A sketch that didn't make the cut for 'The Tourist's Guide to an United Kingdom'. Enjoy. It is meant to be funny but only you can decide on whether it is or not.
A Composite of Errors
Members of a Democratic society (MoDs), Rocker (a media presenter) and...
a Government Official or spokesperson (Gov Off).
Rocker: Hello and welcome to Big Answers, the show that debates the topics that are trending the most and top of the agenda this week is “Do any politicians do what the people elect them to do?” With me tonight are highly opinionated members of the public and our so far unheard of obligatory Government Official. Well what do you expect when we have to economise on production costs? Who would like to open?
MoDs 1: The answer to that is no.
Gov Off: I really cannot agree with that statement because I think the evidence speaks for itself. The electorate always vote for change and whichever government is elected actually always delivers on that and always has in fact.
MoDs 2: Yes, yes that’s true. I think I’ll vote for you again!
MoDs 1: Oh do behave, we didn’t ask for this magnitude of cock-ups did you.
Gov Off: Well as a matter of fact, in a way you did.
MoDs 3: No I flaming well didn’t! I never voted for you toffs to cut benefits, cut social and medical services, cut legal aid, cut education, cut emergency services and the armed forces and I think I am right in saying no one else who voted did either!
Gov Off: Ah well, you see you didn’t explain that beforehand you see and not being endowed with the powers of telepathy we after due consideration and many a debate decided to go with the changes you did ask for.
MoDs 2: You see I told you they listened. If I may, I would like to elaborate by a way of a brief recap on what we did ask for, then we’ll see if the government did as we wanted.
Gov Off: Oh please do, I have a dinner meeting before collecting my new rubber stamp from the requisitions department, who also supply red tape in abundance. My old rubber stamp has simply worn away with over use recently. I can’t fathom why. It’s prompted an enquiry as to whether or not we should review the materials used for such items as their life expectancy, as it were, is woefully below expectations and falls short of what current demands are for such a device.
MoDs 2: Oh really? How distressingly annoying for you. I can hear my heart dripping as it bleeds for you.
Gov Off: Yes it is rather. Never mind though, in true nationalist spirit we soldier on. Do continue with your explanation of what we’ve achieved for you all even we politicians get frayed by constant criticism and little praise you know. We are but human after all.
MoDs 2: Aww bless you, you poor things. And thank you for this opportunity to speak for you. With a bit of luck it might persuade party members to consider me as a candidate for party membership. Here goes nothing.
MoDs 1: You said it, love.
MoDs 2: We asked for there to be economies to combat this financial economic crisis, so this government made cuts. We also asked for a reduction in foreigners being allowed in and this government is doing its best by making it as unpleasant as possible for them to enter our country unless they work like stink for less money than we are prepared to do and... we asked for benefit scrounging to stop and benefit fraud to stop too and I must say I am thoroughly delighted with how well poor people are now being forced into thinking about actually earning a living instead of expecting to get a free meal ticket for doing nothing for this country. And you’ve even gone as far as forcing the ill into work too before they get addicted to the idea that they have to be fit to work before trying for it. I think you’re simply marvellous. I really do.
Gov Off: Quite. We couldn’t have put it better ourselves and indeed haven’t it would seem. So you see, far from being unreasonable, uncaring people we, in government are merely doing exactly – absolutely nothing more and absolutely nothing less – than you, the electorate have requested. So it does come as rather a shock to all members of parliament, across all parties that so many of you are er... how does one put this, dissatisfied with the result. After all it’s not as if many of you were particularly interested in how we effected these changes that you put us in office for. Those that expressed an interest we did our best to listen to but with 60 million people to consider it at times, if only occasionally proves to be a tad confusing as to how to come up with policies, laws and legislation to win the popularity I mean approval of everyone at the same time.
I would further like to point out that we have made significant inroads into economising by making redundancies in the all our government departments by sacking, I mean sadly making redundancies in the Civil Service. Successive governments have done this in order to cut down on the volume of paperwork we would otherwise have to wade through.
Rocker: I see. So how does that work then?
