The policy wonk whose heart isn't in it
Monday: Brainstorming at the Department. I am one of half a dozen blue-sky gazers brought in to "think through" options for the inevitable rebadge. The Gove has vowed to shorten the name from its current encyclopaedic Department for Children, Families, Feelings, Schools, People and Relationships. He wants it contracted to the Department for Education. This has been met with astonishment by certain civil servants, who think they are rather grander than that. "Department for Education?" mutters someone, darkly. "I bet that's what it was called in Nazi Germany." By close of business we still haven't agreed on a name. But we have agreed that a new name is essential, whoever's in power. The Department of Fresh If Not Entirely Sure Starts.
Tuesday: Rebadging Task Force: Day Two. It's always difficult trying to guess what politicians want. They don't know themselves half the time. The important thing is that we have a new name ready. Anything has to be better than the over-prescriptive Department for Education. God, it sounds so 1970s. So Kes. So teachers in duffel coats. So "dole queue". Hmmm, pause for thought there. Everyone in Funding says the next year or so might be a bit ... spartan. Maybe the name should sound all stripped down and utilitarian: The Department for Literacy, Maths and Sport, say. We decide to sleep on it.
Wednesday: Deadlock. At one end, the Govists are keen on rebadging as The Department for Attainment. Nice and short but with an undeniably haughty feel. Everyone who worked there would feel important. Meanwhile, the Ballsy Army contingent favours a bigger, more diaphanous remit. Something like The Department for Learning To Live. Let's face it, that would be quite an administrative portfolio. Our one Lib Dem think-tanker Simon plays very little part in the debate. Simon's just weighing up who's likely to come out on top and when to help them. I think he's holding out for The Department of School Partnerships.
Thursday: Polling Day. It's nerve shredding, waiting to find out which landscape we'll be inhabiting for the rest of the year. A bit like The Crystal Maze. Which zone are we going to: Aztec, Industrial, Futuristic or Medieval? It's so exhausting in fact that we call it a half day.
Friday: Well, that's that then. And once again I PREVAIL. Days ago I mooted The Department for More Than Education. Both Govish and Ballsy, yet with an unspecified added-value dimension that appeals to everyone. That's what our Rebadging Task Force is proposing, anyway. We'll see what the secretary of state says when he finally pitches up. After he's finished his apparently endless round of donor lunches and one-on-ones with business sponsors. Happy days.
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