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Saturday, 22 January 2011

How Trade Unions Can Fight The Coalition and Avoid The Dance of Opposition.

I cannot help but feel somewhat responsible for events as I watch the car crash that is the coalition, unfold. I tend to watch the news whilst peeking from behind my hand these days, and I usually watch Question Time with a pronounced feeling of distaste in my mouth, and a grimace on my face.

I have to admit that I was one of those people who believed in the Liberal Democrats during the run up to the general election. I was taken in by Clegg and co when they made their empty promises, and I was taken in by the progressive facade of a party that was looking ever more popular in the face of a Labour party that had lost its impetus, lost its impact, and in far too many areas of policy and conviction, lost its way.

I was pushed towards the Lib Dems by a multitude of issues, including the 10p tax debacle, the continual erosion of worker’s rights, the blind lust exhibited by Labour towards big business, and the ‘parachuting in’ of party apparatchiks from solicitor’s practices in leafy London suburbs and into some of the most disadvantaged and forlorn constituencies in the land, including my home city of Hull.

What’s more, I even worked as a local organiser for the Liberal Democrats, liaising with the press and co-ordinating many electioneering activities within my former constituency of Littlehampton & Bognor Regis, and also leading online efforts to increase the Lib Dem vote. All this in front of the backdrop of ultimately false promises from the party leader, and a rising feeling that my natural habitat, the Labour party, had pushed me away, like so many others, as it lurched and lunged away from the very people it was formed to represent.

That said, I offer no excuses. I feel as if I have gunpowder on my hands as bullet after divisive bullet is fired at the working classes and the vulnerable by this ‘coalition’

I can only begin to clean my hands of that gunpowder by joining the struggle to turn Britain away from the abyss that is essentially a right wing pact that will, ultimately, choke off any last gasp of aspiration, protection, or advancement that sustains the most optimistic of organised, and unorganised workers alike.

It is obvious to me that the only sector that can realistically put the brakes on the downward slide of the ConDems, is that of the trade unions. I can’t help feeling though, that we are missing a trick here.

During the election campaign, Cameron called on the nation to join his ‘big society’ to become involved in the administration of the local communities and begin organising together in order to achieve local goals etc. We all know only too well that this is nothing but a cynical tory attempt to provide neighbourhood services (that we all pay ever more extortionate council tax for) on the cheap.

What many people are failing to appreciate however, is that Cameron and co are switching on the neon signs that are directing unions toward a massive opportunity that could trigger a resurgence in union membership and organised, community events that can only succeed in putting across our agenda to people who have never held a union card. And what is more, the tories created the very void that they are now calling on us to fill!

Think back to the days of Thatcher and Tebbit. The advent of the ‘right to buy’ scheme caused a seismic shift in the thinking of many within the British working class, putting to an end the self-identification of many as working class, and making some much more unwilling to withdraw their labour as a result of quite understandable commitment to servicing their mortgages, something which hitherto had not widely been an issue. This, combined with the systematic demonization of the trades union movement by the British press, the face-off between Thatcher and the NUM, and the inception of the anti-trade union legislation (instigated by the Tories, and sustained by Labour) ushered in an era of decline for organised labour within the United Kingdom.

Fast forward from the mid 80’s to 2011, and the void left by this era of decline is being made larger by the short sighted and damaging actions of the ConDems, and this constitutes an unprecedented opportunity for the trades union movement to reclaim lost ground, and also to inspire, agitate, educate and organise new generations of activists, members, officers, and ultimately leaders.

I believe that we are taking precisely the wrong decisions when it comes to fighting the ConDems. I believe that, instead of shunning the big society, and viewing it entirely as an object of ridicule, we should engage with it.

The TUC should be showing tangible leadership on this issue, preparing to work in communities, and giving the disadvantaged, vulnerable, and unorganised labour a reason to join us. The plans of the coalition include credit unions, community projects, local TV operations, library syndicates, employment services and many, many more functions that would previously be within the remit of local government and the civil services.

