafi is dead, Long live Philip Hammond


By Jacinta Burrow

Abstract

Philip "The Haircut" Hammond. Wow. I mean. He’s been Defence Secretary for under a week and he’s had one MISSION ACCOMPLISHED moment already. It’s a lesson to us all in what can be achieved if you don’t spend the working week lusting after a colleague and get on with popping a cap (or 17) in the splanchnocranium of the North African despot at hand.
The middle bit

Plucked from the living death that is the Department for Transport, Philip Hammond has answered his critics: he may be formed almost entirely of shades of grey, but he knows how to give the world what it wants. “I want his head on my desk by a week on Tuesday” is how Big Phil is said to have greeted the top brass. The IIPBA has thus far been unable to confirm reports that Gaddafi was shot in the head by a man with a heavy, Herefordshire (“who dares wins”) accent.

Phil “The Hammer of Tripoli” Hammond is also a millionaire with a background in the oil trade and it just so happens that there are 41 billion barrels of the stuff in Libya! The IIPBA lost faith with Big Dave after he appointed a barely potty-trained toddler to be Economic Secretary to the Treasury, but this is cabinet shuffling at its old school best.

Concluding remarks

The IIPBA looks forward to snaps of The Phil-ulator glad-handing in downtown Sirte and looking slightly uncomfortable in a pair of khaki slacks. Oh, and we really hope Wikipedia is right about the fact that our new Man at the MoD owns a budgie called Lilly.

20 October 2011

Thinking Paper #166: A bit of the old In/Out‏

By Ron Ford Golightly

Abstract

Hold onto your Johnson's folks, there is a debate next Monday in Parliament to discuss whether or not to have an In/Out referendum on the EU. The media already taste blood and the Tory Whips are said to be "well pissed off" about having to work over the weekend to round up those naughty rebels.


How excited should we all get?

Not very, it's not nearly as exciting as it first seems. The referendum won't happen because, despite the issue being the equivalent of a tool of torture for the Tories, the party will be whipped into voting against a referendum. Labour are pro-European. And, despite being "committed" to having an in-out referendum in its manifesto, the Lib Dems will vote for no such thing because Nick Clegg realised a long time ago that his manifesto was written by Danny Alexander.

Of course, if the IIPBA is wrong, our Cabinet secretary will hold a "root and branch inquiry".

Thinking Paper #165: Cheryl Gillan - True or False‏

By Ron Ford Golightly

Abstract

The true of false series continues apace with a look at the strange world of the Secretary of State for Wales, Cheryl "I'll wear what I bloody-well like" Gillan.


Cheryl Gillan - True or False‏

Before I begin, I need to declare a conflict of interest. Cheryl Gillan is my favourite Cabinet minister, just ahead of Grant "that worthless piece of processed meat" Shapps. Now let us begin (scroll to the bottom for the answers):

A.) Cheryl Gillan once wore a hoody in the House of Commons during PMQs because she had spilt a boiled egg down her blouse ahead of the big shouting match.

B.) One of her middle names is Kendall because for the first 3 years of her life she only ate Kendall mint cake. This is said to be her favourite mountain based snack.

C.) She always sits within camera shot of David Cameron during PMQs because his special advisers want it to appear as though he employs lots of women. He's a bit sensitive about this.

D.) Cheryl has used three-word alliterative phrases (e.g. "she sells seashells") 554 times during Parliamentary debates — this is well above average amongst MPs.

E.) Her new winter coat is made of fake Gorilla fur stolen from the wardrobe of Sigourney Weaver.

Answers:

A) True, B) False, C) True, D) True, E) True (according to our sources close to Sigourney Weaver).

Next week: Grant "I definitely have an iPad" Shapps

19 October 2011

Thinking Paper #164: The Civil Servants fight back‏

By Ron Ford Golightly

Abstract

The neo-ancient war between politicians (and their proxies - the dreaded spad!!!) and civil servants is an exciting one. Remember the Battle of the Bureaucratic Bulge in 1998? Thought so.
The Civil Servants fight back‏

The latest chapter is yet to be named by historians, but the IIPBA would like to get in there first (skip to concluding comments if you hate reading).

Now, as you read on the pages of your favourite think-tank the other day, the Head of the Civil Service, Gus O'Donnell is on his way out. His final hurrah, it seems, is to have persuaded the Prime Minister that civil servants should be given the power to "shop" those pesky Ministers for having runny noses, sharing hotel rooms with "self styled advisors" and drinking tea at their desk (this goes against Health and Safety Rule number 23a; 1b - x). Good work Gus.

The Whitehall rumour is that the Prime Minister accepted this call from O'Donnell after being told off for not doing "joined up writing" in his jotter. An insider told us "Dave is quite petrified of Sir Gus. He reminds him of old Spanky McGuinness, his headteacher at Eton".

