Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Party Time

During these austere times we are being bombarded with bad news from every quarter.  The economy is in the doldrums, unemployment is rising and Uncle Eric is still running local government  …… …into the ground.

Even the amusing spat between poor Grant  Shapps and John Humphrys last week on the Today Programme has not lifted the mood significantly in Eland House – though the rumours that young Nick was to blame over the confusion of booking poor Mr Shapps and not informing him, bought a smile to my cheeky chubby chops.

I therefore wish to lighten the mood. After all it is nearly the season to party so let us make this Winterval the best one ever. I plan to release an exciting cornucopia of Christmassy crazy creative blogs in the lead up to Winterval day. In the New Year I will be firmly seating myself back in the armchair and leading my shock troop of auditors into action again. So keep a look out for some krazy posts Chums.

So let’s get this party started with another FoI request.

Dear Chums

Last year Robert Neill responded to a question from Caroline Flint about DCLG Winterval Party:

“ As the Secretary of State indicated in his departmental press notice of 29 November 2010, the new Administration is committed to celebrating Christmas, including its Christian heritage. We should not allow politically correct Grinches to marginalise Christmas and the importance of the birth of Christ.

Ministers recognise that we live in frugal times due to the need to pay off the significant public deficit and national debt that the Government have inherited from the previous administration. But there is no need to play Scrooge.

In this context, a Christmas tree has been placed in the Department's reception at Eland house which has been provided at no cost to the taxpayer. This is in contrast to the previous cost of £1,037 for a Christmas tree outlined in the parliamentary answer of 12 November 2009, Official Report, column 849W.

Ministers plan to hold one small reception for senior DCLG staff to thank them for their hard work this year. Their work includes the abolition of bureaucratic Comprehensive Area Assessment and other local red tape, stopping the imposition of bin taxes and the unfair ports tax, and laying the ground for radical new powers for local authorities through the Localism Bill. The reception will be held in Eland House.”

Can you please supply details of the  planned celebrations for this year as I appear  not to have received my invite yet – an administrative oversight from Nick Sheridan-Westlake I am sure.

Yours ready to fight for your right to party

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Curry on laughing

I have just about stopped laughing at the next harebrained idea to come out of DCLG Ministers - have they been out drinking with Bobby Neill again? I did not think that Poor Grant Shapps  idea of solving the housing crisis by getting more people to live on Houseboats would not be beaten but my Uncle Eric has topped that mad idea with sheer incredibleness.

As Local Authorities are facing massive cuts to funding, youth unemployment is at over a million and the economy is as energetic as Andrew Stunnell on valium; Uncle Eric has come up with an amazing idea and is tacking the problem that vexes him most after weekly bin collection (remember he found £250 million for this pet project). The crisis this country faces at this monumental time is ... curry.

Uncle Eric is concerned that restrictions on the number of immigrants being allowed to enter the country will reduce the quality of his favourite dish. So he is setting up a Curry College (See:  Amazingly he tries to wrap this venture up with talk of social integration but it is self-interest and stuffing his podgy chops that concerns him most. So much so that I hear he is going to appoint himself Vice-Chancellor and personally test each and every dish that is cooked.

Time for a lovely poppadum but I think the lime pickles is off and are making me sick.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Get 'em out for the lads

This confession may come as surprise to my many readers. I have never invited my Uncle Eric to lunch or been invited by him – not even a candle- lit private soiree.  You can search his expenses and you will never see my name mentioned at all. Though  you are going to have to take my word for this as Uncle Eric seems to have to go himself in a bit of bother about declaring who he has met when and where (see: You can be sure that humble blog is not going to ever try to embarrass Uncle Eric.

Whilst I have never dined alone with Uncle Eric I have had the pleasure to share a dining table with him on two occasions. The first was in the highly subsidised DCLG staff canteen when Uncle Eric tucked into a hearty mixed grill. The second time was recently when I went for lunch at the wonderful  Spicy World near Victoria Station.  Uncle Eric followed me in minutes after I had arrived, no doubt similarly attracted by the All You Can Eat Lunchtime Buffet – the memory of this duel visit will bring tears to the owners eyes for years to come I am sure.

During this meal over a rogan josh, lamb bhuna, chicken tikka, etc, etc etc burp, etc, etc, belch, etc, etc … Uncle Eric and I shared a couple of appreciative grunts (no I don’t mean Nick and Giles) on the quality of the food. I did not expect that Uncle Eric would record the details of this epic lunch in the Members’ Interest but surely if it had been arranged by me and I was a influential lobbyist and it was at 5 star restaurant and I was paying and I we were discussing DCLG business , then perhaps we should know about it.

As we are on the subject of eating out -  Poor Grant Shapps has got a bit hot under his sweaty collar over the recent revelation that officials from Ordnance Survey claimed for a meal at ‘Hooters’ restaurant whilst on an overseas trip. A tired but apoplectic Mr Shapps said:

"Now we learn Labour officials squandered  hundreds of pounds not once, but twice at adult entertainment bars in America.”

I am surprised by these comments. Firstly I thought that staff working for OS are not Labour Officials but simple civil servants. Secondly I think everyone knows (apart from, perhaps, the The Daily Mail) that Hooters is cheapish, novelty chain of fast food restaurants that just happens to insist that the young waitresses wear t-shirts and shorts.  I do not think it bans children from dining and no one would describe it as adult entertainment.  I, for one, would be intrigued to know more about what Mr Shapps describes as adult entertainment (nudge nudge wink wink).

And less we forget ….. it was DCLG staff, under the current Minister, which splashed out a grand at a swanky burlesque bar (see Now how do I spell  - hypocrite? oh yes – t,w,a,t.

Here is my latest FoI:

Dear Chums

Grant Shapps describes Ordnance Survey staff whom made legitimate expenses claims as Labour Officials. (

He also describes the restaurant attended as an adult entrainment bar.

Can you please provide details on: 
Does DCLG now have a policy of describing civil servants as political party employees? Will it in future describe us hard working DCLG staff as conservative officials?

2)      Has DCLG compiled a list of fast-food chains that are deemed unacceptable to dine at based on a moral code developed by Grant Shapps?

Yours trying to get them out