If we are to truly prosper for the long term, and increase our ability to educate workers against exploitation, against low wages, and against the very worst ravages of the globalised market, and once and for all move on from the climate within which low paid workers see themselves as helpless victims with no recourse to justice and fair conditions, we have to hold our nose, and do what most of us would find to be unpleasant work, keeping our eyes on the prize, and seeing past the fact that we are having to rub along with those who have either betrayed their promises to the poor and vulnerable, or simply fail to register their presence in the first place.

We need a network of community based bids being lodged to step into the void that was created by the worst excesses of Thatcherism, and which is only being made larger by the ‘big society’ rhetoric of Cameron and Clegg. The TUC needs to be organising member unions, co-ordinating resources and strategies and targeting these areas where once we may have been organising at foundries, factories and railway yards, and instead working with the local people to set up credit unions, help save local services, and give those hard pressed and forlorn communities something to believe in.

We cannot inspire people by rhetoric alone. In the hard times that are here, and which are set to get worse, people need action to inspire them. They need results and they need change, where it matters most, within their communities.

If we can be strategic, locally minded, and relevant to people in these poor communities we can help restore local pride, improve community services, reduce the feeling of disenfranchisement that so often leads to anti social behaviour, and provide a new link between the huge numbers of unorganised workers, and a trade union movement that can, once again be a true vehicle for change.

To achieve these new links, and greater opportunities for the recruitment and education of these people who desperately need a voice, as well as a cause to galvanise them, we need to look past basic tribalism and naked ideology, and be visionary.

The only realistic alternative to toryism is the Labour party. The jury is still out on Ed Miliband as leader. It is early days for him, but if he fails to inspire as Labour leader, the problems presented by the ConDemNation will only get worse by way of the Tories and Lib Dems solidifying their position as the governing parties, and that is something we all want to avoid!

We need to do what is right for the people for whom the trade unions were formed to defend and serve. We need the TUC to show true leadership, and not the usual horse trading and glad handing style of leadership that we usually have to make do with, and we need to seize this unexpected opportunity to reconnect with the poor, vulnerable and the unorganised labour within communities all across this great nation.

More importantly, we need to be grown up about what needs to be done, to resist the urge to retreat into the safe territory of protest banners, burning bins, and another generation of opposition politics, watching yet more of our young and exploited being thrown on the scrapheap by Cameron’s millionaire cabinet.

We need to work smarter as well as harder, and build community links, taking the opportunity to educate the young and the disenfranchised in a way that will inspire them to join the trade unions, and then ultimately join and progress through the ranks of the Labour Party ,to re-establish its identity as a political voice for ordinary, hard working men, women and children, for the vulnerable and for the exploited. To continue the fight against the very worst that Cameron and Clegg and their successors have to offer.

Most importantly of all, we need to wake up to the facts. We have a tory government. It may have a pale yellow fig leaf covering its intimate areas, but it is essentially tory. We can continue in the same historical vein of protests, slogans, and strikes. Or we can be aware of the world in which we are operating.

The court of public opinion is an important one, and we as trade unionists would do well to remember that. We need to play the ConDems at their own game, creating goodwill as well as new opportunities within communities.

Only when we have laid down roots in communities, and organised and educated those within them can we cement our own position as a movement, and as a foundation stone upon which the Labour party was founded.

The alternative is to continue to wave the banners, chant the songs and fill the streets with protest. Whilst there is nothing wrong with that at all, it completely misses the best opportunity we have had in generations. The coalition was brought in by deceit on the part of Nick Clegg. But it was also brought about by a thirst for change on the part of the public.

We need to be grown up about the challenge that faces us. We need to recognise that some things simply must be done differently if we are to achieve our aims as trade unionists and as progressives.

We need to realise that things do not always get done in the best way because they have been done the same way since 1880.

We have to adapt, to advance, to be strategic, and to change in a way that will allow progressive politics to set the political agenda in Britain rather than spend the next generation protesting about it.