However, these changes have not been welcomed by all. Step up "ministerial concerns". "Ministerial concerns" were quoted in the paper today as being worried about one Jeremy (Jezzer) Heywood, the Downing Street permanent secretary, who has been named as O'Donnell's successor. Heywood is said to be building an empire to rival the Ottomans, with his very own policy unit and massage suite. Some are said to be "scared" of Heywood, others "nervous", but mostly people are "in awe of the way he floats through the corridors of Downing Street".

Concluding Comments

Welcome to the Civil Service Age of Jezza H.

Thinking Paper #164: Will anyone shop at the new Oddbins?

By Tim Massingberd James

Abstract

Oddbins has a new owner, but still none of their wines seem to be half price, or less than £4.99. The IIPBA likes a drink, and doesn't everyone, but can the age of austerity be reconciled with buying more expensive wines without - horror of horrors - reducing intake.


Will anyone shop at the new Oddbins?

The IIPBA's thoughts on politicians and drink are well documented, and we were heartened to hear some fine stories about Winston Churchill on the Today Programme this morning. Churchill had a very sensible approach to alcohol, and one legend tells of an advisor to President Roosevelt finding him enjoying a bottle of wine for breakfast in 1943. Churchill justified this by telling him he "had a profound distaste on the one hand for skimmed milk, and no deep-rooted prejudice about wine, and that he had recounciled the conflict in favor of the latter.".

But without the time, money and aristocratic wealth to browse for wines in a wine-specific shop, most of the IIPBA board find ourselves grabbing a couple of bottles of red from the half price shelf at our local supermarket, and drinking them later in the week. We, sadly, don't have the time or money for a leisurely stroll to Oddbins in the village. However, some wine shops are thriving. They're usually the type that hosts free tastings for the wealthy, and get them signed up to buy four cases of ethically-sourced Rioja at the end of the night.

The IIPBA thinks the new owners would do well to go down this route, especially if they can find enough passionate drinkers to staff their stores. We are told that Oddbins and 37 of its stores have been bought for an undisclosed sum by EFB Group, the wine firm owned by multi-millionaire investor Raj Chatha. We hope Raj considers this option, and not the pile-em-high-sell-em-cheap route of the likes of Bargain Booze. We also wouldn't mind if he got some ales in. Thanks Raj.

Conclusion

A new spokesman for Oddbins told the BBC "Yes we want to return to the glory days, the Oddbins brand has a lot of much loved heritage, but we will also be making it relevant to now", which doesn't mean anything.

However, she went on to say "What excites me most as a buyer, is finding gems that we can sell for say six or seven pounds a bottle", which does actually mean something. Wine is going to be six or seven pounds minimum. If lots of it is that price, the IIPBA thinks it'll be ok. If they do one at that price and the others at £40 they'll need some free tasting to get us in the door.

18 October 2011

Thinking Paper #163: Pickles the Pickler Proposes Pointed Penalties for Persistant Problems‏

By Ron Ford Golightly

Abstract

Eric "Pickler" Pickles of Pickering has made a speech today about "problem families". "Problem families" cost Daily Mail readers £8 billion a year each in taxes and they are apparently worse than immigrants.


The speech

According to people on the internet, Pickles said that "Problem families are worse that al-qaeda, immigrants and the European Union all rolled into one."

He added "Labour spent the whole of the IMF budget on trying to fix this and we think that this was wrong because the sun used to shine and now it doesn't and they didn't build a conservatory when it was hot, so we're going to have to put up a greenhouse in the back garden so that the tomatos will grow and actually ripen this year. God I'm out of breathe. Will someone get me a subway foot long?".

It was remarked to be his most impressive speech to date.

Conclusion

Ministers want one dedicated official to turn up at people’s homes to get them out of bed for work, make sure their children go to school and ensure alcoholics or drug addicts go to rehab. Despite unemployment nearing 3 million people, not one person has applied for this vacancy.

Policy recommendations

Get Channel 4 to stick a camera in their homes 24 hours a day and then let middle class people laugh at them.

Thinking Paper #162 - What do you get if you cross an energy summit with a Chris Huhne?

By Ron Ford Golightly

Abstract

An energy summit is something that David Cameron does on Monday's. It usually involves Steve Hilton's feet, energy providers and the political ghosts of several ex-No10 employees.


What do you get if you cross an energy summit with a Chris Huhne?

Yesterday Dave, Chris Huhne and six energy providers sat around in an artistically lit and moderately heated state room. Dave asked people like British gas to stop making record profits. Mr British Gas told him to "sod off" but said that he would arrange for letters to be sent to British households setting out how much they're going to rinse them for this winter.

Chris Huhne and The Telegraph then competed for the prize of who could say the stupidest thing. The Telegraph decided what everyone already knew, namely that the summit produced nothing. And Huhne said that the meeting had been "encouraging".

