PC and goodwill to all

16 Dec 05
DAVID MEILTON | If you still think of good old Santa as an old fuddy-duddy dressed like a lumpy pillar-box with a tatty beard, prepare yourself for a shock.

If you still think of good old Santa as an old fuddy-duddy dressed like a lumpy pillar-box with a tatty beard, prepare yourself for a shock.

With help from my old friend Sir Gus O’Donnell, the revolutionary Cabinet Secretary, my new Departmental Capability Reviews, introduced only last month, are set to turn Toyland into a paradigm pioneer of efficiency. They will be independently audited by the NAO (National Arctic Office) so don’t talk to me about Toyland inspecting itself.

The challenge, so my management gurus tell me, is to push the envelope and provide organisational glue for the positive deviants to take us on a journey to baking the cake.

The appointment of Rudolph as my efficiency champion represents a step-change in the battle against those banes of the public sector, siloisation and stove-piping.

The other good news is that Santa is going interactive. On the new Santa Christmas channel press the red button for more information, plus puzzles and competitions featuring Santa’s own Christmas poker game — get a royal flush and win your very own Tessa Jowell London 2012 doll.

E-mail me from your computer on [email protected] — no more grubbing around in dank, dusty chimneys looking for indecipherable lists for me — or text Santa on 5088880.

Plans for Santa’s public sector Christmas party are progressing well.

The Westminster Strictly Come Dancing extravaganza will benefit from the inclusion of newly anointed Tory leader David ‘Mr Cool’ Cameron, who will dance the party waltz with Lord Jeffrey Archer. David Davis has retired hurt after his recent reverse and is unlikely to be seen again.

Number 10 adviser Lord Birt had signalled his agreement to take part in the cha-cha round (‘blue skies, smiling at me…’). But this has now been vetoed by Prime Minister Tony Blair on the grounds that Birt is an imaginary figure and is never seen anywhere, least of all before MPs at the public administration select committee.

The arrangements for my new production of I’m a Cabinet minister, get me out of here have had to be revised. David Blunkett made an unexpected exit (again) prior to the start of filming, so he will be replaced by Education Secretary Ruth Kelly. The bush-tucker challenge will be to survive being savaged by carefully selected Labour back-benchers.

In the Narnia pantomime, the Lion will now be played by John Prescott, the White Witch by Theresa May and the Wardrobe by Geoff Hoon, who has augmented his long-standing reputation as Mr Wooden in the new production of Leader of the House.

I am pleased to report that the NES (National Elf Service) is making substantial progress. Waiting lists are down and magic stairways are up.

In spite of Patricia Hewitt’s assurances, we have received some distressing memos from her department warning about deficits. Thus we regret to announce that the Toy Hospital will be unable to treat bonzo dogs with chewed ears, rocking-horses that have ceased to rock or King Kongs with bullet holes until their lifestyles improve.

Wee Gordon Brown has, we understand, tried to bag the 2018 World Cup, but it may be some time yet before he is allowed off the subs’ bench. In the meantime, I hope he will enjoy playing his new table football game against Boy George Osborne.

Incidentally, I am obliged to warn both Gordie and Lord ‘Red’ Adair Turner that any attempt to tamper with my final salary pension will end in tears for children everywhere.

There will be more presents for the estimable Sir Michael Lyons. Having had his review into council tax extended to all of local government, his remit will be broadened again in 2006 to take in Whitehall, John Prescott’s trousers and the prospects for the government’s soon-to-be-announced British Space Exploration programme. His report is expected in 2015 — and will be filed on Mars.

For staff at the Department for Work and Pensions, Santa is providing 100 new toy telephones so that they may miss fewer calls in 2006 than the 1 million they missed last year. They’ve been programmed with a selection of 71 automatic responses, 37 different pieces of music and — if all else fails — an incomprehensible guide to benefits packages. So no change there then.

Lastly I should remind all parents that Santa’s Toyland School is seeking academy status, as well as becoming a specialist school.

To maximise profits, it will also apply to become a foundation trust if Nurse Wibbly-Wobbly agrees to be co-opted on to the board of governors from the Toy Hospital.

If this is achieved, together with the anticipated funding from our private sector partners, fees will rise by only 150% for the next academic year — excluding top-up fees.

I’m sure you’ll agree that this will ensure a happy 2006 for all our children.

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