Opposition creates fantastic folk songs, but it doesn’t make for a fantastic country. We need to stop writing lyrics, and start writing a more vibrant, democratic, open, inclusive and progressive future for this great movement, and more importantly for this great nation.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

The ConDem Overlord & The Search For Paradise Lost

"Has one been here before?" mused Call me Dave to his ever loyal butler, Clegg.

"Not sure M'Lord" replied the erstwhile bagman as he puffed and panted just a few steps behind the overlord, struggling to bear the weight of Cameorn's batfink style steel wings. Yanking at his black bowtie, Clegg scanned the surrounding area with his keen eye, desperate to meet Dave's ever whim, as ever.

The two stood for a second, digesting the dramatic scenery that met them. Wrecks and carcasses lay before them, filling this apocalyptic vista with the remnants of many an old battle, the ghosts of warriors past and defeated trudging forlornly through the heavy mud that lay beneath the cashmere rug upon which Dave Cameron now stood.

Clegg nervously flicked his gaze between the rug, which he only just managed to get down in time, and the scorched remains of..what was it exactly?..ah yes, that's right, its the charred carcass of the miners union!

Diverting his eyes away from that mangled heap of working class hopes and aspirations, he again surveyed the rug that protected his master's designer shoes. Breathing a sigh of relief he congratulated himself on his timing. He has learned the hard way after last time. My, how David cameron had lambasted him! Those shoes must be clean! An Etonian cannot suffer the indignities of mud, except when playing rugby!

For a second, Clegg considered which was worse, Rugby, with its garish proximity to the hoi poloi, or cleaning Cameron's shoes? He couldn't help but grimace as he remembered the last time he has been forced to clean the overlord's footwear. The taste of shoe leather and mud had plagued his pallett for weeks afterwards. Choosing the latter, he made a mental note of his undying passion for Rugby, and promised himself an election phot opportunity next time.

Putting it from his mind, he returned his loyal attentions to the musings of his leader, and moral compass, who was breathing in the smoky air as he gazed at the past glories of his predecessors.

Feeling much like a conquering Roman emperor, the overlord stood on the brow of a steep hill, its imposing height enhanced further by the piles of rotting P45s and decomposing union rights which bristled and crunched gently below his decadent cashmere rug. Dismissing thoughts of commissioning himself his very own roman-esque imperial helmet, Dave strained to focus on the plentiful images of ghoulish figures and long since pulverised organisations that scarred the land.

Far, far in the distance lay yet more twisted and burned memories, scattered amongst the rusting components of a paper press, complete with buckled 'Welcome To Wapping' sign. To a side, the ghosts of honour, truth and integrity sat around a rickety table, arguing over who would privatise heaven first when they die, Thatcher, or Murdoch?

Sneering at the sheer vulgarity of their comments, the overlord let out a sigh. Reaching into his poscket, he pulled out his brand new wallet. Stiff and shiny, it was a gift from the editor of the Daily Mail, freshly made, by the hands of chinese children workers no less, from the life chances of council estate babies. Holding it gently to his nose, he inhaled deeply, revelling in the tangy, yet musty aroma of damp classrooms and milk tokens.

Gently opening the wallet, he smiled broadly at the picture of Rupert Murdoch that lined the inside pocket. "I love you Rupy" whispered Cameron, slowly and carefully stroking the edge of the photograph.

His thoughts were interrupted by a wheezing and choking sound which seemed to be approaching from over the brow of the hill.

"Good Lord Clegg" he mused, slipping his wallet casually back into his inside jacket pocket "We must have privatised the grave diggers! You wouldn't get a nationalised grave digger being that efficient! We haven't even delivered the kill shot yet and they've managed to get the NHS to the graveyard!"

