2010 VISION: Well that's that then. Just me and Sandra left in the think tank, staring down both barrels of a very unpredictable 2010. Little Owen has been charmed away to a better life in the world of PFI literacy delivery. He has taken his accumulated holiday leave so he can celebrate by watching all the Star Wars films in some sort of special sequence. Our ex-manager Scary Paula surprised everyone with her appearance at the Departmental lunch like some demented Ghost of Christmas Sacked. She dropped in to tell us about her new job. Surprise surprise: Shadow Departmental Head Of Intelligence. She knows all the Department's weaknesses and strengths and I bet I know which she'll be concentrating on. Oh goodbye, 2009. Missing you already.
SPIN CROWD: Most Departmental staff are still on holiday, but of course the press office people are in, panicking as usual. All the papers are clamouring for Ballsy to go, saying he's the worst education secretary since the early 1970s, when Thatcher put an end to free school milk and Edward Heath. So now we have to play Spin The Minister, make Ballsy appear BETTER than any of his Labour predecessors. Feels a bit weird briefing against past secretaries of state instead of the current one. Sandra and I can do it though, obviously. We're professionals. We start by languidly looking up previous secretaries of state on the internet. There's no rush. It's not urgent.
HISTORY: Departmental Head Of Intelligence Stephen appears: "This Spin The Minister thing. You need to rush this through. It's urgent ... ". Apparently there are certain electoral advantages in demonstrating we've got the best man for the job since 1997. "We want a short summary for each minister. Harsh but fair. But harsh." OK, David Blunkett: rhymes with "flunk it". His three priorities were Compulsory, Literacy and Numeracy. Beardy dog-lover. Introduced tuition fees, academies and paternity tests. Can we say he lacked vision? Probably not.
REVISION: Estelle Morris: former teacher AND a woman, so easy target for journalists, plus looked like ageing member of boy band. Her most popular initiative: resigning. Charles Clarke: sulky walrus. Redefined higher education as a sort of reception class for globalised business. Ruth Kelly: Harry Potterish Catholic weirdo who championed trust schools and stigmata. Alan Johnson: former postman who didn't actually bother to turn up, just left a note saying he was briefly Secretary of State for Education while we were out.
RESULT: Which leaves us struggling a bit with Ed Balls. Negative characteristics: bully, idiot, close friend of the Prime Minister. On the other hand, he IS the current secretary of state, which makes him look contemporary. And - the clincher - he's not Michael Gove. Inchworm.