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Dear Hugh 7

The missing letter has turned up...

Thursday May 19th 2005

DEAR HUGH,

Do you have a phone number for Gordon Brown? I thought you might because I seem to recall that you said you met him on holiday once. Or was that Gordon Banks? Whatever, I just need to be able to speak to the bloke. I tried calling up Eleven Downing Street but they're a fat lot of use, apparently he can't be arsed to chat with such low-life who were the most important people on the planet when he wanted my vote a few weeks back.

Anyway, I need to talk to him because I've worked out a way by which he can keep the country afloat; and it's in his interest to listen.

As you know, everybody's in a bit of a tizz over here since Blair discovered that successive governments have been dipping into the Christmas Club box that was the national pensions fund in order to go spend it on ammunition for Iraq, gin and loose women. Or some such. Because everybody's been helping themselves to a tanner here and a fiver there, consequently there is not enough left in the kitty to pay out a pension for people like me who have spent all their life expecting one.

When the penny finally drops in the national psyche that there's no biscuits left in the tin, one of two things is going to happen. Either (a) there will be a run on the "bank" expressed through the act of people refusing to pay any more National Insurance (due to Gresham's Law that you don't throw good money after bad) or (b) there will be a bloody revolution.

Now although Old Shifty (Blair) has reluctantly muttered a claim that he will give up the Caesarism of his position during the term of this Parliament, I suspect there is not a cat's chance of him taking the Yale to No.10 off his key-ring until the very last moment - or at least not until the estate agents have rented his new gaff out at exorbitant rates to some senile Arab.

I reckon that Old Shifty won't shift himself until there is absolutely no money left in the tea caddy where they keep the pension dosh. Only when he can no longer afford new strings for his Stratocaster will he start telling the family to pack and not to forget about boxing up all the prezzies that they got from state visits.

At that stage he'll phone Gordon - probably from the jet upon which he will already be en route to his new post as the musical turn at Camp David - and tell him that he's left him the keys under the mat.

Brown, gurgling with delight at last, will nip next door to claim the throne offered him years back - only to discover that Britain's had the burglars in and there's no money left with which to govern. At which point, cue the start (b) above.

But I can save Brown (and Britain) the spilling of a lot of blood and not some little embarrassment when they pass around the envelope for Old Shifty's leaving gift. And to be honest, I got the idea off Blair himself (although best to keep quiet about that otherwise he'll send his missus round with a writ claiming copyright).

I was gently waking up the other morning to the Today programme as usual when I heard Old Shifty come on The News Read By Brian Perkins to discuss the shortfall in the pension funds and announce that "people must take responsibility for living longer".

Great, I thought, now it's my fault that I'm not already dead. Typical of this lot to try to make me feel guilty about that. So now it's up to me to provide for myself and all that talk of the last sixty years about the welfare state, well, that was just talk; nobody put any commitment in writing.

Then this really good idea - the one that could save Brown's backside - came to me. The Government's point is that because we are all selfishly going around refusing to die in our sixties, more people are eligible for pensions than they calculated for when they did the sums during the period of the Black Death. And this older population boom, coupled with some very bad investment in the nuthouse that is America, has resulted in the nation being, well, a little short.

Old Shifty's solution to this is for us to "take responsibility", by which I take him to mean that we should save more or, more likely, that he is going to quadruple the National Insurance subs. Typically, he's got it arse about face. What he should be doing instead - and this is what I want to tell Brown - is to turn the system on its head.

Instead of moaning that his aunts haven't pegged it and taxing them and us for the audacity of breathing, what he ought to do is reward people for perishing prematurely.

It's staggeringly simple economics. If there's a problem because there are more of us hanging about that there is money in the coffers to cater for, don't penalise us for living longer - encourage us to live shorter.

Instead of heavily taxing cigarettes and booze and other means of an untimely death, what they should do is provide tax breaks and incentives for all those who are making every reasonable every effort to pop off soon. We should get tax relief for smoking, boozing should be re-promoted as socially responsible, fatty fast foods should be subsidised, it should be made cheapest to live in cities where the pollution is vile and there should be Government grants for anybody death-wishy enough to claim in female company that there is more important things in life than new shoes.

By providing these early-grave incentives - and a few others imaginative schemes like benefit hand-outs for VC nominees who say "yes, your bum does look big in that" - the Powers could encourage millions to get their coats and thereby save the nation a packet.

So if you see Gordon, tell him.

GB

Comments

Your observations about Old Shifty are right, but what about Mr Berlusconi in Italy? We have already listened to the announce that "people must take responsibility for living longer" from our Mr Clown months ago, and he continues to state orrible things, like that the increasing of prices with the introduction of Euro doesn't exits, the problem are the old women that aren't able to count their money at the market!! They aren't able to make cheaper shopping! Poor stupid women!!! My God, he's an alien! The situation here in Italy is getting worse every day; Even if He has lost the regional election he don't want to let people vote for the other party..Don't know what you think about, but really, it seems to me to live in a comic strip! can't believe it...

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