"No M'Lord" replied Clegg, stepping forward and brushing some loose criticism from Cameron's shoulder. "It's just Andrew Landlsey. He's still recovering from the, er, holiday incident with the ambulance service"

Peering at the brow of the hill, Cameron and his butler watched as two scrambling figures appeared and moved closer, angry words bouncing back and forth between the two as they walked. It was indeed Andrew Landlsey. The overlord could not hide his admiration for his Health Secretary. Even when his trachea was blocked nearly to the point of bursting, and even when his throat was bruised to the point that he was bandaged, looking like a, ahem, "laydee" in a suit, he still managed to maintain that air of self serving and oblivious superiority that got him elected as a tory MP.

But who was the other? Why, it was none other than Michael Gove, Cameron's Education Secretary, and unofficial child fire safety figurehead!

The two men were still bickering furiously as they stopped in front of the overlord and his manservant.

"I say, what's the breeze chaps?" asked Cameron as he snapped his fingers.

Clegg rifled through the leather bag that hung at his side, producing a highly polished bottle of panda pop. He gave the lid one last polish before opening the bottle and passing it to the overlord. Ever since he was derided by many as being a 'senseless posh tw*t' he declined to drink from a glass. It made coffee drinking somewhat hazardous, but it was worth the effort.

"This twerp!" exclaimed Landlsey, rubbing at the bandage on his neck. "Why did you grab me? I usually pay before I get tied up!"

Gove fidgetted nervously. The gaze of his emperor always made him feel somewhat uneasy. Feeling his skin redden he fumbled with his now sweating hands.

"I'm damned sorry old bean!" replied Gove, brushing the dirt away from Landsley's tie, the deep blue of the weave disrupted by the smeared stain of the blood of a commoner. "I thought you were a child!"

"I was kneeling down!" exploded Landsley. "I stepped in some socialism and was wiping it off my shoe!"

In a far corner, a football match was taking place. Not being someone who even understood the virtues of football (after all, it isn't world cup year) Cameron studied the players as they rushed to and fro, resplendant in their overalls and safety boots, the respective fans of the Glasgow and the Belfast shipbuilders chanting songs at each other in a language that Dave just didn't even begin to understand.

Tearing himself away from his thoughts as to why football songs aren't written in latin, or at least in PR jargon, Cameron took a swig of panda pop as he spied Winston Churchill confronting the participants of the General Strike of 1911.

His chest swelled with pride at the thought of all those disgusting, lazy, greedy workers being faced down and broken. Not being able to resist, he glanced in the direction of the Liverpool dockers, smirking at their demise as he returned his loving gaze back to Churchill.

"Another brilliant example of a Liberal doing the right thing!" Gove spoke nervously, gulping as his sentence came to a shaky end. He looked at Andrew Landsley for support.

Landsley was engrossed in his reflection, checking the neat sky blue of his custom made throat bandage in the screen of his smart phone. Yes indeed, the i-twat application truly was worth an expense claim! Looking up blankly, he scrambled to recover as his colleague cowered in the icy glare of his emperor.

"Absolutely Michael!" agreed Landsley, rather too enthusiastically as he took one last glance at himself before returning the phone to his inside pocket.

"A fine liberal who became a great tory, no less!" Landsley adopted his best salesman smile. The overlord pondered these words for a moment, gazing at Churchill mid rant, and then glancing furtively at his loyal servant Clegg, who was busy speaking into a dictaphone.

"What are you doing Clegg?" demanded Cameron.

"I'm dictating the Lib Dem manifesto for 2015 M'Lord" replied Clegg. "Do you want to hear?" Clegg urgently pawed the buttons of the dictaphone, rewinding and then pressing play. "Whatever Dave says..Whatever Dave says.." spoke the disembodied voice within. Clegg stopped the dictaphone, and stood eagerly, awaiting his master's opinion.

Cameron rolled his eyes, and returned his attention to Messrs Gove and Landsley. Landsley had just given Gove a 'wet willy' and was slapping his thigh raucously at the sheer hilarity of it all.

Gove was trying to conceal a pet lip as he rubbed at his sodden ear with one of nanny's hankerchieves.

Becoming angry with himself for daring to compare Clegg to Churchill, the overlord snapped at his minions.

