13 August 2007

Red Tape c 100,000BC - AD2007

Red Tape, the bureaucratic binding that has for millennia tied up the people of Britain in rigid rules and regulations, has today been pronounced dead by Conservative MP and multilingual karaoke star John Redwood.

Red Tape was born in around 100,000BC following Ug the Bureaucrat's decision to insist that Ug the Hunter fill in a twenty-seven page risk assessment form before building his new smilodon trap ... sadly resulting in Ug the Hunter's death after he was savaged by a sabre-toothed tiger whilst still trying to work out what to put in section 3(b)(iv)(aa). Very quickly it became an important part of Neanderthal life and local government, providing a common evil for the community to grumble about yet, at the same time, providing health and safety conditions which proved vital – especially following Ug the Inventor’s discovery of fire.

Throughout history nothing got done without Red Tape: King Harold had to file a claims form following his accident with William the Conqueror’s arrow, Henry VIII’s divorce papers ran to so many volumes that he had to build Windsor Castle to house them (but only after a 12-year legal battle with local peasants who claimed it would spoil their panoramic views of the Slough plague pits) and even Neville Chamberlain wasn’t allowed to appease Hitler without having in his hand a piece of paper.

Always controversial, by the 20th century Red Tape had become the Marmite of the political and economic world: beloved of faceless bureaucrats, trade unionists and anyone who didn't fancy being sacked on the spot for failing to come in to work after losing their head in that unfortunate accident with the defective electric fire their boss ordered them to use to dry the toxic lead paint with which he'd insisted they cover over the cracks on the cut-and-shut job for the new kiddies' school bus, whilst loathed by industry, employers who didn't see why the loss of an arm should prevent someone working the rest of their 20-hour shift on the meat-packing line and politicians of all stripes eager to find an easy way to promise billions of pounds of savings.

Down the years politicians of all stripes - provided such stripes had been properly applied in accordance with the Political Stripes Act of 1937 as amended by the Journalistic Cliche (Amendment) Order of 1993 and the EU Striping Standardisation Regulations of 2004 - sought to win over the public by promising to do away with unnecessary bureaucracy and liberate the people from the tyranny of Red Tape and somehow free up vast amounts of money without ever having to mention tax cuts. Thus it was perhaps unsurprising that in 2007, with the Conservatives lagging behind Labour in the polls for the first time since the election of David Cameron as party leader, Mr Cameron contacted John Redwood - one of the Tories' most feared Vulcans senior figures and invited him to do away with Red Tape, ushering in a new era guaranteed to free ordinary Britons from the kind of petty-minded governmental meddling that had stopped kids happily climbing up chimneys and pensioners licking dustbins for sustenance.

Eager for the kill and belting out his battle cry of "Easing the restrictions on data protection, employees’ hours and health and safety conditions will provide the equivalent of a £14 billion tax cut and incentive to businesses", Mr Redwood levelled his trusty nuclear laser pistol at Red Tape and doubtless would have blown it halfway across the universe had he not been asked to fill in the necessary forms for his nuclear laser pistol licence first.

Red Tape will be buried at St Kafka’s Church of the Bureaucratic Nightmare following production of docket Z678907/34/X/iv, stamped by the relevant authorities and countersigned by the deceased. On its final, duly certified, expiry and interment it will be survived by As A Dodo's newly hired six-year-old asbestos sweeper, chimney cleaner and chainsaw juggler ... though probably not for long.


Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Brilliant - "the marmite of the economic and political classes": as we have so much more red tape here, I suppose it is the "Pasta", then. They can't abolish red tape - I use the expression for teaching idioms!

jmb said...

Perhaps it will be resurrected on the third day, she says irreverently and Welscakes will be saved.