Monday 17 October 2011

The Fable of the Fox and the Hounds

Photo by Steve Bell
*please see Editor's note at end

Once upon a time there was a Very Clever Fox. Foxy was so clever he became Shadow Health Secretary, and was so busy in his lovely new job he got his little friend Verity to help him. Verity and his friend Bertie passed themselves off as experts in Health, because that's what Foxy needed, and they did lots of things that were very important for Foxy's job, such as getting money from Multinational Drugs Companies so he could find out how to make us all really healthy.

Foxy was so good at being a Shadow Health Secretary, he was promoted to Shadow Defence Secretary. He was also a bit of a magician, and hey presto, with one wave of Foxy's magic wand Verity was transformed into an expert on Defence. Foxy's new job involved lots of journeys to the US to meet the Special Friends he had over there, so he built an Atlantic Bridge so he could cross the Ocean in a jiffy, whenever he wanted. Which turned out to be quite often. The Bridge was designed to be wide enough for two to cross over together, which was good because it meant Verity could go with him. Which he did, quite often.

Il Padrone
Some of Foxy's Posh friends had helped him build this Bridge, including the self-styled 'Iron Lady', who became Patron (or Padrone, as they call it in Italian), because her family know a thing or two about making money from dealing in guns and other Defency stuff.

They classed it an 'Educational Charity', which sounded harmless enough, and meant they could avoid paying tax on the income. Some nice rich Speculators and Arms Merchants paid them lots of dollars to keep it running. And guess who Foxy put in charge of it? Yes, right first time - his little friend Verity.

Then all of a sudden Foxy and his Posh friends won an Election, and Foxy dropped the Shadow - now he was a real-life Defence Secretary, in charge of actual bombs and guns and uniforms. Just what he'd always dreamed of!

Foxy gets to play with a gun!

Now despite being a Very Clever Fox, he found he needed lots of Advice in his job, and the Civil Servants in his Department just didn't tell him what he wanted to hear. So he got himself his very own personal adviser. Yes - Verity again! Verity even got himself some special cards printed so people would know how important he was, and the two of them set off to travel the world together.

Foxy and Verity sort things out
They met with Very Important People such as Presidents and Generals, and the odd Arms Merchant and Speculator of course, and made sure they had their photos taken at each port of call.

They were really busy-busy, going hither and thither, and hither again, and staying in the most expensive places, and some of the highest, everywhere they went. And all the while they were 'networking', as important people do, so it's a good job they had built up a nice cosy network of 'friends' and 'business associates'. It gets quite complicated, so when someone at the next table asked him "Who's your friend?", Foxy drew this rough sketch on a table napkin.

Foxy's Network

Now Foxy's probably the only person clever enough to keep all this in his head at once, and like lots of very clever people his handwriting's not brilliant, so for the rest of us mere mortals, who'd like to understand who's doing what to whom, our boffins have come up with this lovely legible version, with moving bits.

We paid for Foxy on his trips of course, because he was our Representative. We couldn't pay for Verity as well because he wasn't really our Representative, just Foxy's personal fixer, but luckily the Arms Merchants and Speculators were paying for him, so he didn't get left out!

So Verity beavered away, fixing up meetings with Ambassadors, Presidents, representatives of Presidents and suchlike. It got so good that Verity was even invited to tell the Israeli Secret Service - and the Iranian opposition - what to do about Iran. How clever is that? And then, thrillingly, when he got back home he was invited to tell MI6 all about it.

Another wheeze was when they set up the Sri Lanka Development Trust, ostensibly to do good works in that troubled country. This Trust paid for Foxy to visit Sri Lanka three times in a year, but the good works are so far quite thin on the ground - in fact there don't appear to be any at all. 

The Sri Lanka Development Trust in action
The Trust is keeping its good work so close to its chest that it has "no website, no publicity material, and is unknown to aid workers". Nor is Foxy letting on "who funds it, how it makes a profit and who works for it". He's not even telling the Charity Commission or Companies House. Cunning as a Fox, eh?

But all this is speculation. Who knows what cunning stunts Foxy and Verity cooked up between them on their travels! Who knows?

And they would probably still be cooking, but for a few unappreciative spoilsports. The Charity Commission decreed that Atlantic Bridge had misrepresented itself, and that "its charitable purposes have not been advanced by any of its activities", so they struck it off the list. Foxy closed the whole Bridgey thing down pretty damn quick, and hoped no-one would notice.

But it was too little, too late, alas.

For by this time some nasty News Hounds were on their trail, accusing them of all sorts of misdemeanours, such as lying, misrepresentation, fraud, corruption, cronyism, breach of the ministerial Code of Conduct, promoting an alternative defence policy, and other crimes too numerous to mention.

