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REGGIE mugshot

From :    Reggie@toptory.lidl.com

To:          Desmond.Swayne@dfid.gov.uk

Subject :     New Year Resolutions

Dear Dessie,

Already a week back at the Palace of Varieties, and our glorious leaders are going round the country stirring up apathy for a four month general election campaign.  You have the advantage over the rest of us poor bloody infantry in that your ministerial duties take you to sunny climes handing out Her Majesty’s largesse to all and sundry.  You seem to be one of the few ministers allowed out with their passport as the PM has cancelled all leave.

On that subject, I spent a convivial evening in the main bar of “The Nest of Vipers” just off Whitehall with some of Fleet Street’s finest scribblers.  You should have heard the wailing and gnashing of teeth and tearing of clothes as they all bemoaned their lot – a long election campaign and the need to fill news 24/7.  Of course it doesn’t apply to you and I, Dessie, but they are monitoring all our colleagues’ tweets on the chance of finding something embarrassing or incriminating. I’d have thought they were spoilt for choice.

You won’t have seen the line up of our media tarts who will be deployed for the election.  G Osborne had this jolly wheeze of humbugging Miliband’s policy launch with a mock-up critique like a Treasury Red Book.  Undoubtedly rained on his parade, but you should have heard the whingeing from those ministers not invited – no names, no pack drill, but East Anglia featured heavily!

Then there was the brouhaha over the new Cabinet photograph.  Not content with including full members of the Cabinet, it had to have all those who have the right to attend.  So they had to find a room big enough to hold about 60 people, with all the ensuing chaos and elbowing to sit near the PM.  Reminds me of the course photos at the Staff College, but with no RSM to grip people.  Anyway, my spies tell me that some passing lobbyist managed to get himself included with nobody noticing.

You missed the old regimental cocktail party at the Cavalry/Guards Club.  It was an all Yeomanry affair, and those of us who had served in the Duke of Brunswick’s Own Yeomanry were well represented.  We will be participating in the Waterloo celebrations in June.  You may not remember, but despite being a Yeomanry regiment we were at Waterloo – not our finest hour, as we were protecting the baggage train and were accused of looting the Household Cavalry’s mess silver.

Over the Albanian champagne, the old sweats were muttering about Brother Fallon’s decision to allow women to serve in front line combat units.  They were nearly all against it, and later Soames said: “Reggie, I think I can speak on behalf of all the ex-military boys at the bar in White’s when I say they won’t frighten the enemy but they will frighten us”.

The other matter that was raised was the MOD decision to issue some pamphlet entitled “Where are you in the Pecking Order?” (Something could easily apply to the Parliamentary Party).

The senior brass hats have become alarmed at how the younger generation has no idea of seniority, who to salute, or what to call them.  Much mumblings over juniors calling seniors “mate”, “boss”, “squire” or “chief”.  Nothing new in that, as you and I recall this was a common greeting from RAF other ranks to all senior army officers in Germany 30 years ago.

My drinking companions in the Labour Party are sunk in deep gloom.  I sometimes visit that grim bar in the basement, and there you find the Scottish contingent facing the prospect of getting the old P45 in May from that Nicola Sturgeon (known as “hen”).  I say to our colleagues in the marginals if you want to cheer yourself up talk to Scottish Labour MPs.

You probably missed the spat between Uncle Vince Cable and the Boy Danny Alexander.  It seems that Clegg has pulled Vince out of the election team as economic spokesman and replaced him with the Boy.  Personally, I can’t see it will make much difference to the average punter.

We had another meeting of the “Pale, Male and Stale” Dining Club last week with the opportunity for two would be leadership candidates to perform –  Owen Paterson shouted at us and launched into an attack on badgers – this was to a question from Bernard Jenkin on the EU!  Adam Afriyie was very smooth and charming but didn’t take questions, which were answered by Bill Wiggin of all people.  I think D.Cameron doesn’t yet need to alert the removal men.

God alone knows, Dessie, I do my best to keep up the morale of our backbenchers, but even I have difficulty when faced with the conflicting orders from the Fuhrerbunker.  We are encouraged to go canvassing in marginal seats, telephone canvass, man all committees and attend the Chamber.  Some young thruster from CCHQ told Soames and I that against our names in their media file were the initials “NOTBUM” – Not to Be Used on the Media”.  Rather hurtful I thought.

Well, my New Year Resolution is only to drink decent claret – I see that the barman’s best friend N Farrago has given up the worthy stimulant for this month.  It may explain his absence from our TV screens.

Yours till the next dinner,

Reggie

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