Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Fantasy Government Step 2 - View The Cock-Up Parade

You can do one of two things with a government like this one. You can take it all very seriously, get very depressed, and spend most of your days wanting to shoot Gordon Brown or whichever minister is ruining your life at the time. Or you can put a smile on your face, accept it's all going to be bloody horrible and make the best of it by trying to have a laugh, before they make laughing illegal.

The aim of the game is to pick the five people whom you think will most quickly help this country to descend further into chaos, confusion and carnage. For every Cock Up achieved by the Government Ministers, they'll be awarded points. And if you've selected them in your Fantasy Government team, you'll be awarded points too.

Got the hang of it already ? Then view the list of ministers and pick your team in Step 3.

Below, to give you an idea of how the points-scoring works, is a list of awards made since Gordon Brown formed his government at the end of June. The Cock Ups are starting to roll...

23rd July: John Hutton - 10 points. Hutton's first out of the blocks at the start of a series of strikes by Royal Mail workers over pay and potential job cuts. The dispute (and previous strikes) started before Hutton came into office but as there have been talks since he started, and this is a new series of walkouts, he can collect 10 points.

31st July: Jack Straw - 1 point. The Appeal Court rules that the government has been acting unlawfully by keeping prisoners in jail longer than necessary. Would normally be 2pts for what is a pretty standard ministry cock-up (the government's always being caught doing things illegally, after all) but only 1 point awarded to Jack Straw because he's not been in the job long; he could have stopped the case - hence the point - but he wasn't in the job when the case first got moved.The Appeal Court ruling is subject to an appeal - the point will get taken off Jack if the government wins the appeal.

6th August: Jacqui Smith - 2 points. Jacqui Smith is up-and-running following the outbreak on 4/8/7 of 26 men (all of whom are convicted criminals) awaiting deportation from the Campsfield House Immigration Detention Centre in Oxfordshire. Being a fair minded critic of this government, Womble On Tour gives Plod a little time to catch them all, but two days later it appears that 14 are still at large. Trying to decide whether this is a minor or standard ministry cock-up...I'd say standard. Good work, Jacqui.

21st August: Jacqui Smith - 2 points. Follows decision by the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal that Learco Chindamo cannot be deported to Italy following his sentence for the murder of teacher Philip Lawrence. Two points awarded to Jacqui (she's been in the job long enough now to take the full blame for a standard ministry cock-up), for her first legal defeat. Points will be taken away if she wins the appeal. You could argue that Jack Straw deserves an award too, because it was he who helped draft the Human Rights Legislation when he was Home Secretary, but Fantasy Government doesn't reward people for incompetence that took place in the distant past.

29th August: Jack Straw - 12 points. Thousands of prison officers in England and Wales walk out on strike in a protest over their phased pay awards. Jack Straw claims it's illegal, but who cares ? Illegal or not, it's a strike. As well as earning ten valuable points for the strike itself, Jack earns two extra STYLE points in recognition of his magnificent ignorance that it was in the offing. To engineer a strike in this day and age takes talent in itself, but to be so blissfully unaware that it was just around the corner is truly the mark of a world-class Cock Up Artist.

....................3rd September: Ruth Kelly - 10 points. Chaos for millions of London commuters, a day off for 2,300 members of the RMT, and ten points for "our Ruth" following the London Underground strike. The strikers had intended to do a proper job of it and stay out for 72 hours in this dispute over pensions and jobs. In the event they went back to work after about 30, but who are we at Womble On tour to deny Ruth her first score ?
Second public sector strike inside a week. It's just like old times !

7th September: Jack Straw - 2 points. Two more points for our early leader on the back of the High Court ruling that the Parole Board in England and Wales is not "sufficiently independent" of government. This ruling came after a challenge by four prisoners, who said the board was too close to the government and its decisions were not "objective". It's good going, really. The Ministry's only been up-and-running for four months, and it's had two court defeats already.