"What do you want??" Both men lurched back in recoil.

"Well, its this whole, NHS thing" said Landsley, examining the leather of his shoes.

"What about it man?" replied the overlord, his patience at such trifling matters wearing ever more thread bare.

"Well, how does it work exactly?" asked the Health Secretary.
Cameron sighed, his shoulders sagging heavily as he caressed his sweating quiff with a chamois.

"Andrew, we've been through this" he said, adopting his best calming voice. He stepped forward and put his arm around Landsley's shoulder. Clegg bridled with barely concealed envy.

"Instead of all those squillions of pounds being given to the health service to keep all those 'people' alive" He motioned with a flick of his hand at the football match that raged on in the corner and the foreign chants that were thrown up. "We take those squillions of pounds, and we give it to the doctors" The Health Secretary's face lit up in recognition.

"So we give it to the doctors so that they can give people a better service! Brilliant!" Landsley clapped his hands together" Cameron's eyes rolled again.
Removing his arm from Landsley's shoulder, he slapped the back of his head, causing the Health Secretary to stumble back, his expression one of disappointment as he rubbed his head. Gove smiled smugly as he continued to rub at his damp ear.

The overlord readied himself to speak before stopping himself abruptly.

"Clegg! Hand me my Thatcher pen! Now!"

"Right away M'Lord" Clegg prodiced a thick nibbed red pen from his master's leather play bag, and handed it ceremoniously to Cameron.
Taking one step forward, Cameron scrawled the words NO! NO! NO! across Landsley's face, before handing the pen back to Clegg, who replaced the lid, and polished it with his cuff before returning it to the bag.

"Allow me to point out that we are tories, Andrew" said Cameron quietly and calmly as the Health Secretary licked his hand and scrubbed at the red ink that covered his face. "As tories, we do not do things for the greater good. We do things that will benfit us, earn us the undying love of the gutter press, and keep our friends and family rich. That is all" Landlsey accepted Gove's silent offer of a handkerchief, and stared unblinkingly at Cameron as he continued.

"What we do, is we move those lovely squillions of pounds away from the filthy socialists in the health service, and we give it to the doctors who we play golf with, and who we went to school with who will use it to make themselves, and us, even richer. We only tell people that we want to make the health service better so they will leave us alone and not infect us with their working class, dirty logic. Do you understand?" Landsley nodded, still not blinking. Gove clicked his fingers in front of the Health Secretary's eyes.

"That's politics Andrew" said Cameron, with a dark smile.

"It's lying!" said Gove, before clamping his hand over his mouth, his eyes wide with fear.

"Same thing!" said Clegg as he manicured the overlord's left hand.

Cameron fixed his servant with an evil look, before melting into laughter. The 3 others eyed each other uneasily before following suit, laughing louder and harder in an attempt to outdo each other in the eyes of their emperor.

The laughing was interrupted by the sound of heavy breathing and tired footsteps. The four of them looked at the brow of the hill, where Philip Hammond, the Transport Secretary was manhandling Eric Pickles, the Local Government Secretary back to his feet. He had stumbled, and mud was coating the knees of his ill fitting boiler suit.

Both men trudged over to where the other 4 were watching from, Eric taking off his helmet and wiping his brow with his glove.

"What's going on?" asked Hammond, his suit immaculate despite being knee deep in composted transport proposals for the last few days.

"I was just explaining to Andrew the principles of being a Tory Health Minister" replied the overlord with a dismissive wave of the hand. "He still thinks that he's there to provide care for normal people!" Both men shook their heads in disbelief.

"Did you find it all?" enquired Cameron.

Hammond shook his head. "We found many parts of it, but it was smashed into that many pieces, there are still many parts that we just can't seem to find.

"What you looking for?" asked Gove, his eyes following the outline of a young boy scampering across the horizon, his face blackened from the soot of a thousand chimneys.

