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Three cheers for a Con-Dem Cut

There will be rejoicing throughout the land as the axe falls today on the Ministerial limo.  No more will every minister have a car and driver on hand at their beck and call.  A car pool will have to do. And, now and again, public transport.

The credit, it seems, should go to my old friend, Chris Mullin, ex-Minister for Paperclips. Cameron told him some months ago that, having read his diaries, he intended to reform the Government Car Service. “The other day,” Chris tells me, “I had an email from a Tory member of the current Cabinet saying he has just instructed his junior ministers to read the diaries…I may not have had much influence over the last government, but I may have a little over this one.”

Chris’s diary entry for 29 July 1999 is just the beginning of the hilarious saga of his attempt to dispense with his chauffeur-driven car:

I am entitled to a car and a driver. Entirely pointless since the 159 and 3 buses will continue to run past my door, even though I am a minister. Jessica [his private secretary], who cycles in from Brixton, was sympathetic but explained that the situation is a little more complicated than I might suppose. For a start, red boxes cannot be transported by public transport.

She also explained that the funding of the government car pool is geared to encourage maximum use of the car. The drivers are on a low basic wage and are heavily dependent on overtime. So, if I accept a driver, he will be hanging around all day doing nothing and hating me for not giving him enough to do.

The diaries, A View From The Foothills: The Diaries of Chris Mullin,are now available in paperback, price £9.99 and are a thoroughly good read.  I read them over a weekend, I couldn’t put them down. They are a great insight into the grim realities of government and self-deprecation is absolutely the most endearing characteristic of a politician.

A few Ministers are spared the loss, unfortunately, according to Benedict Brogan, including Theresa May. Strange, since her sometime predecessor, our very own Charles Clarke, was the only other recent Labour Minister who tried to dispense with the perk. He was not as successful as our Chris, admittedly, but credit where credit’s due.

One Comment

  1. Kyla Harris says:

    I found this article a positive addition to yesterdays the Guardian’s front-pager. As a member of the Labour Party how could I have known this entitlement existed had I not read Chris Mullins Diaries?

    Surely the above dilemma and detail is one the public and specifically the democratic socialists of the left would be thankful to hear of. Your thoughts?

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