The family silver's sold, now for the top brass

BUNHILL
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The Independent Online
So what state assets would Labour sell off now the family silver's gone and all that's left is a couple of pasta makers and an old fondue set?

Well, for starters, we're led to believe that Air Traffic Control is on the table. This might well have great appeal to the private sector, given the liberalisation of the air routes, but I fear earth-to-sky communications along the following lines:

"This is the control tower. Look, I'm sorry but half the workforce got made redundant last week, a couple of staff are off sick and our radar system's being replaced with something more cost-effective. Would you mind circling the airport for a couple of days?"

Failing this option, we've always got the National Trust. After all, who better to understand that investors don't like falling share prices and that workers don't like being sacked than the body which spotted that hunting is stressful to stags.

Then there's the Central Statistical Office. This could be worth a fortune to any potential bidder since we'd willingly pay a premium to hear only what we want to hear. The department, to be renamed Statistics-U-Like, would dispense with those tiresome figures and simply tell us to spend, spend, spend and let tomorrow go hang.

Finally, we have the Army. It is being suggested that Labour would flog off surplus land owned by the Ministry of Defence, but why not go the whole hog? We already have a private army on these shores in the shape of the Duke of Atholl's Highlanders, and it's been doing very nicely: no wars, just a bit of a do once every year. There would be no shortage of bidders for a full-scale British Army. Take your pick from any of the following: Radovan Karadzic (the eminent psychiatrist and Serbian war criminal), Saddam Hussein, Colonel Gadaffi and Pol Pot.

FED up with all those financial advisers telling you to invest your building society windfall in PEPs, TESSAs, deposit accounts or the stock market - when all you really want to do is spend it?

Then why not splash out on a computer device called the Logic Analyser. It may or may not be a wise way to use your money, but at least you'll know why you did it.

It's the exit rolls

LATEST news from the campaign trail: Labour (Red Leicester), 24 per cent; Conservatives (Blue Stilton), 23 per cent; Liberals (Double Gloucester), 21 per cent; Green party (Sage Derby), 18 per cent; Monster Raving Loonies (Cheddar with Fruit Cake), 14 per cent.

These, at any rate, are the exit poll figures supplied by Tesco as it tests our electoral and gastronomic affiliations through a new form of psephology known as cheese sandwiches. These political snacks have been available at selected stores for a month and remarkably - seeing as "minority" parties have all the best flavours - we are voting with our heads and not our stomachs..

However, all is not well at the Manchester Metro store, where the ramifications of the Neil Hamilton affair in nearby Tatton continue to rumble on. Apparently, the sandwiches are revolting and a turkey and coleslaw bap has elected to run as an "anti-cheese" candidate.

MEMBERS of the Anti-Acronym Association (AAA) will have been dismayed by the recent decision of Union Bank of Switzerland to "rationalise" its name and switch to plain old UBS. For while more and more European companies (ECs) seem to think that savagely slashed short-hand (SSSH!) makes them sexy (S), all it really does is render them incomprehensible (?) to the outside world.

Instead, the true route to popular appeal is that charted by the mining giant RTZ-CRA, which recently reverted to its original title of Rio Tinto - after the Spanish river from which it began extracting copper in the 19th century. So can a good name win over the masses? Absolutely, if you sound like the venue for a spaghetti western.

Indeed, I suggest that more companies follow Rio Tinto's lead. For instance, if and when British Airways (BA) cements its alliance with American Airlines (AA), rather than call itself BAAA it should take on the title of El Paso. And though it would be hard on Sir Colin Marshall - he would have to be replaced by a cheroot-smoking chief known simply as the Man With No Name - it could lead to some intriguing exchanges at shareholder meetings:

Institutional investor: "Man With No Name, would it be fair to assume that profit margins have plateaued and that currency fluctuations could compromise dividend potential?"

Man With No Name: "Yep."

In the meantime, I hereby launch the Mainstream Orthodox Union (established) To Halt Fiendishly Ugly Letters - that's MOUTHFUL to you and me.

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