LITTLE HELPERS: Just our luck. The Department has been identified as a "key tool in our electoral toolbox" by Lord Mandelson. There's a belief that mock elections in schools might influence the way parents vote. Pester power. If kids can niggle their parents about not smoking, maybe they can nag them to vote Labour. On the face of it this is unethical, which is why the brief has ended up in our think tank.
WEIGHTING TIME: "Appropriately weighted" debates, suitable for VERY young children to have, and win, for the Government: THAT, says Departmental Head Of Intelligence Stephen, would be bloody useful. "Mandelson wants a more Jesuitical approach. Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man - all that. So let's concentrate on nursery and reception classes. Think LOYOLA ... ". Something is about to come out of Sandra's puzzled face, I can tell. I give her the special "shut up" signal by kicking her leg under the table. Just as well. After Departmental Head Of Intelligence Stephen leaves, she asks me what Loyola is. "Do they do those environmentally-sound cars?" Leg kick vindicated.
POINT BLANK: All afternoon we're struggling. How to get early years kids interested in politics? "Let's do one of those 10-point plans" suggests Sandra. I remind her that Departmental 10-point plans are always useless. She reminds ME that the Department likes them not because they have any intrinsic value but because "10 Points" sounds like a proper PLAN. It's easy for the ministers to read out in their speeches. Hmm. It IS true that young children know virtually nothing about party politics. Unless you count birthday tantrums.
IN THE RIGHT GARDEN: Our 10-Point Plan to shape pre-school political thought:
1. Shift allegiance from the Pinky Ponk (private airship) to the Ninky Nonk (crowded egalitarian train plagued by mysterious delays).
2. My First Nationalised Bank Shareholder Tippy Cup.
3. Put Gordon Brown's face on Gordon the Blue Engine, cheer him up a bit, re-colour him red.
4. Nursery Question Time, chaired by a Dimbleby toddler with liberal instincts.
5. All bouncy castles to be implicitly Labour, ie, no moats or duck houses.
6. Encourage competitive play, eg, Snakes Ladders, Tories Yummy Treats.
7. Free "fun balls" with Ed Balls' fun face on them.
8. Play School (requires adult provision of pastoral care and free lunch).
9. Stress the social justice credentials of the Power Rangers.
10. Rebadge the "naughty step" the "political wilderness".
LABOUR PAIN: Departmental Head Of Intelligence Stephen is pleased. But worried. Apparently Team Gove are working on their own "Totservative" initiative. So here comes "Baby Labour". With nappy change you can believe in. Inchworm.