Sunday, 30 October 2011

Drinking on the Job

With the recent revelations concerning Dr Fox and his unofficial adviser Adam Werritty, closer scrutiny is being applied to all special advisers in other Departments.  I understand no one believes that Nick is a close friend of any DCLG Ministers or actually a close friend of anyone at all. Sad but possibly true -  just ask Giles…

On to some exciting news. I am sure you all aware that it is British Pub Week. I intend to support this important event fully. Tireless workhorse Bob Neill has also been giving it 110% in discharging his Ministerial duties.  On 21st September he slipped out of the office in the afternoon and supped a few pints at the Black Dog in South London (

I think he developed the taste for the ale because a couple of weeks later he pulled a shift at The Partridge pub in Bromley ( Incidentally if you magnify the image and look at the reflections in the pint glass there is a ghostly image that looks like Nick Sheridan-Westlake sipping on a sweet sherry. I did not think we were allowed to drink alcohol during the working day – if we are then I think coming to work may become almost bearable again.

Latest FoI:

Dear Chums

Bob Neill has recently been spending a significant part of the working week in some of South London’s finest boozers partly to promote British Pub Week. I am hoping that DCLG will be encouraging all staff to fully support this important event. I am keen to do my part and willing to pull a 7 hour shift every working day.

Can you provide any communication to staff that encourages staff to celebrate British Pub week and a copy of any (temporary) change to policy on consuming alcohol during working hours? Or is there one rule for Ministers and one for staff?



Wednesday, 26 October 2011

iGoogle - uGoogle

Sorry I have not been about much. Some of you may know I pull a muscle down down in the basement (as in bowels of Eland House). I was trying out a few new yoga moves - never again. Normal service will be resumed.
Latest Freedom of Information request:

Dear Chums

On my way home tonight I was listening to amazing Dr Hook and I was reminded that being in love with a beautiful woman and cutting the deficit have some similarities - they are both hard. So I am in favour of the many creative ways to cut spending at DCLG. I particularly want to applaud the way the Uncle Eric has done away with the need for robust research or evidence to support his policies.

We all know that conducting research costs money -all those boring planning meeting stating hypothesissesesses;  months going out doing field work speaking to loons and weeks writing it all up with a heavy heart knowing that no one is going to read it. Plus there is the real danger than findings come out wrong! Crazy waste of money I am sure you would agree.

So it is reassuring that DCLG Ministers as doing away with unnecessary costly primary research and happy to trot out the line from any old Tom, Nick or Harry with an axe to grind.

Recently we have had some amazing facts about rat populations (courtesy of a pest control firm), research of weekly waste collection which was more useful as bin liner and the amazing Opera report on procurement (which is still attracting lots of follow up FoIs).

I note that yesterday in Hansard Bob Neil provided a written answer on trade union activities.

Our Bobby quoted from reports from the Tax Payers Alliance and The Sunday Times. Both of these sources perhaps support Bob’s viewpoint but I wonder if this is a case of selection bias? Was there other research, that was conveniently cast aside? And is this research actually robust enough to be worth quoting?

Can you please answer the following to help me understand?

1)      Did anyone at DCLG actually read and attempt to fact check either of these reports? If so who?

2)      Did anyone at DCLG review the extrapolation method that the Tax Payer Alliance so skilfully applied?
3)      Was a wider literature reviews conducted? If so please provide results

Yours googling,