Ever thought that current politicians are just like a middle-management convention? That they’re simply a bland collective parroting the vacuous conveniences of the company mission statement? A group without message, morality, intellect, calling, philosophy or ideology but with added Na-na-na-na-na!? Do you consider they spend their time shuffling a limited pack of tarot cards while harbouring an obsession for maintaining their differentials – all underpinned by a desperation to hang on to a place on the Parliamentary career ladder at all costs?
If that’s the case you’re definitely not alone. Let’s consider the main players at the London headquarters of Britain Plc – a middle-ranking multinational company that is trying to shift out of hard economic times yet remains unsure of its stock position and its potential markets.
DAVID CAMERON – CEO. The most likely to utter the mission statement as a definitive answer to every question. PR is his DNA. Considers meeting and greeting potential partners as his forte. Always in the company magazine drumming up business but struggles to add flesh to the bones of his role beyond the surface brief. Can only identify with others who reflect the same privilege back. Anyone else soon tires of the one-eyed exhortation of “Our company” and declarations of – “Batting for Britain Plc.”
The CEO role is more like a hobby than a job. Hankers for a simpler life in the shires… a chance to chillaxe with friend and co-driver Jeremy Clarkson – where their mutual love of all things Thatcherite would see them ruling the Oxfordshire lanes in pimped up 4x4s while forcing others off-road with shouts of – “We’re not for turning you plebs!” Thought to have a secret urge to set up a hair salon to – A) actually see what real employment is like and B) to keep on top of that troublesome bald patch. Rejects any expansion into European markets but keen to hold onto the Scottish subsidiary even if it means he has to leave the comforts of the boardroom to keep tabs on the ambitious prospective provincial MD – Alex Salmond.
GEORGE OSBORNE – ACCOUNTS. The numbers man… It’s all about the figures for George. A good company advocate – with him it’s repetition of a different kind. Someone to be avoided in the staff restaurant: always orders a pasty and is keen to remind others in the queue not to exceed their budget by getting the chicken curry two days in a row. Keeps tight rein on the company finances since the repercussions of that failed city-funded expansion. Has a positive gleam in his eye when telling thrusting young executives that there is no funding available. Unable to credit anyone with an alternative opinion.
The company is struggling to get into profit again so My-way-or-the-highway George regularly burns the midnight oil in his office on the fourth floor. Micro, macro or meerkats… it’s all the same to George. Has no real friends in the company other than Mr Budget Cut, Miss Austerity Drive and Hard Working Families. Trouble is no one has actually seen them on the premises and the chances of him knowing anything about the latter is beyond unlikely. There is an unsubstantiated rumour from some of those who work late on the lower floors that he has fashioned models of these imaginary characters out of leftover pastry and five-pound notes and keeps them in a red box under his desk. Some go so far as to say they have heard him holding conversations with them – but it’s not inconceivable that short bursts of “I am the one and only!” could quite easily filter down the ventilation system from the top floor.
ED MILIBAND – HUMAN RESOURCES. Touchy-feely Ed is the self-styled nice guy in the company. Organises the corporate events – family-friendly, politically correct and a crèche provided – also outward bound, seminars, training and team building. In fact anything that emphasises collective respect and responsibility. “Group hug anyone?” is a frequent response when he’s in the office though more likely to be off on a course. If he finds a colleague in trouble he invites them round to his and Justine’s for a bonding session. Feels more at home on the Ground Floor and keen to show off his credentials as a man you can trust. Collars workmates in the corridor with family pictures and self-deprecating to a fault shouts out “Cheese Gromit!” at any corporate publicity event. Always got his head in a heavy book by his Dad. Only known to break the mould when his brother is mentioned. A dark family secret or hidden scab that the CEO is most likely to pick with a cheery – “So how’s your brother Ed?” on the rare occasions that he is in the lift heading towards the top floor boardroom.
ED BALLS – SECURITY. Big Ed sees himself as the company enforcer. Particular axe to grind with George in accounts that has turned personal – mutual loathing and name calling: he calls George “Marie-Antoinette” seeing him as not only five floors but a class above. Osborne retorts with the shorthand insult of “Up!” Throws his not inconsiderable weight about. Puts arguments down by dint of hard stare, being relentlessly on-message combined with finger wagging.