Conclusion

The IIPBA advises that you invest in a really warm duvet (13 tog) using polar bear, hollow fibre technology and a nice hot water bottle.

****LATEST - uh oh, Friends of the Earth have asked David Cameron to set up an inquiry****

Thinking Paper #161 - If Gus O'Donnell issues a report and no one bothers reading it, does it make a sound?

By Tim Massingberd James

Abstract

Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell is expected to issue a report into Liam Fox today. It's expected to conclude various things, but Foxy has already stood down. Who cares?


If Gus O'Donnell issues a report and no one bothers reading it, does it make a sound?

The report into Liam Fox and his 'best man' is out today, but he's already resigned, so no one really cares. The political class are a fickle bunch. They like a scalp, they like it soon. Before it happens they cast all sorts of aspersions about the potential scalp's character. After it happens there is a brief period of people saying slightly nice things about the chap (and it's almost always a chap) who has stood down. After that there's nothing.

This example throws the usual formula into disarray. Fox is a canny bugger, and resigned on a Friday afternoon about 5pm, when people only really care about going to the pub, and what they're doing for the weekend. By the time Monday rolled round, people had virtually forgotten who he was, and now it's Tuesday, people stare vacantly at their computer with a confused look on their faces trying to remember if they ever knew anything about this shell of a man. If it wasn't for repeats of Have I Got News For You, there'd be a call for an inquiry into why BBC News is reporting non-news.

Conclusion

Former Defence Secretary Liam Fox broke the ministerial code in his dealings with his friend Adam Werritty, but did not gain financially from the arrangement, Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell's official report is expected to say.

We are told that "The prime minister has seen the report", as if that makes any difference at all.

17 October 2011

Thinking Paper # 160: Apple to sponsor British politics‏?

By Ron Ford Golightly

Abstract

MP’s have recently voted in favour of being able to use their iPads, iPhones and BlackBerries during debates in the House of Commons. Luciana Berger, that naughty little temptress from Liverpool, was overheard saying that she was “rather relieved at the prospect of being able to read the Daily Mail celebrity column during Cheryl Gillan’s statements.” Oh, and she added “it’s good for democracy isn’t it?”Yes but what does this mean?

Firstly, MP’s advisors will really push the line that their MP is “cutting edge”. Over the weekend, an adviser to Sir George Young, the leader of the house, said that “George has an iPad and he will use it”. Good for you George. An adviser to Grant Shapps, housing minister, has also been in touch with the papers to let them know that “Grant will be one of the first ministers to take advantage of the new rules”. This is all brilliant Grant, but what about the housing shortage? And what does he mean by “taking advantage”? I do hope that he will keep his John Thomas under control during debates.

Secondly, MP’s will be able to tweet in the chamber e.g. “oh god, sat next to Cheryl Gillan again” and “Just realised that Ed Balls’ hair is too small for his head”.

Thirdly, but not really, Luciana Berger “predicted” that the introduction of tweeting during debates would help convince “thousands” of people to engage in politics. Oh Luciana, why are you so trying?

Fourthly, the speaker will pass a kidney every time someone forgets to turn their phone to silent as they receive yet another phone call from their mum to let them know that they’ve forgotten their lunch. This may or may not result in a far reaching inquiry into mobile phone ringtones.

Fifthly, Oliver Letwin will chuck his iPad in a bin in a park and the Daily Splurge will get all hot under the collar.

Sixthly, Apple’s stocks will plummet as a result of being too closely associated with Grant Shapps. Oh Grant, why do you test me so?

Conclusion

It was inevitable. Why would anyone ever want to listen to what anyone else is saying?

Thinking Paper #159: Gove misses the point‏

By Ron Ford Golightly

Abstract

Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for calculators and highlighter pens, has reportedly had a clear out of his senior civil servants in order to bring in some “senior business executives” to shake up the department. The IIPBA suggests that he is missing the point.

Civil servants - An expose

According to “sources” (is that you Gabriel?), Gove has become increasingly frustrated at the “refusal” of junior civil servants to move faster on implementing far reaching reforms. Gove is said to be “really worried” that “the left leaning education establishment” (?) are “foot dragging” and has therefore decided to advertise for some high flying fat cats to come in and kick some “left leaning” Johnson‘s into shape.

Main point missed # 1

It’s not that they, the “left leaning establishment”, are “out to get you” Michael. The junior civil servants that so frustrate you simply enjoy getting in of a morning at 10am (and this is considered early) and need to leave by 4.30pm in order to beat the rush hour. They must have an hour for lunch in order to keep pret a manger in business and they require at least 4 hours on the internet per day. ‘Top table’ bookings and last minute holidays don’t book themselves now do they?

Main point missed # 2

“Senior business executives” are no doubt very much used to “getting things done” in the private world, and I dare say they are rather good at it. They enjoy working with enthusiastic, money driven young go getters who are willing to put in that extra weekend of work for their in year bonus and company car. They will have a rude awakening when they join the civil service.

