Wow! What a legacy! Just before crazy, wacky housing minister Caroline Flint got reshuffled, Chris Addison was passed another of her memos. And it makes one thing clear: Margaret Beckett has a tough act to follow …
Hi, gang! It’s me again! Caroline Flint! You know, MP for Don Valley and minister for housey thingies! That’s right! Well, goodness, I was just firing the woman who ties my shoelaces for making a remark about overstaffing when I thought to myself, hey! Caroline Flint! It’s ever such a long time since we did one of those FAQ doo-dahs (never really been sure what FAQ actually stands for; one of my advisers said it means “frequently avoided questions”, but he had that look in his eye again) so why don’t I, Caroline Flint!, do another one? I could even ask the questions too, because who’s better placed than me, Caroline Flint!, to know what I, Caroline Flint!, don’t want to talk about? Well, exactly. Here goes!
Hey! Caroline Flint! Your speech to the Labour conference last month appeared to be a 970-word list of non-sequiturs and thin oratorical cliché lacking any cohesive whole beyond the kind of partisan bickering that undermines public confidence in the political process in general and whatever you are saying at the time in particular.
I know! Brilliant, wasn’t it? It was like having Tony Blair back but without the pizazz. If I’m honest with you, it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to say, but my speechwriters and that big dullo Gordon made me change stuff! They said that my original draft lacked subtlety and was factually inaccurate about David Cameron, but that’s just them being stupid because everyone knows that “poo-poo head” is a clever literararary metaphor!
Never really been sure what FAQ actually stands for; one of my advisers said it means ‘frequently avoided questions’, but he had that look in his eye again
Hey! Caroline Flint! You’ve vowed not to abandon the target of 3 million new homes by 2020, in spite of figures showing that the current economic crisis makes the likelihood of that amount of construction pretty much unachievable. How do you aim to prove them wrong?
Ha! Well, it’s actually quite clever, this. I read an article about a guy called Aga Khan and how he’s a really good house breeder. I didn’t get all the details because I didn’t have my contacts in at the time, but I was thinking of asking him to come and set up a house breeding programme over here. I’m not sure quite how it works, but it sounds ace! You just need a couple of houses to get going and then the thing more or less takes care of itself. At least, you do if it’s anything like those gerbils my kid had to look after over Easter. I said we shouldn’t put both of them in the same cage. Ooh, that gives me an idea for a houses in multiple occupation policy! Must ring my adviser. Not that he ever picks up. Anyway, I might ask this Mr Khan to cross-breed me a prefab with Burleigh House – who hasn’t always fancied a bungalow with turrets?
Hey! Caroline Flint! Speaking of HMOs, can you explain your views on the studentised areas of towns such as Nottingham, Birmingham and Southampton, and maybe explain how you intend to tackle them?
The problem with catching ghosts is that it can be extremely dangerous if you cross the streams! I saw it on a documentary once
Sure thing, kiddo! As I see it, the problem is that during the vacations, the students all go off to find themselves in India. I don’t know how they find themselves, exactly. My adviser said that it’s usually in the form of a vision brought on by dysentery-induced delirium! Golly! Anyway, off they all go to sit on a ghat with a bunch of over-sexed Australians, wearing patchwork waistcoats with little mirrors sewn into them (my adviser said), leaving all their term-time accommodation empty. This reduces the student areas in these cities to ghost towns and, as I hardly need tell you, ghosts are scary! Really scary! This is obviously a problem, as we don’t want them going round floating through walls – that technically constitutes trespassing. Now, the problem with ghosts is that they are difficult to catch and even if you do have the equipment for the job it can be extremely dangerous if you cross the streams! Really, I saw it on a documentary once. So, what’s the solution? Well, it’s really easy. You’ll kick yourself when I tell you! It’s … Derek Acorah! You know, off Most Haunted! Brilliant!
Hey! Caroline Flint! You’ve changed the law so planning permission will no longer be needed for certain alterations to private houses. However, some are arguing that this will only affect 80,000 households.
They’re wrong – it will also affect the households next door to those 80,000, who will be able to hear the relentless noise of loud music and self-abuse emanating from the teenagers moved into dormer extensions. So it will affect 240,000 households in total, which is much more impressive!
That’s it for now! If you have any more questions, do send them to the House of Commons, and please remember to mark your envelopes “FAO: Margaret Beckett!” Toodle-oo!
Chris Addison is an actor and comedian