Foxy made a valiant effort to defend himself from these slanders, and wheeled out a secret machine he had designed for just such a purpose - his very own patented Language Mangler. Apparently he's found a way to put an English sentence in at one end, and have the Mangler spout a stream of incomprehensible gibberish at the other, which Foxy hopes will put the Hounds off his scent. Here are some examples of the Mangler's recent output:
Foxy's Language Mangler
"I should not have allowed the impression of wrongdoing to arise"
"I accept that it was a mistake to allow distinctions to be blurred between my professional responsibilities and my personal loyalties to a friend."
"When it comes to the pecuniary interests of Mr Verity in those conferences, I am absolutely confident that he was not dependent on any transactional behaviour to maintain his income."
If you're struggling to discern any meaning in these Foxy utterances, one of the Hounds has made a brave attempt to decipher how the Mangler works.

To make matters worse, Foxy was given the "dreaded vote of confidence" by the Top Posh Boy. In a series of encrypted text messages, which our boffins have decoded into everyday English, Posh Boy told him:
"Y'v made ur bed, Foxy, now u must lie in it"
"I shl leave u to stew in ur own jce for a bit"
"We cnt go on lk ths. Its bad 4 my img. P*ss off Foxy b4 I kck u out."
Thus was Foxy left with no Defence, and with no exit strategy but to fall down the barrel of his own machine-gun (see photo above).

As this is a Fable dear readers, there has to be a Moral. In this instance our Moral has kindly - though probably unwittingly - been provided by Posh Boy himself, in an uncannily prescient speech made over a year before the events recounted here. Posh Boy thought he was talking about someone else's past. In fact he was predicting his own future (see also these juicy examples):
"It is the next big scandal waiting to happen.

The lunches, the hospitality, the quiet word in your ear, the ex-ministers and ex-advisors for hire, helping big business find the right way to get its way.

We don’t know who is meeting whom. We don’t know whether any favours are being exchanged. We don’t know which outside interests are wielding unhealthy influence.

Money buying power, power fishing for money and a cosy club at the top making decisions in their own interest.

We can’t go on like this."
*Editor's note: We are not making any of this up. Honest.

Wednesday 12 October 2011

I am not making this up

Theresa May, the Posh Boys' Home Secretary, got her biggest laugh at the recent Tory Conference by attacking the Human Rights Act with a story about a judge who allegedly allowed an "illegal immigrant" to stay in the UK because he had a cat.

There are several issues here. First, it's a lie, in several respects. Second, she nicked the story from the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, which her own leader David Cameron regards as consisting of "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists, mostly". Not content with stealing the story, she was apparently so comfortable with the source that she also pinched the phrasing and even - and I am not making this up - the pausing for effect.

Third, cabinet colleagues Ken Clarke and Christopher Huhne both apologised to her for pointing out to the rest of us that she had indeed sought cheap applause at her party conference by peddling a racist lie from the loony right. Why did they feel the need to apologise for telling us the truth? Did someone lean on them? Someone Posh, perhaps??

Sunday 18 September 2011

Is this corruption (3)?

This time it's a minister, changing the law to suit his own company - and his own pocket, of course. Jonathan Djanogly is the Posh Boys' Legal Services Minister, and is also a partner in his family's insurance business. His latest wheeze is to push through changes that slash the legal aid budget, and force claimants to pay higher legal and insurance fees. Experts reckon this will put hundreds of millions of pounds into the coffers of the insurance companies, including Djanogly's.

Does this smell vaguely like a conflict of interest? At the very least??

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Is this Corruption (2)?

A couple of weeks ago it was Michael Gove's Department of Education dishing out contracts to the boys, as Special Adviser Dominic Cummings went off to work for a company the department had contracted to run the so-called 'free schools' scheme that he himself had advised the department to adopt.

Now they're at it again - this time it's contracts for the girls, as a company set up by Emma Harrison, appointed 'families champion' by David Cameron a few months back, bids for government money to run 'Working Families Everywhere', a scheme she herself helped design within the Department for Work and Pensions.

Harrison realised some people might think there was a possible conflict of interest if her own private welfare company, A4e, bid for the contract, so she set up a "partnership" - 'Families Unlimited' - to bid for the money, with A4e sub-contracting from them. Apparently the DWP thinks it's OK, so long as A4e is not the 'prime contractor'. So a 'prime contractor' and a 'sub-contractor' are two different entities, even when they are owned by the same person?

Harrison is a multimillionaire (aren't they all?), so she doesn't really need the money. However, the families she is supposed to be trying to help do need it. A4e were granted £1 million to get a target of 400 people into work in a scheme in London; they'd managed to get jobs for 14 of them after a year. That works out at a success rate of 3.5% - just the sort of record that apparently wins contracts from your friends in government.

And of course the whole thing is just one more manoeuvre to try to put the blame for unemployment and other social problems on the unemployed themsleves.

This smells. Of nepotism (if we can extend the term to friends, not just nephews), deception, hypocrisy and corruption. But that's the way the posh boys work, isn't it?

Tuesday 30 August 2011

Is this Corruption?

