Matthew Norman: Shapps could break a record

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The Independent Online

What an electrifying start Grant Shapps makes in his role as Tory chairman. There hasn't been a lightning break from the blocks on this scale since Usain Bolt jumped the gun at the 2011 world athletics championships.

Whether Shappsy also deserves instant disqualification with which to smash David Laws' record for briefest Cabinet tenure, the avalanche of newly exposed naughtiness is enough to bury a less resilient chap.

Google banning his family's internet firms for alleged copyright breaches, using a sobriquet (see below) for some "motivational" drivel he wrote about how to beat the recession, inflating his count of Twitter followers... As for changing his Wikipedia entry to remove a reference to his modest haul of O-levels, please God, this nice Jewish boy picked up an ology. Yet intellect and a knack for passing exams are hardly mutually exclusive, and in a quest to locate signs of cerebral activity we turn to yesterday's Sun on Sunday article. "Most importantly," writes Shappsy after rattling through the omnisplendid Government efforts to revive the economy, "we're making sure that work always pays."

To underline this, his closing sentence begins: "If you want to help ensure that work always pays..." As his Wiki entry confirms (at the time of writing, ; he's probably changed it by now): "On 4 September 2012, he was appointed... Minister without Portfolio in the Cabinet Office, an unpaid post." Slash those odds on a Tory majority. The man's a rampant genius.

And so to the nom de plume under which Shapps wrote his recession-busting advice. Whatever possessed him to pick Michael Green? Scholars will ponder this for decades, but let's open the debate with a theory. Michael Green was David Cameron's famously domineering boss at Carlton TV. By picking the name, Shappsy was laying the ground to implant in Cameron's head the subliminal message that the PM is merely the public relations underling, and he the true "guv'nor". As I said, a genius.

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