Conclusion

That is all Michael. Gabriel, we would be grateful if you could circulate to Spads and ministerial submission boxes please.

Thinking Paper # 158: #OccupyLSX - Why so angry?

By Tim Massingberd James

Abstract

A handful of angry kids have shown up outside St Paul's Cathedral, playing the trumpet and waving placards claiming to represent 99% of humanity. Unlike real politicians, no one elected them and as a percentage of the total population of London alone they represent a infinitesimally small percentage. Nevertheless, they are attention seeking and it is hard for the BBC to ignore them. The IIPBA examines what they might be angry about.

1. Tony Blair is no longer Prime Minister.

Let's be honest, everyone misses Tony a bit. You knew you were ok when Tony was around, and these kids must have been very young when he stood down. It can't have been easy when suddenly Tony was ripped from their lives at such a young age. Bring back Tony and they'll forget all about it.

2. They grew up in a very middle class safe environment and want something to be angry at

Don't we all a little bit? It was supposed to make us all happy being affluent and having everything we ever wanted but actually we still don't feel totally happy. They, and we, need something to be angry about and the bankers are it.

3. They copy literally everything liberal America does

They start wearing skinny jeans, we start wearing skinny jeans. They start riding fixed-wheel bikes, we start riding fixed wheel bikes. They constantly gush about how amazing The Wire is, we constantly gush about how amazing The Wire is. They occupy Wall Street, we occupy the London Stock Exchange. We are the ones who don't have enough intelligence to not copy everything we seen on the Daily Show.

4. There aren't any decent wars at the moment

See point 1. The truth is, Libya was over fairly quickly and we were helping opressed people (albeit to get some lucrative oil contracts). When your troops arent bogged down in a quagmire of foreign dissidents, and aren't sending ten flag-draped coffins a week its harder to rail against war. Besides, if we hated wars at the moment we'd have to hate Obama, and we LURVE him.

5. Something about the bankers.

We're really angry at the stock exchange. The numbers go up and down and we don't quite understand it. I think we hate the FTSE more than the DOW JONES and the CAC quarante, but I'm not sure. Let's have a vote about it where we all wave our hands.

Conclusion

Idiots

14 October 2011

Thinking Paper #157: Liam Fox - A root and branch inquiry‏


An apology

Following the news of Liam Fox's resignation, IIPBA Co-Director, Ron Ford Golightly has issued the following statement:

"As the co-Director of a high profile Westminster think-tank it is important to acknowledge the mistakes I make both in the private (sorry Mrs Go-lightly) and professional spheres. I am therefore writing to apologise to you, the reader, for my rather mistaken belief that Fox would survive the storm of Werrity(see Thinking Paper # 153) and that David "I can't believe it's not butter" Cameron would kick it all into the long grass. This was unacceptable and I must face the consequences of my actions."

The root and branch inquiry

IIPBA Co-Director Tim Massingberd James responded:

"The IIPBA can announce to you today that we will be paying an extortionate amount of money to a former Civil Servant to chair an independent, root and branch inquiry. He will report back to us in 16 years time with a number of recommendations that we could probably come up with over a cup of tea in the IIPBA coffee room.

This is all we have to say on the matter."


Thinking Paper #156: The Oliver Letwin approach to the post bureaucratic age‏

By Ron Ford Golightly

Abstract

We've got one thing to say to the Information Commissioner and the troglodytes over at Labour HQ. Back off. In the eyes of the IIPBA, Oliver Letwin is a hero. So what if he disposed of letters from constituents and fellow MPs into bins in St James Park, London. Have you ever read a letter from a constituent? They're bloody moronic. We just wish that the IIPBA had thought of this first.



What boring Ed had to say on the matter

Ed Miliband said that Letwin should stop treating bits of paper with "contempt" and be more "sensitive" around office stationery as he sat stroking a stapler in his constituency office. He added that he found this behaviour "worrying". No Ed, what is truly worrying is that you are Her Majesty's official opposition.

Elsewhere, Michael Dugher, one of Gordon Brown's ex-spinners, said "It cannot be that there is one rule for ministers and another for everyone else". What? We're all allowed to use bins Michael, you seemingly irrelevant human being. Michael added "Ed Miliband for one has never thrown anything in the bin. He likes to pretend that he's a post box and eat his constituency letters with a dash of tobasco sauce."

St James's Park?

For those of you not reading from the Westminster bubble, St James Park is wonderful. There are ducks and swans and Spanish tourists taking pictures of squirrels. It's the ideal spot to have a little read of some unclassified papers, enjoy a cigar or watch the world go by. We applaud Letwin's approach to non-office based working. I for one would love to occasionally see some natural light or stare at a duck eating a piece of cheeseburger.

Concluding comments

Thank you Oliver Letwin. You have always been a pioneer of the post bureaucratic age and for this we are indebted to you.

