Graham Fowler eavesdrops on a discussion between the Education Minister and his personal secretary

11th May 2007 at 01:00

Minister: How come this so-called eavesdropping is appearing in The TES FE Focus?

Secretary: Eavesdropping, Minister? Are we having trouble with window cleaners again?

Minister: No, it's more serious than last time. It is as though people have ready access to what is going on in the Department.

Secretary: It must be a leak then, Minister.

Minister: It can't be a leak; it isn't authorised.

Secretary: But that is what a leak means, Minister.

Minister: No, that is what a leak used to mean. Damned inconvenient it was too. Now we have centralised the leaking process, so we know what is going on. It is much more efficient.

Secretary: So I've heard, Minister.

Minister: Who told you?

Secretary: I couldn't possibly say. But such centralisation of even leaked information might be seen as rather Stalinist.

Minister: Certainly not; I know what Stalinism is like.

Secretary: Ah yes, your days in the union movement. You said so recently.

Minister: No, I don't mean that. I mean the Stalinist nature of working with Gordon Brown.

Secretary: But you said that was nothing like the Stalinist days of the unions.

Minister: And it isn't. Then we used to have control of something that was less important than we thought and hoped it would be. Gordon already has control of something really important - the national finances. And he lets you know it in every departmental funding round.

Secretary: That is not what you said either, Minister.

Minister: Of course it isn't.

Secretary: So why did you say Cabinet and funding negotiations were amicable.

Minister: Gordon told me to.

Secretary: Yes, I see, it is all becoming painfully clear now, Minister.

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