12th September: Hilary Benn - 5 points. I'd decided to give Hilary Benn the benefit of the doubt after the first Foot & Mouth outbreak because it wasn't completely clear where it had come from. But when we got the second outbreak, three days after Defra had announced, in their self-congratulatory fashion, that they'd eradicated it, Hilary really had to be recognised. All-in-all, it feels a bit more than a "standard" ministry cock-up. More of a medium one, worth five points.

28th September: James Purnell - 5 points. I've thought long and hard on this. We all know that the picture of a group of dignitaries in front of Tameside General Hospital was faked to include James Purnell, who was late for the shoot. He's denying that he had anything to do with it, while the NHS is adamant that he gave his consent. If they're right and he did then he's banged to rights but we'll never know the truth for certain. So it is right to think of this as a hit in the Fantasy Government charts ? Well, why the hell not ? This isn't a court of law, it's a bit of fun. If they don't like us taking the Mickey out of them then they shouldn't spend so much of their time ordering us about. Five points for the guy I've never heard of.

4th October: John Hutton - 5 points. You might think it's a bit unfair to reward Hutton again on the back of the Postal strike, partly because he got ten points in July and partly because actually he's quite far removed from this dispute, and is letting Royal Mail run the (no) show. But the bottom line is that this is a Nationalised Industry we're talking about, it's in his area of responsibility, and this is a huge escalation of the row. We'll only give him five points this time, instead of the ten usually awarded for a strike. Don't want to be accused of bias.

18th October: Alan Johnson - 2 points. The Cheeky Postman is off the mark on the news that the National Treatment Agency (NTA) is giving drugs as rewards to heroin and cocaine addicts who produce clean urine samples.

30th October: Jacqui Smith and Peter Hain - 2 points each. It's two-for-one at all New Labour outlets now ! Jacqui Smith's simply woeful department provides spectacularly inaccurate information about the numbers of migrant workers coming to the UK, and Peter Hain is crazy enough to announce them to the Commons. There's teamwork for you.

30th October: Ed Balls - 5 points. Gordon's best mate is into the action with a Policy U-turn. Naturally, he hasn't got the, um, balls to tell us himself, so he sends minion Jim Knight in to bat to announce that the proposal to impose a 5% levy on excess cash held by schools has been dropped. Balls' sidekick said in the Commons that the government had "recognised schools' reasonable concerns". "Rather than proceed now we will continue to discuss these detailed concerns with schools and work with local authorities to lower excessive surplus revenue balances," said Mr Knight. Which roughly translated means "We haven't got the balls to take on the unions".

20th November: Alistair Darling - 10 points. Alistair Darling, come to Mama ! This man heads up the department which manages to lose - yes, lose - 25 million Child Benefit records, along with NI numbers and bank details. From a government that's always telling us to look after our personal information, this is a truly wonderful example of ineptitude. 10 points for a major ministry cock-up hardly does it justice, really.

27th November: Harriet Harman - 5 points. Hey, isn't it great to see the lovely Harriet score ? Actually, it turns out that she was first off the mark, because on 4th July, just one week after the formation of Brown's Politburo, she accepted a £5K donation in one person's name when it actually came from ssomebody else. Given that that someone else was David Abrahams, the serial secret donor, this is a reasonably stylish cock-up deserving of recognition.

29th November: Jack Straw - 2 points. Class tells once more and the prolific Jack shows his worth with a story that hundreds of suspected criminals have not had warrants for their arrest issued when they've failed to turn up in court. Result ? They escape without even having to face trial. This means that having spent God knows how long getting a case to court, the police just stand and watch as their suspect waltzes off into the night. New Labour - tough on crime, tough on the enemies of crime.

13th December: Jacqui Smith - 2 points. Not content with bog-standard incompetence, Jacqui pulls off a cock-up within a cock-up. In November she announced that the Home Office had cleared 5,000 immigrants for UK security jobs when it shouldn't have done. (This in itself didn't attract Fantasy Government points because it happened before she started in the job). Now we learn that actually it wasn't 5,000. We now know that it was at least 6,600, and may actually have been 11,000. We won't know until they've worked out what they should have done wigth 4,400 immigrants over whom they seem to have lost the plot completely. What it boils down to is this; not only can the Home Office not enforce its own rules properly - they can;t even count.

