Scrooge builds a Cabinet of all the talents
My, how Ebenezer Scrooge’s fortunes had changed in the years since the ghostly visitations had left him clinging to a tattered bed-curtain, pleading for absolution.
Stepping from a shiny black hansom cab to take up his position on the steps of Number 10 Downing Street, Scrooge doffed his topper to the Fleet Street hacks jostling for the best view of the new Prime Minister.
Placing his notes on the hastily erected wooden lectern, Scrooge took a slow, deep breath, just as Tiny Tim had showed him. The nation was waiting. He could feel the hand of destiny upon his shoulder.
“Good morning, everyone. I have just been to Buckingham Palace and accepted Her Majesty Queen Victoria’s invitation to form a government in her name.
“Right now, our country is facing a profound economic crisis. The aftermath of the Great Famine in Ireland still lingers. The cholera pandemic in South Asia is now threatening our shores. America’s annexation of Texas that triggered the war with Mexico is destabilising energy markets and supply chains the world over.
“I would first like to pay tribute to my predecessor, Robert Peel. It was not entirely his fault that reforming the Corn Laws went down like a stale mince pie on Twelfth Night. Like Cincinnatus, Robert has returned to his plough, but I for one will not bet against his return.
“I have been elected as leader of my party and your Prime Minister to fix things. That work begins immediately, with the first announcements about my new Cabinet.
“I am delighted that Bob Cratchit has agreed to be my Chancellor of the Exchequer. Thanks to me, Bob has spent his entire working life making bricks out of straw, so if anyone can take care of the florins and the farthings, it is he. More importantly, Bob lives a quiet and respectable life, which is what we all crave in a next-door neighbour.
“Nigel Fezziwig will be my Foreign Secretary. His unique blend of ruddy-faced boosterism is just the tonic this country needs, and I am sure our Cabinet meetings will be the better for a glass or two of Crusted Port and a jolly jig around the table.
“Jacob Marley’s Ghost will join the Cabinet as my Home Secretary. He has the required look of menace about him, and with the level of crime on our streets I have a feeling his chains will come in handy.
“The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come will be my Trade Secretary. Her foresight will be invaluable as we negotiate trade deals around the world. Priority one, she tells me, will be to abolish Black ‘Death’ Friday. As she said recently, the goodwill from a lover’s gift of eau de toilette can never escape the fact it was on 70% discount.
“Last but by no means least, Tiny Tim will be my Health Secretary. He has a plan for a National Health Service where you can get an appointment to see a doctor or dentist whenever you need one. Just imagine that!
“On the wider front, the government I lead will not leave the next generation with a debt to settle that we were too weak to pay ourselves. So I have today cleared my slate at the Dog & Duck. It’s cash for cognac for me from now on.
“I promise to unite our country not with words, but with action. That action is to tell you all to pull yourselves together.
“I will work, day-in and day-out, to deliver for you. Gone are the days of children collecting giant turkeys from the butchers.
“My government will have integrity, professionalism, and accountability at every level. We’re in the Victoria Age after all, so this shouldn’t be too high a bar.
“I am grateful to Robert Peel for his achievements during his spell as Prime Minister and I will always treasure his generosity with spirits. I think that should say generosity of spirit.
“And I understand I have work to do to restore trust after all that has happened in the recent past. All I can say is that I am not haunted…sorry, daunted.
“Finally, let us throw off the ghostly shroud of pessimism. Anything is possible in this great country. Let’s face it, if a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner like me can become Prime Minister, there is hope for us all.
“So, onwards and upwards citizens, and God Save The Queen.”
Albert, the Number 10 cat, squatted in front of the press corps to relieve himself before barging past the Prime Minister on his way indoors. A judgment on the new Prime Minister’s performance that the Editor of The Times failed to top.