Being an expatriate Englishman who has lived in Australia for the past 17 years, I still take a great interest in the UK elections. This is year is no different. However, I am a bit out of the loop now, as I live so far away, so I thought I would get some inside information. I made a list of people to call to get some answers about how the modern system works.
The first person that I rang was the Right Honourable Annie Portner-Storum, long serving MP for Rockall North.
Ms Portner-Storum has held numerous portfolios within the government, but has never aspired to be the Prime Minister, citing the job as being equivalent to being the sacrifice used to try to get a better crop in a drought situation. She has been Minister for Extraneous Affairs, Minister for Mentoring Junior Ministers, Minister for Deflecting the Blame, and Minster for Minister's Interests. An experienced Minister, Portner-Storum is, by her own admission, one of the foremost politicians in her country.
Many aspiring politicians have gained significant advantages through reading (what is thought to be) her book - What, Where, Why, Who am I and Who's to Blame? Portner-Storum has, however, steadfastly refused to acknowledge authorship of the book, suggesting that it is a vicious attempt and slurring her name…something she often does herself after a couple of hours in the parliamentary bar. Some of the more notable suggestions include:
Never apologise when you have a whole department able to take the blame for you.
Learn to provide soothing and superficially meaningful responses in times of crisis. This will buy you time to deflect the blame to a more suitable location -your predecessor, the previous government or your department. It doesn't really matter where the blame goes, as long as it goes. If a Minister changes direction often enough they will end up back in the relative comfort of where they started.
Make bold statements with no basis in fact. It's a lot of fun watching the public service and the general public try to make sense of them.
A Minister should never make decisions that will stand the test of time. A Minister should always ensure that the same issues will crop up for the next Minister. It's only polite.
GF: Good evening Ms Portner-Storum, George Fripley here, how are you?
AP-S: WHO? It's 3am in the morning you nutter. Get off the line or I'll call the police.
All in all it could have gone better. Next time I'll research the time differences a little more thoroughly.