The Queen has asked a simple but pertinent question of the nation’s economists. Visiting the London School of Economics at the end of last year, she wondered out loud why no one had managed to foresee this “awful recession”.
The economists did what economists do on these occasions: they set up a seminar. Its conclusions, set out briefly and in a language even a busy queen will be able to understand, have just been sent to Buckingham Palace. The awful recession was apparently caused by “a very complicated, interconnected set of issues”, combined with “a failure of the collective imagination of many bright people”.
This exchange may not be that revealing – the recession was complicated in ways that nobody could quite understand seems to be the message – but it presages a new form of communication between the monarch and those in charge of running her country.
We need more of these formalised question-and-answer sessions.
Why are so many of one’s subjects becoming so appallingly fat?
Your Majesty, experts believe that Britain is sitting on what they have called “an obesity time-bomb”. Should it explode, the result will be messy and unpleasant. Already there are signs that the problem is acute – more wear and tear on chairs and pavements, clothes having to be made bigger and even so splitting at an unprecedented rate, lifts failing to function, and so on.
Yet, as a nation, we are swelling so fast that future generations may look at the width of our doorways and wonder at our slimness compared to theirs. To address this problem, an obesity tsar has been appointed.
Why are there so many tsars these days? Should one be worried?
Very droll, ma’am. These tsars are not, of course, emperors or supreme sovereigns but are establishment figures appointed whenever central and local government wants to appear to be taking a problem seriously. This very week, several new tsars have emerged, including an enterprise tsar, Lord Sugar (the crinkle-haired TV personality), and a social mobility tsar (a nice little man called Milburn), as well as a curriculum tsar, an insurance tsar, an Olympics tsar, a tobacco tsar and a pandemic tsar.
What are we doing about these awful greenhouse gases one hears about?
The carbon tsar is on to this already, Your Majesty! Scientists are telling us that global warming is the greatest challenge our generation faces. What is to be done? Well, the Government has set up a review body which is doing a lot of consulting and talking.
In the meantime, we need to show that we mean business when it comes to climate change. So what we are doing is putting up as many giant, moving metal structures across the country as possible. To tell the truth, pouring millions of tons of concrete into the earth for an inefficient supply of energy has its practical disadvantages but image is what matters here. These things will be symbols to reassure people, as they drive past on their holidays, that the Government is doing something about climate change.
Who is Jordan?
She is a glamour model who has been to hell and back, ma’am. Reading about the assault course of her life makes people feel better about their own.