"British Rail" replied Hammond cheerily."We managed to find collective bargaining, but we still can't find Research & Development, or any management competency"
Cameron considered the news for a moment.

The overlord was about to ask why it was that Eric Pickles was there. Choosing to ignore the fact that Pickles was eating, and that whatever it was had legs, which were still moving, he decided against it.

"Keep looking then. There has to be some competent management in all that mess somewhere. Don't worry so much about R&D though, and throw the collective bargaining thingy back. Oh, and Phillip."

Cameron leaned forward. Hammond reciprocated.

"Make sure it isn't found again. Make it go away" Hammond nodded approvingly, a menacing grin creeping across his features. The two men scuttled away, disappearing over the brow of the hill and into the sprawling mess below.

Watching the two men disappear from sight, the 4 men turned toward each other.

Cameron was late for an interview with The Sun and was worrying about whether he'd have time to get his trousers perfumed before the bottom kissing began. Clegg was wondering whether he would get to hold the perfume bottle this time. Andrew Landsley was in the midst of a eureka moment. Gove was stood next to a nearby bonfore, scaring the children away from the flames.

"I get it!" exclaimed Landlsey, his face shining with self congratulation.

"Get what?" demanded the overlord as he commanded Clegg to check his watch for him.

"I can't believe I missed it!" he shouted. Gove glanced across for a second. He was in the middle of smiling at some small children, who in turn were in the middle of running away in terror.

"I thought that the railways were privatised to enhance the experience for the passenger, and to attract inward investment and end decades of chronic underfunding and political tampering"

Cameron pinched the bridge of his nose in despair.

"But all along it was to break up the power of collective trade unionism, provide job opportunities for old school chums and failed tory MPs, and to give our families a good return on the stock market at the expense of safety and the travelling public!"

"Goodo!" shouted Cameron, slapping Landsley enthusiastically on the back. "You took your time, but you got there!"

"A bit like a privatised train after track access charges!" quipped Gove from the fireside.

"Good One Michael!" smiled the overlord.

The three chums shared a laugh for a second, drinking in the social superiority of what they were about to foist upon the parts of society that cannot afford private health care.

The moment was shattered by a shrill beeping. All three men turned to Nick Clegg, who was rifling through the pockets of his dress coat. After a few seconds he produced an alarm clock. Despite his best efforts, it would not stop beeping.

Gove and Landsley looked questioningly at the overlord.

"Its Clegg's latest project" he explained. "Says he wants to be at one with 'alarm clock Britain'"

"Can't he take the batteries out of alarm clock Britain?" asked Landsley, mockingly.

"Too late!" replied Clegg, tossing the alarm clock over his shoulder. "With the VAT increase and the fuel escalator, George Osbourne beat me to it!"

All 4 men laughed heartily, slapping each others backs and bending over double at what they were doing to the people who made them and their families rich.
"Sometimes, I think you're more tory than I Clegg!" spluttered Landsley. Glancing over at Churchill, Clegg smiled to himself. "Never a truer word Landsley, never a truer word"

Saturday, 1 January 2011

The ConDems; A New Year Digest, A Christmas Sketch.

Wow..its 0531 and I have officially beaten the sunrise! Before you all break into spontaneous applause and leap from your seats, I prey you remain sat for a while longer.

Its the 2nd day of 2011 and I have been thinking about how different things are from this time last year.

Sure, there are many examples of change, and of how we as a nation are currently wallowing in the delightful waters of change, suckling contentedly at the engorged nipple of progress, or whichever way you want to put it, but before I plunge headlong into a ski jump of sarcasm and caustic review, the greatest example of change is laid just a few feet away from me, and doesn't have a care in the world..

My beautiful boy Harry has quite literally taken the sum total of my life, put them in a washing machine, and hit the spin button...and I love it!

I could never have guessed this time last year that I would actually feel joy at the inception of broken sleep, exhaustion and constant worry.

