Outlook: All is in the presentation with coal

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The Independent Online
LEAFING THROUGH the usual pile of anonymously leaked memos and confidential documents that daily arrive through the post, we stumbled across a letter, apparently sent about a week ago, by Alastair Campbell to Margaret Beckett at the Board of Trade, copied to the PM. In the interests of open government, we here reproduce it.

Dear Margaret, This really isn't good enough, not good enough at all. I've just been reading your proposed statement to the house on the energy review and I can tell you right now that you are not to say anything of the kind. Don't forget. There's a reshuffle coming up and everyone's expendable, even me, so let's get it straight. This energy review thing is nothing to do with saving miners' jobs. You are certainly not to say that you've guaranteed a market for coal that will safeguard the pits.

Don't get me wrong. I love the miners as much as you, though that Richard Budge can go take a jump as far as I'm concerned. But we have a wider constituency to satisfy now - the free market. And markets don't take kindly to the sort of meddling that we're about to get up to. So we are going to present it this way, alright. You will say that the Government will not be subsidising coal or guaranteeing a market for it, but instead will be addressing the serious distortions that exist in the electricity pool which disadvantage coal to the detriment of consumers. Clever eh?

We all know that the simplest way to have done this would simply be to tell the generators to buy more coal and stop the building of any more gas-fired power stations, but in the modern, globalised world you are not allowed to do that sort of thing. The approach will be to blame it all on the electricity pool and the profiteering generators. I don't understand how the pool works, you don't understand how the pool works, nobody in their right mind would take time to understand it, so we'll get away with it, right.

What we'll say is that no more gas-fired stations can be built until we've ironed out the distortions in the pool. That'll give coal a reprieve long enough for everyone to forget this whole silly business ever happened, which I'm sure you'll agree is the object of the exercise. What happens after that is of no concern.

Yours Tony (sorry, Alastair).