"Jump off tower bridge," was one helpful suggestion. "Hurry up and lose his seat," another. Such was the tone of responses when The TES decided this week to ask its trusty online members to suggest new year's resolutions for Ed Balls. Yup, just as the mandarins in the Department were resting their weary feet on their desks, relaxing and enjoying a well-earned break (those diktats, regulations and missives don't write themselves, you know), teaching's virtual wags were limbering up for a satisfying burst of Balls-baiting. Mr Balls, who will no-doubt have spent this Winterval in his Yorkshire home with wife Yvette Cooper pondering the looming general election ("pass the electoral stuffing, please darling"), will almost certainly have been too busy plotting to worry about the suggestion that he should "replace himself with Estelle Morris".
If he had ventured onto the site, however, he may have had to avert the eyes of his three progeny when reading the suggestion that he should mark the turning of the new decade by doing something unprintable with his eponymous Balls. (It is worth noting at this point that the Department's Christmas party apparently featured the Balls-Coopers taking to the dance floor to perform a surprisingly passable jive.) This titbit reached TES Towers courtesy of one of the department's underlings who may have been saddened to read this suggestion from the web: "Ed should stop listening to the people who are licking his boots and come into the classroom for a while."
This, then, was the recurring theme from those who weren't forecasting a Labour electoral meltdown. For example, one eloquently called on Gordon Brown's mini-me to disown The Church of Latter Day Consultants. Of course this will almost certainly be one of the key features of 2010 as civil servants scrabble around to make cost-savings in their rambling bureaucracy rather than inflict public sector cuts on the chalkface. Or not.
Anyway, it is fair to say that festive cheer was not exactly high up the agenda of our webby friends as they debated which policy habit the secretary of state should attempt to kick. "Surely that's a bit like someone making new year's resolutions when the doctor has given them only months to live?" was another contribution distinctly lacking seasonal goodwill. Come on everyone; it'll be OK. Happy New Year.