Then again, I would never have guessed that Man City would be second in the Premier League, or that a Lib Dem would be Deputy PM. (The abbreviation for this job is DPM, or Dodgy Puppet/Marionette, for your future information)

Yep, alot has definitely gone down in 2010. There are markedly differing challenges for us all in the coming year. Confusion is the only sovereign that reigns with any true authority, as people and events confound our preconceptions.

I'm glad to say that I am not the only one who is working hard to come to terms with the strangeness that 2011 will herald, in a crazy new twelvemonth..look at what has happened, at least in my own questionable version of reality during the christmas season..

The price of food, petrol and houses are rising almost in line with bankers bonuses, and the government has reacted to claims that it is anti union by embarking on a large scale issue of coal stained scarves and caps for workers to doff whenever a boss passes near.

The Prime Minister has reassured the masses that he too feels the fiscal pain of government policy by using instructing his staff to carry his shopping back from John Lewis in Tesco carrier bags, and the chancellor has demonstrated his commitment to austerity by settling for a 5 star ski holiday in a wet snow resort instead of powder, and agreeing to use egyptian pharoh papirus, and the CV's of working class public sector workers to wipe his arse instead of £50 notes.

Bless those crazy tories and their socialist ideals!

Meanwhile, DPM Nick Clegg has managed to sidestep a potentially embarrassing banana skin..

The Lib Dem leader was due to address an annual meeting of retired steel workers and coal miners in Sheffield which he was expected to say that he was heavily in favour of coal mining, steel working, the wearing of white socks with suits, and the export of massed brass bands. In a strange twist however, he broke down in front of the audience, sobbing in a corner as his strings draped around him limply, shrieking that he despised his adopted family, and blamed them for everything in his career that had gone wrong. In response, Margaret Thatcher's spokesman refused to comment.

The following day, he was scheduled to attend a family reunion with his foster brother (call me) Dave, during which he was supposedly going to regail the packed hall with tales of how he blamed the ills of our great (one) nation upon those wet nosed, limp wristed lefties who wasted their lives with contemptible activities such as; coal mining, steel working, and engaging in the performance of brass band music.

A comment about how ridiculous white socks look with a suit was met with confused expressions from the faithful. One befuddled attendee was heard to comment that Clegg must be getting his wires crossed (strings tangled) as any self respecting conservative would simply have his valet's visa cancelled should such a faux pas be committed.

The DPM's new family though were very welcoming of the prodigal son despite his mixed introduction, throwing their arms around him and ushering him to the bar where they kept him stocked up with real ale (Black Sheep, allegedly) whilst he led a rousing sing song of anti student ditties, before dedicating a table thumping rendition of 'Loser' by Beck to his former compatriots in the Liberal Democrats.

The DPM has of course, had a rough time of it of late though, and it would seem he has learned his lesson. He has disclosed to aides that his main election strategy for 2015 is to launch a campaign where he gets all of his MPs to join him in signing a pledge not to imprison kittens and to condemn the actions, and uniforms of Adolf Hitler.

Meanwhile, reports that the 'Crazy Cat Bin Woman' and Prince Harry have each sent off Lib Dem application forms remain unconfirmed..

The coalition however, are pressing ahead at breakneck speed with various policies which will, they believe, change Britain, and redefine party politics.

In the latest show of cross party co-operation and coalition unity, Liberal Democrat members across the UK are signing up to join local fox hunts, now believing that the activity was only cruel previously because Gordon Brown has one eye and looks like he's made out of baked blu-tack, and Labour invented paper cuts.

Simon Hughes MP, the Deputy Lib Dem leader who was until recently against fox hunting before an unfortunate accident involving increased publicity and a ravenous ego, has been appointed by the coalition to work alongside foxes to try and convince them that hunting is actually in their best interests..

Elsewhere over the seasonal period, the Health Secretary Andrew Landsley MP narrowly avoided coming a cropper in a frightening medical emergency that managed to not only terrify those present, but also to demonstrate the wonders of intergrated government.