Thinking Paper #155 - Considering #jockeygate

By Tim Massingberd James

Abstract

Jockey Richard Hughes has pledged to give up his riding licence after being told off for whipping a horse. Other jockeys are said to be considering a sympathy strike. The IIPBA asks if anyone cares.

Considering #jockeygate

Someone has said that Jockeys shouldn't whip their horses as much any more. For those not in the know, jockeys are the small fellers who ride everywhere on horseback. Occasionally they get paid to race each other, whilst people in suits jeer and throw money at them. In retirement they usually become leprechauns.

Richard Hughes is their leader. He has a Spaniel called Alan, his favourite type of oil is WD40, his best friend is the 'comedian' Lee Evans, and his favourite Radio 4 Programme is You and Yours. Richard and his chums seem to think they have a god-given right to whip horses loads of times and the horsing people say a little bit of whipping is acceptable, but not loads.

The Jockeying industry is at a standstill, and whilst the IIPBA isn't classist, no one would argue that the upper classes are more likely to go to the horsing. As such, we can only think of one viable solution.

The Solution

Richard Hughes should be allowed to ride a saddled (Lord) Julian Fellowes for twelve furlongs, making liberal use of the whip during the entire length of the ride. If Fellowes makes it to the end of the course alive, whipping will be allowed to continue, and Hughes will be reinstated. If he fails to complete the course, the limit on whip use will remain intact and Hughes will be made to serve his ban. If Fellowes falls, he and Hughes will be put to death and converted into glue.

Conclusion

The IIPBA hasn't been on a staff away day to the races since the heady days of the late 1990s. We didn't even know horses still existed, but we have always prided ourselves on being a bastion of fairness, and this appears to be the only fair solution.

Friday's Thinking Points

With Tim Massingberd James and Ron Ford Golightly

Friday's thinking points:
  • It is now acceptable to have your own Special Advisor off the record, off the books and behind the Prime Minister's back. The IIPBA is getting one from Ghana who will live in the stationary cupboard.
  • It is now acceptable to eat Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, as long as he has been is viewed as an act of humanity. The IIPBA fancies a Hugh steak with a glass of Shiraz.
  • It is now acceptable to dispose of high security documents in the bins in St James' Park. The IIPBA followed Cheryl Gillan and found nothing but discarded 'battle rhymes'.
  • It is now acceptable to stream live video footage of a dead girl's flat in the name of 'public interest'. The IIPBA thought - if pushed - that it looked a bit too Ikea.
  • It is now acceptable to make jokes about Paul McCartney's wife again. The IIPBA read one on Popbitch about how Nancy Shevell spends twice as much on shoes.
  • It is now unacceptable for Conservative politicians to talk about disbanding the union, after billions of pounds of oil was found on a housing estate in Glasgow. The IIPBA is looking forward to upcoming Rab C Nesbitt episodes.

Thinking Paper #154: BREAKING NEWS: Fatties should eat less, exercise more‏

By Alexis Horner

Abstract

Hold your headlines; stop the press. Really, stop twittering in the back. Our sedentary society needs a kick up the backside and onto the scales. The government’s obesity strategy has broken the news that we all need to eat less and exercise more in order to lose those muffin-tops, moobs and cankles.


Fatties should eat less, exercise more‏

Here at the IIPBA, we think that they think that we don’t know they think we are stupid. The report, part of the government’s streamlining and efficiency strategy, goes on to advise the following:

1: Lose your fat friends: even the image of extra weight puts on the pounds. Your social circles may shrink 60%, but it’s all in aid of austerity Britain.

2: Make everything greener: that means paint your walls green, re-lay grassy carpets and sleep on a bed of spinach. Healthy room, healthy mind.

3: Run, rabbit, run: The new Work Programme relies on Jobseekers proving their ‘worth’ by running to the JobCentre. If you don’t exceed your Personal Best, you don’t get a gold ‘deserving poor’ mark on your records.

Conclusion

For all of you who were, like us, under the impression that weight gain waxed and waned like the moon, lets streamline our lipids, maximise our efficiency and watch as Eric Pickles is gently edged out of cabinet. Long live Gr-eatless Britain.

13 October 2011

Thinking Paper #153: The Liam Fox Calendar of Events‏

By Ron Ford Golightly

Abstract

Some more Liam Fox related thoughts (poor Liam Fox)

The Liam Fox Calendar of Events‏

The Liam Fox media train rumbles on at top speed and the IIPBA is getting

bored/excited/Adam Werrity. In order to cut through the vast swathes of media babble the IIPBA provides you with a look ahead at key Liam Fox related dates.

Wednesday 12th October (midday): Ed Miliband to get really "angry" during PMQs and say things like "unacceptable", "the Prime Minister must show some leadership" and "do you like my new shadow cabinet - they're pretty aren't they?"

