How green was my department

11th February 2005 at 00:00
The Diary is rather worried about the afforestation of the Department for Education and Skills. It began innocently enough, with the appointment of the verdant Stephen Twigg as under-secretary of state for schools in 2002.

He was duly promoted to schools minister in the New Year reshuffle, and replaced by another good stick, Halton MP Derek Twigg.

The pair have since been kindling many a fine scheme for the good of the nation's yoof. The Diary thought little of the coincidence of names until word reached us that Stephen Twigg's parliamentary private secretary was none other than Parmjit Dhanda, MP for Gloucester.

Now, young Dhanda's name has many translations into English, including the words for "opulence", "greed" and "wealth" in Hindi, but the translation that kept popping into this thicket of meaning was "stick" or, more specifically, the wooden staff wielded by the god Vishnu. Is this just another co-incidence or is the department being subverted by an arboreal conspiracy that makes Education Secretary R "Feeling on Yo Booty" Kelly's Opus Dei lot look like babes in the wood?

To complete the tree-hugging circle, the Diary recommends the department appoints Kerry Pollard, Labour MP for St Albans ("to pollard" is to cut back tree branches). He is keen. "If I was called I would be happy to go and pollard some of the dead branches around," Mr Pollard says, though after a pause adds:"But certainly not the Twiggs."

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