While the default response to reading any government document is and must forever be “Bah humbug”, I must admit that, when reading the latest from the DCLG this Christmas Eve*, I am tempted to let slip a surreptitious “God bless us, every one” or similar piece of Tiny Timmery.
Via Velvet Glove, Iron Fist, I learn that the thirty-seventh of 50 ways to save: Examples of sensible savings in local government suggested by Eric Pickles’ department is
Cease funding ‘sock puppets’ and ‘fake charities’: Many pressure groups – which do not deliver services or help the vulnerable – are now funded by state bodies. In turn, these nominally ‘independent’ groups lobby and call for more state regulation and more state funding. A 2009 survey found that £37 million a year was spent on taxpayer-funded lobbying and political campaigning across the public sector. Many of these causes may be worthy, but why should they be funded by taxpayers?
Endearingly, Mr Pickles or whoever wrote this has not got the usage of the term “sock puppet” quite right. I would have called what is being described “astroturf” myself, but even so the appearance of the term “sock puppet” in a government document is a great big blog-print in itself. Specifically the print left by the currently inactive but still influential trope-namer “Fake Charities” blog started by Chris Mounsey of Devil’s Kitchen fame.
Scanning back to sensible suggestion no. 31, it too shows the influence of blogs:
Scrap trade union posts: Get rid of unnecessary non-jobs such as taxpayer-funded, full-time trade union ‘pilgrim’ posts.
“Pilgrims” was a term coined by Guido to describe a full time union organiser paid from the public purse, named after one Jane Pilgrim, who posed as, and was admiringly reported as, a nurse giving the then Health Minister a piece of her mind before the revelation that she hadn’t been near a patient in years.
*As one does. It’s that or “Merlin must find a way to overcome his greatest challenge yet, yadda yadda, the young wizard finally comes face to face with his destiny.” The latest heartstopping ep of “Examples of sensible savings in local government” is probably more exciting and less politically correct.