Thursday 13th October: A redtop newspaper to step ever closer to claiming that Liam Fox is gay with Chris Grayling or the mysterious man who stayed in the guest room. (Editor's note - Liam Fox is not gay and has a lovely wife called Jesme)

Friday 14th October: Under the joint guidance of Bill Clinton and Margaret Thatcher, Liam Fox to announce that the UK is at war with the Republic of Magestan.

Saturday 15th October: Everyone to have a nice lie-in and then go shopping for things.

Sunday 16th - Thursday 20th: Newspapers to run out of things to say and to concentrate instead on who Katie Price is marrying/divorcing/mating with.

Friday 21st October: Full report to be published into how many business cards Adam Werrity actually has. The Prime Minister to have a jolly good read of it and then boot it really hard into the long grass. Liam Fox to celebrate his survival with a knees up with Adam Werrity in Dubai alongside Silvio Berlusconi, Paul McCartney and Mrs Fox.

Thinking Paper #152: Chris Huhne and that AA survey‏


By Ron Ford Golightly

Abstract

According to the latest AA survey, around 1% of drivers have swapped penalty points with another motorist to avoid losing their licence.

Chris Huhne and that AA survey‏

AA prime minister, Edmund King Of The Road said: "Our poll suggests that the equivalent of 300,000 drivers and possibly 1 Cabinet minister have admitted that they have persuaded other drivers to take their penalty points."

Chris Huhne's special advisor told the IIPBA that Huhne "didn't even know what a car was, let alone an ex-wife."

The investigation continues...

Thinking Paper #151 - Common(s) Bureaucracy

By Jacinta Burrow

Abstract

Hello again, post-bureaucracy fans! Apologies for my recent silence (the super-injunction’s all sorted now, thanks for asking), but I return with momentous news: the House of Commons Commission has done a new report responding to the new report by the Administration Committee on parliamentary catering arrangements (bureaucracy is alive and well and living in a palace by the River Thames). The IIPBA has skim-read it while waiting for the kettle to boil and has scribbled down the very bestest bits.
The Report’s Best Bits

Committee Recommendation 9 stated “The management of the service needs to respond more quickly and effectively to complaints about poor service” and suggested the introduction of a “‘mystery shopper’ programme”. Can the IIPBA suggest that Gordon Brown be inducted into this scheme? His scarce appearances in the Commons mean that no one will expect him to rock up and sample the new range of floured baps and his dour facial features will give nothing away about his scoring of the new facilities.

Committee Recommendation 15 was that “all Peers should be able to use the Members’ Dining Room at lunch times…” Quoth the Commission, “this may prove to be a contentious matter amongst Members… Discussions will be held with the House of Lords about this”. Now apart from that annual unpleasantness with Black Rod getting a door slammed in his face, is there really such beef between the Commons and Lords? If so, the IIPBA suggests the HoP slims down its £5.7m annual catering loss by selling tickets for some bare-knuckle brawling. Pete “the Dark Lord” Mandelson against Tom “Twiggy” Watson would be an especially spicy fixture.

“More can be done to vary the food styles on offer… There is a gap for the provision of mid-level, high street type offers such as pizza, pasta, Thai, Indian, Chinese or sushi…”, says Committee Recommendation 19. That’s right, folks. It’s 2011 and our elected representatives have just discovered it is possible to eat fish raw. If it wasn’t in the prep school tuck box, it just doesn’t get a look in.

At 27, the Committee recommends that a “self-clear” policy be extended to more Commons outlets. The Commission agrees, but “the clearing systems will need careful design”. Is it too much to expect that those who vote for new laws and send our troops into battle also know, when push comes to shove, how to position their knife and fork to indicate that they’ve finished and how to stack a tray? Yes. That’s why they employ a highly qualified, long-suffering staff.

The IIPBA’s favourite recommendation is number 33 in which our heroes on the Administration Committee suggest that “Moncrieff’s cafebar be renamed Annie’s Bar”. The Commission supports this, with a caveat: “it will be called simply ‘Annie’s’, to avoid it being seen primarily as a drinking establishment”. Have the Commission’s members never met a Member of Parliament? Were it not for g, and indeed t, nothing in Westminster would ever get done. (Please see Thinking Paper #3 for more IIPBA thoughts on the importance of alcohol to our politics, especially to the “new” kind).

Conclusion

The House of Commons Commission (membership 6, plus a Secretary and two Assistant Secretaries) was responding to recommendations from the House of Commons Administration Committee (membership 20, plus a Clerk, a Committee Assistant and a “Media Officer”). The Post-Bureaucratic Age is as far off as ever: ARE YOU LISTENING, LETWIN?

Thinking Paper #150 - Happy Birthday, Lady Thatcher

By Jacinta Burrow

Abstract

Margaret Hilda Thatcher (née Roberts), aka Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven in the County of Lincolnshire, and our forty-ninth Prime Minister, “The Thatch” is 86 today. The IIPBA (especially your humble author) salutes her.


