School's out

`Gordon's rate of interest has never flagged, rising steadily throughout the term'
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The Independent Online
The Prime Minister is to issue an annual report, commenting on the progress of his government. An early draft was lying on the desk of a minister I went to see recently, and I managed to read it upside down. In the interest of open government, I reproduce it here.

"To all parents and stakeholders: Hi! It's been a fantastically busy first term of the new parliament. On the whole, the Government has done extremely well, adjusting to the new offices very quickly and with the minimum of disruption. Our review groups are now looking at virtually every aspect of administration and policy, and will be reporting well before the end of the century. Which is not - if I may remind you - very far away!

In the meantime, these are my interim reports on your ministers. I hope that you find them instructive and useful.

John: Has had - for him - a quiet term. He has, I think, begun to realise that his occasional over-enthusiasm has led to his taking on too many different things at once. The transport project, especially the Birmingham ring-road, has not quite been the success that he hoped for, and has led to John failing to grip the Nature Studies part of the course. Effort: A minus; Achievement: C minus.

Jack: Has set about his task with his usual grim determination, so I've actually seen very little of him! Seems to be achieving a nice balance between liberalism and firmness, but I do wonder where he's keeping all those prisoners! Effort: B plus; Achievement: B double plus.

Gordon: Beneath that gloomy exterior there is a very clever chap indeed! His innovative work on the Bank of England has been the talk of the Government, and his rate of interest has never flagged, rising steadily throughout the term. I hope he doesn't find the rest of the work too taxing. Effort: A; Achievement: A minus.

Clare: An excellent start! Last term's distressing tendency towards indiscipline has been almost completely eradicated, leaving her free to concentrate on what she loves best, travelling and sympathising. I thought I'd never be able to say this, but she is an asset to the government! Effort: B; Achievement: C plus.

Robin: Difficulties at home have not prevented him from making his mark. His landmark essay "Morality in Foreign Policy" was the talk of the Christian Society, attracting a great deal of favourable comment. Now let's see how he puts it into practice! His forthcoming trip to Indonesia should prove stimulating. Effort: A minus; Achievement: B double plus.

Prefects: Peter tells me that morale is good, and that almost everybody is pulling their weight. The plan to send work teams into the vegetable garden to occupy them during slack periods is now close to fruition. Also the work on the Dome is well under way, and, under Peter's inspired leadership, should provide us all with a memorable evening on 31 December 1999.

Matron's Report: Although there are signs of improvement in attendance and punctuality, Miss Harman is concerned that there are still too many who stop work at the smallest sign of illness, or who still refuse to take on tasks that they consider beneath them. A new system of encouraging less hardworking girls and boys to pull their fingers out is about to be introduced.

Trips: It is important that ministers get out and experience life in other countries. I myself have accompanied several such delegations, and although all have been hard work (especially the weekend in Amsterdam) nevertheless a good time was had by all.

Sports: Mr Banks tells me that the First XI has enjoyed mixed fortunes against the Australian boys with a splendid win followed by a couple of disappointing results. Sports day last week was also something of a let- down, with too many of our athletes performing below par. Let us hope that the soccer team will enjoy better fortune next year on their world tour!

All in all, a terrific term - and a year of achievement in prospect. I hope you share my excitement!

Tony Blair

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