Gov Off: Well, it gets filed in the appropriate department.
Rocker: Who files it?
Gov Off: A Civil Servant of course.
Rocker: Do these documents get read, summarised and acted upon?
Gov Off: Well, er... yes I believe so.
Rocker: You believe so, but don’t know.
Gov Off: Why would I know. I am only a token spokesperson after all.
Rocker: Do you have any idea about who actually deals with these files then?
Gov Off: By whoever is appointed to do so during any parliament of course.
Rocker: Who appoints these people and are they Civil Servants or Ministers?
Gov Off: In accordance with the democratic process we elect people to appoint. Sometimes it is more appropriate to appoint a Civil Servant, sometimes a Minister or their Private Secretary. The elective process is very simple, we drop random names in a hat and whoever loses gets appointed. With the streamlining of Civil Servants it actually increases the chances of an MP getting the appointed with this role. The point is that these files are always to hand in each department and are never lost for ease of reference.
Rocker: Without breaching security of course can you give us a rough idea as to where they are filed or how.
Gov Off: Er well let me see now. Yes, I think I can although I’m it’s not my personal area of expertise. Each department, as I understand it files all reports, correspondence and memos etc in especially designed and dedicated receptacles. They are called BINs for short.
Gov Off: Yes, it’s an acronym for Bureaucratic Information Notifications I believe.
MoDs 1: That explains a lot. Allow me to translate this time. They mean they file everything in with the rubbish which let’s face it is the only area of expertise politicians specialise in!
Gov Off: Oh come, come that’s hardly fair. Governments never throw anything away for fear of legal action against them! Governments may make laws but they still have to seem to abide by them at all times.
MoDs 1: Hang on a minute. Just how many honest workers in the Civil Service did you make redundant.
Gov Off: To be quite candid with you, I’m afraid I don’t know. I do however know that the target is to get it down to only have one Civil Servant.
Rocker: For each department?
Gov Off: Ultimately for being responsible for the entire administration of all government departments. A response to calls for not wasting so much time and money in bureaucratic red tape and a means to ensure that long term only elected MPs will be responsible for admin. Frankly the current batch care little as they have no intention of reading every email whatsoever, instead they take samples by dipping in and out once a week though there are rumours this will be reduced or streamlined down to once a month. But to answer your question as accurately as I can, I believe the current figure for the total number of full time government administrative Civil Servants is about 200. This has been achieved thanks to the marvel of automated systems which are programmed to back up all correspondence so that nothing is ever lost as it might be useful one day.
Personally in response to the demand for further savings I am only on an apprenticeship scheme earn the same amount per week as anyone else is despite having a weekly allowance from my extremely wealthy parents which amounts to the equivalent of what some people currently will earn in an entire year. The principle of my being paid something for my work was deemed politically correct and in order to appease my father who for some reason developed a nervous condition involving his eyes rolling every time Mama and I entered into conversation, I can’t fathom why. When one has a job to do, one has to abide by the boundaries of that remit. Next year I might well find I have the opposite remit to perform. Not having a crystal ball one finds one really can’t comment further on that except to add that one can always try to choose a job that one enjoys. I happen to enjoy paradoxical and conflicting roles which makes me rather employable.
Rocker: Well what do you know, an honest spokeperson for the government. I have a feeling your employment status will be changing rather rapidly after those revelations.
Gov Off: I look forward to it. I rather enjoy variety of experiences don’t you?
Rocker: Well I think your wish will be granted on that one. Leaving that aside for this debate, but I’m sure it’s a subject for some Parliamentary Ombudsman or other to debate with if not the UN and a psychiatrist, let’s get back to the question for today. Do the people think that our government do what we elect them into power for?
MoDs 2: Yes!
Rocker: Wow, someone who actually believes they do. Who’d have thought it eh? Is there anyone else or are you a lone voice in the wilderness of a hurricane set to blow your delusions away?
