While the cat’s away…

Posted on: 18th May 2011

Originally posted May 16th 2007

And now we go over to a “Downing Street spokesman” holding the weekly press conference and answering questions on behalf of the Prime Minister.

Whilst the “rat pack” of journalists are eager to catch out their prey with cunning and guile, our civil servant seeks only to calm – even to frustrate – his tormentors. The key objective is not to give them what they so desperately desire – a lurid front page headline which would shock the nation and set hares running for days.

First question: “With the Prime Minister abroad and the Chancellor involved in his leadership campaign, did this mean that Mr Prescott was taking on a very important role?”

(You have to remember that civil servants are schooled in the arts of the impeccable diplomat even if the language used may sometimes be gently sardonic).

The reply: “The Deputy Prime Minister’s role is always important”.

(The Deputy Prime Minister once took responsibility for substantial Government departments, but now merely chairs worthy sounding Cabinet Committees which seem to achieve very little).

Verbal “cat and mouse” (sorry to mix metaphors!) went on for some time until he was asked if the Prime Minister was disappointed with the UK’s lowly position in the Eurovision Song Contest and if he thought that “could be blamed on international politics?”

He replied: “I had a little bet with myself that someone would ask this question. Like many people with children, I have to sit through it. Surely that is suffering enough.”

Even these hard-bitten hacks tended to agree. Perhaps it was time to show some humanity and to leave him to get on with his job.

Conference closed.