Magazine article Public Finance

We Wish You a Miserly Christmas

Magazine article Public Finance

We Wish You a Miserly Christmas

Article excerpt

I am delighted to be taking over the job of sending out this seasonal message from my old friend Santa Claus, who has been summarily fired.

Dear old Santa was, I'm afraid, too old, too decrepit and, worst of all, too out of touch with the thrusting youth of today - unlike myself. If you are looking for a role model for the twenty-first century, be sure that I am it - as my good friend Gordon Brown will assuredly agree.

As they say in the NHS, it's the post that has been cut, not the person: I know that is so, because Gordon told me. The job has in fact been outsourced to our good friends EDS, and will henceforth operate from a call centre in Thailand.

However, I do have to inform everyone that deliveries may be delayed until at least February 29 due to unexpected IT problems.

Before we go any further, I would like to make it clear that anyone expecting goodwill and good cheer from this quarter has another think coming - Bah! Humbug! (what is Christmas without a catchphrase?). Gordon and I share a philosophy based on realism and prudence.

Indeed, I can reveal to Public Finance readers that - in order that the great British public can benefit even more from my unique expertise - my appointment as special adviser on economic affairs to the prime minister-in-waiting is imminent.

Gordon tells me he has a perfectly reliable replacement in mind for the Treasury when he takes over the top job. But he believes that young Mr Balls will need a trustworthy and experienced adviser to ensure that the remarkable successes of Gordon's tenure are maintained. Enter Ebenezer Scrooge.

My salary, which has been widely but erroneously reported as not unadjacent to £100,000, will be comfortably covered by the anticipated Gershon cuts at Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, which will entail the closure of all offices north of Carlisle and west of Shrewsbury and redeployment of staff into the agricultural industry.

And when by next Christmas the economy is in a leaner, fitter state, you will all know who to thank.

We have already made substantial progress. Look at the NHS, for example. Waiting lists for a hip operation are now shorter than for a table at some London restaurants.

There will undoubtedly be a few short-term blips, which may be portrayed by cynical and uncharitable commentators as disadvantages and I speak as one who has in the past suffered an unfairly bad press.

No-one is more admiring than myself (unless it be Gordon, of course! …

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