Key achievements

In The Good Old Days before Tony Blair went and spoiled it all and turned Labour into a credible party of government, The Blessed Margaret won three elections on the bounce. The Sisterhood would like to pretend that she was actually a man, but she WAS the first female Prime Minister and that is awesome. Just imagine what Harriet Harperson could achieve if she didn’t spend all her time arguing for special treatment (I know. It just doesn’t bear thinking about).

Whilst Tony and Cherie popped out a fourth child for the benefit of the Murdoch press, The Thatch would not let a little thing like childbirth distract from the business of carving out a career. She squeezed out twins, had a quick shower and then went straight out and qualified as a barrister specialising in taxation.

Maggie had no idea who Monty Python was and was by all accounts very mean to Geoffrey Howe, but she enjoyed a close relationship with Ronald “The Gipper” Reagan after waving her trademark handbag around and ending the Cold War. The trick came in handy again when she told those pesky Argies to get the hell out of the Falkland Islands. That photo of her atop a British tank is to this day laminated and handed out to adolescent male delegates at Conservative Party Conference.

In 1996, Geri Halliwell declared that Maggie was the “first Spice Girl” and originator of “Girl Power”, which surely explains Eminem’s dilemma in the 1999 hit My Name Is (“I can’t figure out which Spice Girl I want to impregnate”). The Russkies nicknamed her “The Iron Lady” and Arthur Scargill had several names for her that it is impossible to repeat on a family think-site.

She may have done a bit of milk snatching and tried to introduce the Poll Tax, but she also let lots of people buy their own houses, she told the trade unions that they wouldn’t fall down dead if they occasionally turned up to work and she told the EU that Britain was jolly well going to grow crooked carrots if it wanted to.

Conclusion

If you’re still not convinced, ask yourself how many times you’ve eaten a 99 with a flake and enjoyed it. That ice cream, my doubting friends, was based on a chemical formula developed by the one, the only, The Thatch. She also remains one of the only people in the world recognisable solely by her hairstyle. Happy birthday, Maggie!

12 October 2011

Thinking Paper #149: Gus O'Donnell - An IIPBA tribute‏

By Ron Ford Golightly

Abstract

Terrible news folks, the Cabinet secretary and head of civil service, Gus O'Donnell has decided to retire. The IIPBA pays tribute.

Gus O'Donnell - An IIPBA tribute

Here at the IIPBA, we quite like Gus, mainly because his intials are GOD, but also because he seems like a thoroughly bloody good chap.

Gus has been a civil servant since he was 4 years old. At the age of 4 and a half he officially became a girl as part of his family's "Equality and Diversity Strategy". At 5 he implemented his first "far reaching inquiry" and by the age of 8 he had executed his first "cross Whitehall reform programme". At the age of nine he received top marks in his "Balanced scorecard appraisal" and was chosen to one day be the highest ranking Civil Servant in the country.

Up until his announced retirement today aged 59, Gus did loads of stuff including reprimanding Tony Blair for putting his feet up on the Cabinet table and telling Gordon Brown that he should cut down on his intake of scotch eggs. During his time as Press Secretary to the Prime Minister from 1990 to 1994, he was also responsible for telling John Major the cricket scores, after Norman Lamont banned Test Match Special from Cabinet Meetings.

When asked by the IIPBA what his favourite bit about being a civil servant was, he replied working flexi-time (he is currently a hundred hours down, but hopes this will be forgotten when he leaves) "going on the internet all day", and the gold-plated taxpayers money pension.

Conclusion

Happy retirement GOD.

Thinking Paper #148: Political speeches - some research‏

By Ron Ford Golightly

Abstract

The IIPBA watched Liam Fox's statement earlier this week with a nagging feeling that something was missing. We came to the realisation that it was Liam Fox. The same feeling struck us as we watched three weeks worth of politicians saying things on our TVs. They were absent behind the eyes. The IIPBA dun some research.



The research

We asked 1,000 people "who are the best political speakers in the country at the moment?" 1,000 people responded with a really long silence and then a polite "excuse me I've got to get home for tea."

The analysis

1.) The gradual bureaucratisation (booooo) of politics, means that politicians read speeches written for them by somebody else. Usually, a young whipper snapper of a high flying civil servant who has forgotten how to emote.

2.) This leads to politicians being made to feel that they're not real political leaders, but rather heads of large bureaucracies (booooo) or better still, actors reading from a really boring film script.

3.) The consequences are that they drift and they plod, extremely bored, through pages upon pages of bureaucrats' (booooo) handy work. They're bored, we're bored, even Kay Burley is bored.

4.) This has led to speech writers looking to add ‘rhetoric’ into a speech, such as using real people's names, to make them look like they know how humans talk (e.g."I met a black person called Clive the other week and he told me that immigration levels are too high...") .