Believes strongly, passionately and earnestly in something but can’t quite put his finger on what that might be. Would love to go down the pub with Nigel but worried about the repercussions. Self-styled man of the people – if only he could find where those people are. Formed company football team but always wants to play centre forward. Most likely to be the victim of obscene graffiti given his unfortunate surname. Most likely to be in the toilets on the Mezzanine floor trying to catch the perpetrators and fix them with how unjust the comment is for someone who believes so strongly, passionately and earnestly…
GRANT SHAPPS – SALES & MARKETING. Shiny-suited, coquettish Grant is all teeth and trousers. He’s young and he’s thrusting… and he’s young and er, thrusting? Not forgetting he’s young. Has learnt the company mission statement off by heart – but with no soul involved – to primarily get in with the CEO: Grant knows intrinsically where his bread is buttered. Can also regurgitate details of all the company products and manuals ad nauseam. For him it is much like any other sales job and he’s mainly here for the generous benefits and holidays. The CEO calls him his “rock” and his department – “the spine of the company.” Ed Balls calls him a “cock” and “a spineless reptile” after the handbags confrontation in the Mezzanine toilets. Over promoted once… never again: does what he has to do and has inveterate middle-management written all over him alongside the designer suit labels.
NICK CLEGG – MANAGING DIRECTOR – ELECT. Mister reasonable who has a reputation of being willing to agree with anyone to get the job done. The Ringo of the company elite: a nowhere man in company arguments. Occasionally lets off steam but far too calculated to have an effect. To him two Eds are definitely not better than one. Claims to be the ideal man to lead company expansion into Europe given his educated, cosmopolitan outlook and vivacious foreign wife but conflicts with the CEO constantly. Known that the CEO is heartily sick of keeping up appearances and sharing his office on the top floor with someone who came in from a much smaller company in the initial merger four years ago. Spends days measuring the shared office into equal halves to reflect his perceived stature and grabbing the big black spinny leather-upholstered chair in the boardroom. Wheeee!
DANNY ALEXANDER – ACCOUNTS: GRADUATE TRAINEE. Whizz kid known as the Ginger Whinger to the two Eds; or Kid Dynamite to George in as much as he keeps going off message. Beaker to everyone else in the company who recognise a true Muppet when they see one…
Cultivates George as a friend but in name only. Repeats pretty much everything he tells him but only on the promise of a prime position when the company retrenches in a year or so and his old job inevitably disappears with the national changes. Seeks a big relocation allowance but his CV sits gathering dust on the CEO’s desk. Worries that Nick Clegg will shred it in a fit of jealousy and pique when the CEO is away on yet another Chipping Norton set weekend.
NIGEL FARAGE – ??????!!!!!! No one really knows Nigel’s role in the company. Most popular with the impressionable and the old stagers. Most likely to attempt to solve issues and disputes by suggesting a quick trip to the pub over the road. Jovial bonhomie and hail-fellow-well-met disposition however only applicable if you come from the right department. Those on overseas secondment are met with an unequivocal statement of intent. Cultivates a persona as everyone’s favourite dodgy uncle. “Did he really say that?!” is the most common remark of those who return to their desks from a particularly liquid lunch. If not in the pub can be found at the rear exit with the rest of the smoker’s celebrating their right to kill themselves whatever the European headquarters’ directive. Deeply against expansion programme into Europe: would prefer to consolidate company’s position on the home front… sorry (ahem) in the home market.
IAIN DUNCAN SMITH – CONSULTANT. Although the two Eds suggest the O, one N, S, L,T and A are superfluous characters. And that he doesn’t have one – character that is. Special responsibility for staff welfare and budget reduction. It’s a dirty job and someone’s got to do it. Given the responsibility by CEO as he was already so unpopular in company headquarters as makes no difference. The Grim Reaper as he is known around the water cooler resides in a small office in the basement also known as the dark side: the lift halts on the Ground Floor. No one really knows exactly where his office is as no-one goes down the stairs if they can help it – for God’s sake not even Nigel!
Always sending schemes up to the top floor designed to save the company money but in fact costs more. Deeply resentful of the CEO and his ‘kind’ who he sees having the job that was rightfully his. Doesn’t get on with Human Resources either: cuddly Ed says there is no I in team but there are two in Iain so he’s predisposed to be opposed. Intermittently drifts up the stairs to reception to deposit his latest brainwave report with the post room as he doesn’t trust computers anymore. Has a soft spot for the young ethnic lady stood by the pot plants in reception and always has a chat along the lines that she is the only one who really understands him – seems unaware she is a cardboard cut-out left over from an outreach recruitment drive by Ed Miliband.