Mr Landsley had been basking in the afterglow of the union's appreciation, following him offsetting job losses in the NHS by employing some health workers to feed him grapes, fan his tepid brow, and lick his toga clean. Mr Landsley was exhausted coming into the holiday season, having launched his NHS reforms, introducing market style privatisation to the health service on the back of the, quite obvious, success of private railways..

At the same time, the Schools Secretary Michael 'Child Catcher' Gove MP has embarked on an innovative new scheme to prevent truanting. He has commissioned thousands of life sized replicas of himself and has positioned them at bus shelters, railway platforms and sweet shops up and down the UK in an attempt to frighten schoolchildren back into school, or at least into the Conservative Party. A mini gove product is also being considered which would sit atop the fireplace and reduce the amount of toddlers burning themselves by straying too near to living room fires..

In the meantime, the health Secretary's soft focussed coccon of self satisfaction and relentless rehearsals for looking chastened in reaction to commoners losing their jobs was cruelly shattered when he allegedly choked on some fois gras and baby meerkat pate and needed emergency medical attention.

Upon calling 999, Mr Landsley's valet was placed in a queue, and eventually connected to a call centre in Delhi, where a tender was issued for health care companies to bid for the contract to attend Landsley Hall and assist the Health Secretary.

Whilst the drama unfolded, the Local Community Secretary, and renowned saviour of community take aways and restaurants, Eric Pickles MP has instructed local councils that they must deliver more for less, and not only push up council tax bills.

In response, local authorites have entered into wodespread debate and brain storming as to how they can achieve this. An early fore runner in some areas is to put out traffic cones and set up contra flows and diversions, but not actually carry out any roadworks. This is something that has been trialled with huge success on the M1, and other major roads..

Back at Landsley Hall, Mr Landsley's staff were frantically trying to engage in a positive manner with interior and exterior partners and customers, by utilising the progressive, free, and efficient health service that the Health Secretary is so busily creating(sic).

Upon enquiring as to how long it would take for an ambulance to arrive, Mr Landsley's valet was informed that such data was commercially sensitive, and that a written statement would be made in the next parliamentary session.

After due diligence and scrutiny, a health care provider was awarded the contract to attend Landsley Hall, but was immediately referred to the competition commission following the same company being awarded a similar contract only hours earlier when a street cleaner was rushed to hospital with a suspected heart attack after receiving a revised pension estimate.

In the meantime Mr Landsley was feeling quite proud at how blue he was managing to turn, and decided to occupy himself by opening the evening postal delivery.

Disaster was avoided however with Mr Landsley was on the verge of hypoxia. Whilst hurtling headlong towards oblivion, the Health Secretary opened his council tax bill, the shock of which caused him to disloge and cough up his fois gras and baby meerkat pate, which he immediately shared out among his staff as a christmas bonus.

In other news, the Transport Secretary Phillip Hammond MP, and the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt MP have joined together in announcing an exciting new opportunity for commuters.

In reaction to the recent rises in the cost of season tickets, the two ministers have decided to work together by making it so that anyone buying a lottery ticket will win the following prizes; 3 numbers gets you a job selling teas and coffes from the on board trolley service of peak time trains, 4 numbers gets you a seat next to a blocked toilet in the carriage end of your morining service, 5 numbers gets you a 'walk on' priced return ticket and the jackpot gets you a season ticket..it is worth noting however that only players with 5 or 6 numbers AND the bonus ball will be eligible for a seat at peak times..

Back at the home of the health Secretary, the news broke of his timely recovery, and the contract for the health care provider to visit Mr Landsley was cancelled.

The company was subsequently paid £500,000 in recompense for the price of half of the diesel used whilst sitting in non existent roadworks.

I used to think that politics was a dogmatic and pointless exercise, dominated by also rans and bafoons who traded on the success of their parents or the accidental circumstance of their birth.

I hope that you can see why I may have changed my mind, taking into account the events whoch may or may not have happened over the holidays..

I send my best wishes and new year hopes to you and your families..may your god keep you safe, and may the new year bring to you all that you desire..