Minister, cut the jokes about hairdressers

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Ah, the ministerial gag. Loved and loathed in equal measure. A tool that speechwriters employ to inject a semblance of humanity into their bosses’ prose.

They are designed to: 1) be mostly inoffensive; 2) induce polite/nervous laughter; and 3) be instantly forgettable.

One such utterance came from the education secretary, Damian Hinds, last week, in his flagship speech on technical education reform. This throwaway joke highlighted the issue of matching skills with the labour market need.

“We know, for example,” Mr Hinds began, limbering up to drop this belter, “that Germany trains around 11 ...

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