MoDs 4: Yeah this government is ok cos I want a return to the good old days where you can be racist, sexist and as prejudiced, abusive as you like without any meddling from the knob heads in government. So long as you’re not caught bothering anyone, what business is it of anyone else’s anyway, eh? I mean that’s what our illustrious leaders have always done anyway innit?
Gov Off: I don’t think that’s in any democratic party’s manifesto yet, but if that’s what the majority of the people of this country want, your wish is very much our command as it were. I’ll make a note of that for MPs to debate when next in session. Never let it be said that we in government are not open to radical ideas.
MoDs 1: You ignorant, short-sight prats, of course it’s not what the majority of people want!
MoDs 3: Hear, hear! Heaven forbid that we return to those days. We need progress not regression.
Gov Off: Oh really? What a pity I thought we were onto something easy to achieve for a change. How disappointing because you see the crux of the problem that you plebs, I mean the proletariat... I mean the electorate don’t seem to grasp is this. To fulfil your ever louder demands for change, ever more rapidly, for things like more money in your pockets, for being rewarded so that everyone can be millionaires (at which point, I can assure you as I speak from personal experience, you won’t want to pay 40% income tax) there have to be sacrifices along the way. Money you see does not grow on trees. At least not yet, but your government, already anticipating that request has already allocated billions to try and make it do so.
MoDs 1: You’re off your trolley you are! All of yer are! Stark raving mad!
Gov Off: Be that as it may, and may I point out that the electorate voted us into power unlike in communist countries where they largely accept that someone has to lead for better or worse and therefore just leave them to it, sort of. They have just as many extremes from bright ideas on what’s best overall for their people but without the encumbrance of voting who leads them into chaos. As I was saying, I feel compelled to repeat a former statement. Money as yet does not grow on trees so in a democratic nation the electorate quite simply have a choice on what they would like their chosen government to spend limited funds on. If the voters don’t like the changes we have brought about they are at liberty to express that by voting for different changes, but no matter who gets into office next time, that government will do exactly what you demand of it, though probably not in any way you would wish it. We thought by now you might have evolved wit enough to have worked out that this is how all governments work and have worked since democracy began, but apparently you haven’t. The reason for this style of leadership is very simple and comes in the form of a well known maxim that you might of heard of “you can please some of the people some of the time, but you cannot please all of the people all of time.” All democratically elected politicians do is try to please enough of you enough of the time to vote them into office. And like lambs to the slaughter you always vote for personality above content, for who speaks more eloquently above what they are actually planning.
MoDs 1: Well I know what changes I will be campaigning for before the next election then. I want a change in bleeding attitude from politicians for a start.
MoDs 3: I quite agree, but would you mind not swearing please.
MoDs 1: Sorry darling, but they fair make my blood boil they do. I want progress not a return to previous centuries when it became a topic for debate about what to do about the stench from unsightly poor people cluttering up the street, quite aside from the nasty diseases they spread. Did the 20th century not happen or something? Was the last 100 years for nothing then?
MoDs 3: Well put old bean! Bravo! Well put! I mean surely it is better to spread what little funds we have more evenly and to use it more prudently after all we are an innovative nation are we not? We’ve still got pluck enough to do this haven’t we? And instead of radical changes with every new government, couldn’t we just tweak things more gradually? I mean one never knows whether one is coming or going these days, does one?
Gov Off: Dear lady, you encapsulate the dilemma of many a government with that statement but the reality of going with sensible measure such as you propose is that they are never popular enough to win enough votes.
MoDs 4: Nah, why bother when you know dam well it won’t last. History love, repeats itself. Let chaos ensue, dog eat dog. That’s the natural order of things and mankind has simply meddled too much. High time you accepted it and your rightful place as a chattel to your masters and betters.
MoDs 2: Good grief, who let him in? It’s like some throw back in time.
Gov Off: If I may interject again to reinforce that last point...
Gov Off: If I may interject again to reinforce that last point...
Rocker: Oh must you? Lord how they like the sound of their own voices. Try and be brief pal.