17th December: Ruth Kelly - 2 points. I don't suppose we can blame Ruth Kelly for the loss of a hard drive containing the names of three million driving theory test candidates in the USA, given that it happened before Fantasy Government kicked off. But the most ccertainly can blame her for the fact that she's been in the job nearly six months and she's only just found out about it. Sometimes the ignorance of our ministers really does border on the impressive.

3rd January 2008: Ruth Kelly - 2 points. The last scorer of 2007 was Ruth Kelly, and the first scorer of 2008 is...Ruth Kelly. Even the socialism-loving Daily Mirror refers to "Notwork Rail", in praise of the incompetence of the State-run operators who supposedly maintain our track. Works between Coventry and Northampton overrun dramatically, screwing many a passenger as they try to get back from holiday / return to work / just lead a normal life.

10th January: Peter Hain - 10 points. In truth Peter Hain has scored well before now, but it's kind of difficult to keep up with every government cock-up. Anyway, the admission that he'd forgotten (sic) to declare £103,000 worth of donations to his Deputy Leadership campaign with the Electoral Commission puts the efforts of The Divine Harriet (see 27th November above) to shame, and must be worth double the points at least. Fabulous effort, Mr H.

18th January: Des Browne - 2 points. Another month, another government data security cock-up. This time it's the turn of the MoD to throw personal data out of the window with complete inimpunityA laptop, containing the names of 600,000 people who had either joined or expressed an interest in joining the armed forces, is nicked from a car, where it is left overnight. If you know anything at all about Data Protection law you might be tempted to ask what the hell 600,000 names (along with bank account details, NI numbers etc etc) were doing in unencrypted form on a laptop, and why that laptop should have been treated with such negligence by the person susupposedlyooking after it. You might. Clearly the MoD won't.

23rd January: Jacqui Smith - 2 points: OK, it's not a strike, but then again the Police can't go on strike. What they can do is dedemonstrateand when you do something as Home Secretary that so enrages them that 22.000 of them feel compelled to march through the streets of London, you deserve at least a couple of FG points. It probably cost some of them more to get to the demo today than the sum of money they've lost through not having their pay award back-dated. Which tells me that they're fighting for what they see as a principle, and that they think Ms Smith has betrayed them.

23rd January: David Miliband - 2 points: Hey, we haven't had a government legal defeat for, well, five whole months ! But the Boy Wonder is off the mark following the ruling that the early draft of the government's infamous dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction must be made public. The government's fought this tooth and nail, and may appeal, which makes you wonder what's in the document that's so incriminating.

24th January: Peter Hain - 50 points: Peter Hain is the first to bag a maximum. There is no greater cock-up in Fantasy Government than getting the old tin tack or, in this case, being forced to resign. Having spent weeks reeling from the criticism and ridicule resulting from the comic mis-handling of his Deputy Leadership campaign fund, Peter Hain walks the plank when the Electoral Commission decide that it's too big for them to handle and refer the whole thing to the Police.

1st February: Jack Straw - 4 points: We haven't had a governmental legal defeat for a while - not since Jack Straw was last in court, in fact. Well, on the same day that the ruling from 7th September is upheld, confirming that the Parole Board is insufficiently independent of government, Jack suffers another defeat. This time it's the parole treatment of some prisoners on open-ended indeterminate sentences that the Appeal Court has shown the red card to. Such prisoners cannot be cannot be released until the Parole Board is satisfied they no longer pose a threat to the public, but Appeal Court judge Lord Philips said thT Straw had not provided the resources, such as rehabilitation courses, for these prisoners to demonstrate they were safe enough to set free. Two defeats on same day ? That's STYLE, that is.

So, that's the form book. Now all you have to do is pick you Fantasy Cabinet team in Step 3.


Dave From Daventry said...

What a great game - give me a bit of time and I'll pick out THE winning team !

Dave from Daventry said...

Right, this is my winning combo..
Jack Straw - Rating =3,
Ruth Kelly - Rating = 3,
Bev Highes - Rating = 1,
Yvette Cooper - Rating = 1,
Shaun Woodward - Rating = 1