Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Journal OF Lynton Charles

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Journal OF Lynton Charles

Article excerpt

DEPUTY MINISTER WITHOUT PORTFOLIO

Monday

I wonder how Red Dawn manages it. It's the weekly team meeting at the Treasury, and Ed is giving an excitable account of the risk of inflation in the US economy. I'm feeling a bit skittish, because every time he mentions the Fed, I picture an agent of J Edgar Hoover with a hat and badge. Like Eliott Ness, in The Untouchables. "Hello, Shorty," says Ness, his gun trained on the mobster's chest. "Are you coming easily, or do I have to put base lending rates up?"

Mr Brown grunts and takes copious notes in capital letters, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury strokes his chin sagaciously and says, "Ah, interesting," or, "I see, yes," every other sentence. Lolita chips in from time to time to correct her brother's statistics. And Red Dawn paints her nails an alarming crimson and - from time to time - looks up and around, as though waiting for insects to spear on her sharp nose. Does she ever, I wonder - when cleaning out the cupboards - come across old pamphlets entitled The Case Against Nato or Nationalise the Banks! with her name prominently attached? Some people you can ask; Red Dawn is not among them - you'd end up dead on the end of that nose.

As ever, we end by looking at who in government is asking for more money from contingency and who seems to be making successful savings in their department. Ed vulgarly refers to this session as "Wasters, Wankers and Wonders".

The main topic is asylum seekers and the mess we've been getting into down in Dover. Dawn reckons that it won't be long before the Witchfinder General comes seeking new dosh to disperse various Kurds and Kosovars round the country. She knows local government very well, since most of them were in Socialist Something-or-other with her, and she can see that they'll use the opportunity to dig extra cash out of an embarrassed Straw. …

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