Is it corrupt if a person who works as as Special Adviser to a Minister, persuades the Government Department he is working in to hand over half a million pounds to an organisation run by a previous adviser to the same Minister, and then goes off and works for - and gets paid by - that same organisation?

In fact, in this case it's even worse.

Dominic Cummings, was earlier this year appointed as Special Adviser to Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education, and worked on Gove's so-called 'Free Schools' policy. This policy is effectively using state funding to establish private schools - i.e., diverting state resources from the public to the private sector - and had been rushed through Parliament using procedures intended for emergency anti-terrorism measures. Cummings urged that a grant of £500,000 be awarded to the New Schools Network to advise and help develop 'Free Schools'. No other organisation was invited to bid for the work.

Shortly afterwards the Government cancelled the previous government's 'Building Schools for the Future' scheme. So money that had been earmarked for renovating thousands of state schools was siphoned off to an untried, untested - and socially divisive - scheme, specifically designed to subvert the state system.

Clever, eh?

And then Cummings went off to work for his friends at the NSN, who paid him with the money he had steered their way in the first place.

See Wikipedia on Political Corruption, especially this section on 'kickbacks'.

Thursday 27 January 2011

The dreadful dreams of a Health Minister

From an unmarked van parked across the street, our Dream Detection Team - the DreaDiT Unit - has managed to capture what was going through the mind of Health Minister Andrew Lansley the night before he introduced his self-styled 'reform' of the National Health Service.

And from the resulting incomprehensible stream of noughts and ones (mostly noughts, it must be said), our cutting-edge Dream Visualisation program - iDriVel for short - has created the scientifically accurate illustration you see above.

Our dream interpreters - the DrIps squad - then attempted to explain some of the iconography of the dream. Theirs is not an enviable task, for gazing too long on such an unpleasant image could seriously damage your health. Amongst other key symbols, they highlight the relish with which the 'surgeon' rips the guts out of the patient, and the vulture and the fat-cats hovering in attendance, awaiting the pickings.

Our in-house Dream Analyst - Dr Anal to his colleagues - gives the following summary of the verbal content of the dream:

"Premier Milton Keynes is one of two consortia there in its application to be a pathfinder consortium."

"Over the next two years we will enable them to develop these existing primary care trust schemes with voluntary and independent sector support."

"GPs in Redbridge have been pioneering GP-led consortia, shifting care into primary care …"

"improved core delivery of the efficiency challenge … reinforcing the interface."

What it all means, we have no idea, and we doubt whether Lansley does, either.

And if you're still with us, our patented dream location software - DroLocS - pinpoints the capture as taking place not in the bedroom, as Dr Anal had suggested, but "somewhere in the bathroom"; what he was doing in there, and why the poor chap wasn't safely tucked up in bed at that hour of the night, we shudder to think.

It is not known what real-life events prompted this disturbing dream. One conjecture is that the victim may have recently visited the Mauritshuis Museum in The Hague, and inadvertently stumbled across this painting by Rembrandt.

If this is so, his mind appears to have totally lost its grip on the original intention of the artist, for the doctor in the painting is clearly sticking his scissors into the arm of a corpse, and demonstrating to his eager listeners the latest 17th Century techniques for saving lives. Whereas in Lansley's dream - well, judge for yourself.

Remember - "We're all in this together"!

Tuesday 25 January 2011

Posh Boy job references discovered

smarmy - poisonous - slippery - evasive - condescending - patronising

One of our Oxfordshire operatives, 'Mrs Mopps' (not her real name), has managed to gain access - hoover in hand - to the Posh Boy study, where she has come across the following clippings. They are on irregularly cut scraps of paper, and our forensic team deduces that they had been scissored - in some haste - from character references obtained from former colleagues when he was applying for his current post. They appear to have been brushed under the carpet.

"I wouldn't trust him with my daughter's pocket money."
"louche, slippery, unhelpful and evasive"
"never gave a straight answer when dissemblance was a plausible alternative"
"put up so much verbal tracker you started to lose your own guidance system."
Jeff Randall, financial journalist, Sky TV

"aggressive, sharp-tongued, often condescending and patronising"
"frequently obstructive and unhelpful"
Chris Blackhurst, City editor of the London Evening Standard

Patrick Hosking, investment editor of The Times

"a poisonous, slippery individual"
"a smarmy bully"
"far from the smoothie he pretends to be now"
Ian King, business editor, The Sun

"a bombastic bully"
Conservative Central Office colleague

"philosophically naive and vacuous"
Simon Heffer, Daily Telegraph columnist

"an out-and-out opportunist"
"I don't believe he believes anything"
Robin Harris, Conservative Research Department

"at his interview for Oxford, he was caught bluffing about how much philosophy he had read"
"a cautious man, someone who would think twice before throwing a bottle at a policeman"
The many faces of Mr. Cameron (Francis Elliott and James Hanning)

Mrs Mopps' full report has been transcribed by Brian Reade: David Cameron: What the experts say, for which many thanks.