Gov Off: Sadly unless the people of this great nation choose by democratic majority to abandon or at least streamline what they demanded of their government previously to change tack again to reverse what has been done in this parliament, and unless the majority of the public vote for such sensible measures as investing in all services more evenly it isn’t likely to happen. Indeed thus far, if memory serves me correctly, the electorate never have made such a demand of any government in the entire history of mankind so I am pretty confident it won’t do so before the next election either.
MoDs 1: Oh I see, it’s our fault! I knew it. I just couldn’t figure out how.
Gov Off: Oh it’s your government’s fault too in equal measure I think, but there is another factor which tends to upset the apple cart with tedious regularity and that is the unforeseen. From hostile acts from other nations to natural disasters and calls for our assistance from many desperate people aboard – all require considerable amounts of time, energy and money, tact and diplomacy to safeguard this great country from all manner of threats including the threat of diminishing its reputation and investments beyond its own shores. Unless and until we can nationally and globally agree to kerb our appetite for our own betterment at the expense of others it will always entail that others go without unless of course everyone chooses to voluntarily donate as much as possible to the less fortunate among us. Governments could tax you more heavily but all you do is vote them out when they do that. The overwhelming evidence suggests that you don’t want that and that’s why we in government do our utmost to follow your example and your wishes. We happen to be rather better at it than you because we’re in power and you’re not and have the advantage of knowing how to wangle systems or change them to suit our personal interests rather favourably. It’s a career path I highly recommend assuming you can the last the distance of continual criticism that is goes with the territory along with all manner of slur campaigns to discredit you from the media, sometimes justified, sometimes not. The perks long term don’t tend to be bad and just like any of you who wish to be remunerated handsomely for the level of responsibility for others you undertake, we are no different. But, take heart for this government has been investing on your behalf in all manner of automated systems and environmental safeguards to make the threat of the demise of the human race and indeed the entire planet is as pleasant as possible. For example we have given a shockingly large amount of money to science in the hope that through research and development money will one day actually grow on trees. There was a proposal to change the format of cash into apples and other fruit but the feeling was that there was a high risk of fraud thanks to the arrival of genetically modified foods and the advent of 3D printing so the idea was squashed and made into a smoothie instead as a result of a recycling pilot scheme your government thought it would test drive.
Rocker: Are you serious about that? I mean, you didn’t seriously consider that proposal did you?
Gov Off: Well we are obliged to consider even the most unorthodox ideas at times, never more so than in a financial crisis or when we happen to be caught up in a World War or two.
MoDs 1: You’re sick you are. In the head.
MoDs 3: I fear I have to agree, you’re all as sick as parrots and squawk just as much.
MoDs 1: No, it’s worse than that it’s more like a disease that spreading.
Gov: The cause being the electorate.
MoDs 1: Bollocks it being our fault, you’re like, like... I dunno, like poisonous toadstools pretending to be healthy mushrooms. We just want enough stability to get on with our jobs but you can never leave well enough alone for anyone to do anything sensibly without changing everything. You know it well enough alright but just won’t admit it is all. You’re crazier than a box of frogs.
Gov Off: My dear chap, I think you’ll find we all are now. Who is more insane, those who are crazy enough to attempt to lead in the way that we do or those who vote known mad people into power? say we interfere with your work, well frankly the electorate dictate through continually meddling in ours. I would recommend adopting the attitude of “If you can’t take a joke, you really shouldn’t have joined.” It’s a mere palliative of course but it does allow one to continue in ones obligations according to our respective remits. Or to put it another way become a fungi! Oh I say, I think that’s rather good.
Rocker: And a very old joke.
Gov Off: Oh is it? What a shame, I thought I’d become a wit at last. Never mind, practice makes perfect. One day I might become a fungi indeed I could quite possibly do so if I get buried when I pop my clogs.
Rocker: Indeed. Well that really does give everyone plenty of food for thought I think. I’d like to thank our contributors for their candour (that’s honesty to ordinary folk). Remember you heard it all here first, but that’s all we have time for tonight. Next time on Big Answers we debate vegetables – smarter than us or more stupid, and should they have the right to vote? My opinion is they already do. I hope you can join us. Good night.