Tuesday, July 20, 2010


The smallest public tart

Over on much-improved (with added oppositional zing!) Malcolm Redfellow's Home Service there is a note about the latest invention of Britain's new reforming government.

Quangos are out! They have to be trashed for Better Government!

Instead we have "Offices":
  • the Office for Budget responsibility (main function so far, covering up the gaffes in the "emergency budget");
and now the bright, shiny:
  • Office for Tax Simplification (staffed by Tory re-treads and their Big Accountancy and Tax Lawyer friends).
Those who question whether such innovations are quite so advanced, progressive and "modern" should remember that Charles Dickens, too, was disenchanted by them:
The Circumlocution Office was (as everybody knows without being
told) the most important Department under Government. No public
business of any kind could possibly be done at any time without the
acquiescence of the Circumlocution Office. Its finger was in the
largest public pie, and in the smallest public tart. It was
equally impossible to do the plainest right and to undo the
plainest wrong without the express authority of the Circumlocution
Office. If another Gunpowder Plot had been discovered half an hour
before the lighting of the match, nobody would have been justified
in saving the parliament until there had been half a score of
boards, half a bushel of minutes, several sacks of official
memoranda, and a family-vault full of ungrammatical correspondence,
on the part of the Circumlocution Office.
That was back in 1855.

All we lack now is a public official caught with his finger in the smallest public tart.

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