The result

Our beloved leaders delivering speeches that, at one level, are boring, solid stuff and, at another level, cheap rhetoric.

11 October 2011

Thinking Paper - Porn you like‏

By Ron Ford Golightly

The IIPBA learnt this morning that four web providers are set to offer customers the option to block pornographic content at the point at which they subscribe. The IIPBA takes you through what a conversation might look like between a husband and wife discussing this new offer.

Woman: "Nice day at work darling?"

Man: "Brilliant thanks, I looked at a spreadsheet all day and made loads of money etc"

Woman: "Have you seen this new offer by X to provide a block on pornographic content when you subscribe with them?"

Man: "Errr, no I haven't. You know, I've been really busy with spreadsheets and outlook calendars".

Woman: "I think it's a really good idea. It'll help protect little Jimmy from getting too sexy".

Man: "Errr, I'm not sure darling. Is it such a good idea?". (man begins to look shifty and shows signs of early perspiration)

Woman: "Of course it is. Think about little Jimmy"

Man: "Jimmy's fine. What's for tea?"

Woman: "Why won't you think of Jimmy?"

Man: "Is that chicken casserole I can smell?"

Woman: "JIMMY NEEDS PROTECTING FROM SEXY STUFF"

Man: "mmm, I love chicken casserole. So it's settled then. We'll stick with our existing internet provider which offers no safeguards against sexy stuff. It's probably for the best"

10 October 2011

Thinking Paper #146: Liam Fox and Adam Werrity: Q&A‏

Abstract

Liam Fox? That's the question on everyone's lips. The IIPBA has the answers.


What is a Liam Fox?

A Liam Fox is said to be quite a common type of homosapien. The IIPBA completely rejects this notion, and would like to reiterate that Dr Fox is happily married to a stout-looking lady called Jesme. We have noticed in recent days that, by his own admission, a Liam Fox is a "very sorry".

What is the difference between "baseless allegations" and "very sorry"?

A few videos which shoot really big holes in your story.

What is an Adam Werrity?

An Adam Werrity is quite a clever species of human. By his very nature, an Adam Werrity is a skilled manipulator of people. Werrity's specialise in targeting potentially powerful individuals and then riding their tailcoats into the sunset.

Does this go on a fair bit of the time?

Almost certainly. Jobs for the buoys. Whaaaaayyyyy

How many business cards did Adam Werrity actually carry?

He carried 37 business cards in total. The IIPBA's favourite is the one which reads "Adam Werrity - part time twat, full time penis"

What happened in room 341?

All sorts of stuff really. Emails, haircuts, Sri Lankans, erm, national security secrets etc.

What is a self-styled advisor?

Whitehall sources suggest that a self-styled advisor is someone who can comb his own hair and tie his own tie (double Windsor of course).

What will Dave say?

Well, he's already said that he wants answers on his desk by this morning. That's about now. Then he will say, "get over here now Liam. You've been a right naughty pickle. I'm afraid we're gonna have to chuck you out and get David Laws back in the Cabinet somewhere".

What will actually happen?

The poor bureaucrat charged with leading the inquiry will get so confused by all of Adam Werrity's business cards that she will abandon her career in the civil service and sail around the world where she will enjoy eating lovely pieces of tropical fruit and such like.

Thinking Paper #145: Chris Huhne: A rather fun distraction‏

By Ron Ford Golightly

Abstract

It’s really very difficult to be interested in anything else when Chris Huhne is around. For me, he’s become a must watch Minister, mainly due to fact that he balances a wonderful combination of being slightly pompous with a nice element of being rather easy to ridicule. In addition to this, he’s got a lovely haircut, not like that awkward back comb that the Prime Minister enjoys.


Chris Huhne: A rather fun distraction‏

Things that I’ve liked about Chris Huhne recently:

1) He was the only Cabinet Minister to be quoted in defence of Liam “Fox in the box” Fox. When asked he said that Liam “should be seen as innocent until proven guilty”. This is particularly fun given the existing police investigations into whether or not he is able to drive a car (or something)

2) He got himself into a hole this week for accidentally making a private tweet public. He then said sorry to Theresa May for saying that she looked like Nigel Farrage. Which she doesn't. In the opinion of the IIPBA she looks more like a rather beautiful bird of prey e.g. an Osprey

3) Half of the Cabinet keep making jibes about him in public.

4) He tried to reflect ongoing accusations about his speeding habits onto Phil “the haircut” Hammond by claiming that big Phil had recently received points for speeding. Spads at the department for transport denied this. Who cares? I for one am enjoying the transport related negative briefing against one another.

5) Although they didn’t happen this week I can always cheer myself up by reminding myself that (a) he claims to be the most economically literate member of the cabinet (is this depressing or laughable - I can’t decide) (b) his middle name is Murray

Conclusion

Have a nice week Chris