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Someone at the Department for Communities and Local Government reads blogs

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.

6 comments to Someone at the Department for Communities and Local Government reads blogs

  • Paul Marks

    Interesting advice.

  • Rob Fisher (Surrey)

    Crikey, Natalie, thanks for reading it so we don’t have to.

  • Catherine in Athens

    I’m with you on this one, Natalie; a Pickles offering sounds much more interesting than a PC Merlin. Would you cast Pickles as Mr Pickwick? And you are right about astroturf. Have a peaceful and restful Christmas!

  • Christopher Snowdon

    Thanks for the link. ‘Sock puppets’ refers to a paper I wrote for the IEA earlier this year. http://www.iea.org.uk/sites/default/files/publications/files/Sock%20Puppets.pdf

  • john in cheshire

    Words mean nothing. It’s deeds that count. When I read that all the fake charities have ceased to receive my money from the tax that is extorted from me. When I read that all the Quangos that this government pledged to abolish, have been sent to the scrap heap, with no compensation for the public teat-suckers, then I’ll take notice of what has been said.
    When our public servants ask us for permission to spend our money, so that we resume control over the purse-strings, then I’ll believe there has been a sea-change in how these parasites regard us, their betters. But I don’t see that happening until they are shit scared of us. And I don’t see that happening until they have had the shit scared out of them. So, the question is, really, who is going to do that and when?

  • Paul Marks

    John in Cheshire – sadly what you say here makes a lot of sense (I wish it did not – but it does).