Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles is to be replaced by a dugong in the General Election.
The shock history-making revelation was made in an extraordinary constituency meeting in Brentwood and Ongar yesterday. "It was lucky that the meeting was in Brentwood and Ongar", a Brentwood and Ongar Conservative spokesman said yesterday, "since Eric Pickles is the standing MP for Brentwood and Ongar. If the meeting had been held in another constituency, then the dugong would have replaced the wrong person."
The Brentwood and Ongar Conservative spokesman went on to say: "Conversely, if the meeting had been held in Brentwood and Ongar, but had been about a standing MP from another constituency, then, again, the poor dugong would have been similarly at a loss."
He concluded, positively, that "Brentwood and Ongar is an ideal constituency for a dugong to manage, since it provides a perfect marine environment, with abundant supplies of sea-grass, which Eric Pickles has always loved to browse".
We also spoke to marine expert Professor Jens Convolvolus of The University of Jutland, who told us that "this is an ideal replacing of one creature with another of a similar environmental adaptation. The body is sparely covered in the short hairs, which may enable his tactile interpretations of his surroundings. These hairs are most developed around his mouth, which has a large horseshoe shaped upper lip which is a mobile muzzle very useful in his foraging. And the dugong is much the same."
It is believed that Eric Pickles has had to withdraw his candidature because he wants to attend the World Flag Convention which is being held in Shanghai, China the day after the General Election. Mr Pickles is renowned as a great flag enthusiast, or vexillophile, who has for many years been engaged in the design of a new flag for the Isle of Wight.
It might be feared that a dugong, who has few natural predators in the wild, might be ill-suited to the cut and thrust of the hustings, but we understand that Mr Pickles' constituency team has delivered an intensive training course to the newcomer. It is believed that this has made the dugong virtually unassailable in an argument. For example, when questioned as to the failure of the Coalition Government to meet its chief targets, it will relentlessly preface its answers with "because of the huge deficit we inherited from the previous government...". Further, when asked where the Conservatives will find the money to fund the extra Health spending promised in their manifesto, the dugong will simply reply "Look at our record. We have a watertight economic plan. Steady growth will deliver results. We must not go back to the economic chaos of a Labour administration."
A huge creature that has a brain weighing 0.1% of its body weight, very small eyes in a huge tusked head and a great body usually covered in algae is a ferocious opponent in a political debate. But the Conservatives in Brentwood and Ongar believe that the dugong can be just as formidable.