20th August 2010 at 01:00
The policy wonk whose heart isn't in it

MONDAY - A call from Scary Paula, departmental head of intelligence. There is growing disquiet within Team Gove over "our Lib Dem partners". That's what they call them in public anyway. "Those sanctimonious two-faced shits" is what they call them in private, but then so does everyone else. Anyway, of COURSE there's disquiet. Nothing new there, I tell her. The department's had serious reservations about The Cleggons since Day One. They just hang around the place moaning about everything: no desk space, cruel bullying, not invited to meetings about education policy ... Oh, Paula's hung up and left an answerphone message instead.

TUESDAY - The gist of the message is that I am required to SPY on the Lib Dems. Not those in the department, obviously, they're not going to cause any real problems. No, Paula wants me to infiltrate something called The Panini Group. It's a parental collective reflecting a wide spectrum of Lib Dem opinion: from the Army of Clegg in their suits, to vegan nihilists in balaclavas. I'm to find out exactly how they're planning to embarrass The Gove at their party conference next month. Excellent, I say, I'll disguise myself. It'll be the first outing for my false beard since Ballsy had that fancy dress party and I went as David Blunkett, only to discover he'd been invited too. Luckily nobody told him, though my hired labrador did try it on with his.

WEDNESDAY - I need to research The Panini Group. Luckily, I have a really good source: like any self-respecting entity they've constructed their own Wikipedia page. Turns out the group's name is even more self-deprecating than "Liberal Democrat" and humorously indicates how conscientious parents, like a panini, can be awfully posh. And easily split.

THURSDAY - Noisy meeting of The Panini Group. I am welcomed as the Lib Dem headteacher of a "progressive pagan" school near Totnes. Feel conspicuous - as it turns out I'm the only one in a beard, unless you count the fearsome woman in her home-made tabard. There is an animated discussion about free schools. The consensus is that they're socially divisive and an inefficient use of resources. A motion to this effect will be tabled at the party conference. There's a lot of ambient hatred for The Gove and Conservative education theory. I come away with a) some good news for Paula, b) hummus in my beard. Ugh.

FRIDAY - Scary Paula's pleased with my report. Lib Dems oppose free schools but will urge PARENTS not to use them. Result. Politicians and teachers expected to have moral code, parents are incited to be selfish. Outrage expressed, boat unrocked.

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