Miles Kington: Forget green shoots, Britain needs more leaves

'We cannot enter a state of winter until I am satisfied that the process of leaf-fall has taken place'
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The Independent Online

For those of you who missed it, here is the complete text of Gordon Brown's Autumn Statement.

"Hello. This is my Government's, I mean Mr Blair's Government's, statement on autumn.

The attitude of the Government to autumn is quite clear. We have now achieved the state of Autumnality which we promised to do when elected.

All the tests of Autumnality have been met and we have now been accepted as full members of the Autumn Club. It only remains for us now to achieve a comparable state of winter, or Hibernality.

There has been considerable clamour for me to announce the exact date of this event, and great pressure on me to tell the country whether we are, or are not, in a state of winter.

Let me say again, until I am blue in the face and dark brown round the chin, that we are only prepared to apply to enter winter when all the necessary five conditions have been met.

I have argued this before and argued it again and again, until even Mr Blair understands, that there is no point in this country entering the state of Hibernality until the five tests which I have laid down have been passed.

Then, and then only, shall we apply for entry into winter membership.

What are those five tests?

Oh, for heaven's sake, were you not listening before? Do I really have to go through it all again? I see that I do.

So, please listen, because if you don't, I shall have to explain it again and my jaw will work so furiously that it may become dislocated.

1. The first test, which I am going to number One, is that of Deciduation.

This is a measure of leaf-fall, and means that we cannot enter a state of winter until I am satisfied that the process of leaf-fall has taken place throughout the main economic centres of Britain, to a factor of 90 per cent. (By leaf-fall, I mean of course Brown Leaf-Fall. Evergreen Leaf-Fall, which could more accurately be described as Needle Fall, is a quite different process and is governed by quite different factors, which I would explain if I thought you would have the slightest chance of understanding it).

2. The second test is that of Harmonisation.

This is a measure of leaf-tint, and means that we cannot enter a state of winter until the colour of the leaves has faded from deregulated hues of orange, brown, russet and dun, to a dull, underfoot sullen brown sludge on a fairly equalised basis from Thurso to Thanet, from the Scillies to Shetland.

3. The third test is that of Suspended Growth, or Burgeonality.

When the leaves have fallen, will we prove to have enough buds on this year's trees to guarantee an adequate supply of leaves in six or 12 months?

Will this year's branches supply the wherewithal for next year's spring-time growth?

To put it in simple language, that even a backbencher could understand, is Britain's leaf-manufacturing base of sufficient viability to guarantee a seasonally adjusted foliage flow and frondescence back-up capability ?

4. The fourth test which Britain simply must meet if we are to play our part in the great winter community – and I need hardly remind you that most of Europe has already met the conditions under which they can play their part in the expansion of wintry times – is the test of Seasonal Electricity.

Winter cannot be winter until 90 per cent of all shops are full of coloured lights; 50 per cent of pubs have big garish light bulbs strung along their facades; and at least 10 per cent of garden trees have sprouted strings of fairy lights where autumn leaves used to be.

When the businessmen and bureaucrats fly in to Britain at night they must be able to count on seeing a fairyland grid of twinkling coloured lights.

5. The final test is the December Discount test. Winter cannot be winter until the Christmas sales have started.

Under a previous government, the Christmas sales very often did not start till after Christmas Day. Under the economic conditions created by me, Christmas sales now commence some time before Christmas, and have rendered the January sales almost superfluous. I fully expect this to be the case again this year. I see no reason why we should not have achieved full Hibernality in the next week or two.

Thank you."

Standing ovation.