Is it now essential for ministers to have a jacket with job titles on it?

Home secretary Priti Patel during a National Crime Agency operation in east London, May 19, 2021

Home secretary Priti Patel during a National Crime Agency operation in east London, May 19, 2021 - Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/PA Images

Mitch Benn rounds up the worst of another week in politics, including Priti Patel, Grant Shapps and Ivanka Trump


I’m sure most of you saw the results of that rather grim photo-op which was convened a few days ago, in which alleged people-traffickers were being arrested and led away by police officers under the stern and disapproving gaze of the home secretary herself, Priti Patel. 

This threw up a couple of issues: first of all, what, besides posing for the cameras, was the Home Secretary doing there?  Was she there as possible backup for the arresting officers? For all that the diminutive Ms. Patel’s reputation as a workplace martinet precedes her, that would be of little help if things kick off.  

There’s also the question of the home secretary’s attire: a huge black flack jacket bearing the words HOME SECRETARY in big white letters. Matched on this occasion with dinky gold moccasin-type shoes, but let’s concentrate on that jacket: The prime minister’s got a similar one; he’s been seen wearing it at various events and excursions.

Do all our ministers now have a jacket with their job title on it? Why? Do they wear them at cabinet meetings so that our legendarily inattentive prime minister doesn’t have to keep asking who they all are and what they do? 


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While enjoying catching up on BBC TV’s The Repair Shop on the iPlayer, a thought occurs:

It’s odd, isn’t it, that much of the British public seems eager to revel in (and marvel at) expertise when it comes to watching people perform vital tasks such as restoring old teddy bears or baking elaborate cakes, but dismisses the whole concept of “expertise” as a load of elitist claptrap when it comes to footling matters like running the country and economy.

Maybe if we could find some way of reframing British politics as a heartwarming Sunday evening reality format we could get more of the public to care whether our leaders had the first clue about what they’re doing.

And while we’re here, even if “expertise” is an elitist concept, how is that a bad thing?

If your heart gave out, who would you rather have operate on you? An elite heart surgeon? Or someone with very firmly held beliefs on heart surgery? 


It has emerged that, back in December, when required to make a sworn deposition in court (as part of an investigation into alleged misappropriation of inauguration funds by the Trump organisation), Ivanka Trump insisted that she had never heard of Allen Weisselberg, despite the fact that Mr Weisselberg has been the chief financial officer of her father’s company since before she was born.

Ms. Trump truly is the chip off the old block that the old block wanted his sons to be. As the investigation into the affairs of the Trump family by the New York District Attorney’s office moves from a civil to a criminal inquiry, surely it’s only a matter of time before Donald Trump himself issues a statement to the effect that Donald Trump Jr. was only his eldest son in an extremely minor capacity for a short period of time.


Transport secretary (or that’s what it says on his jacket) Grant Shapps has announced the creation of a state-owned body to coordinate England’s fragmented and piecemeal rail network. The organisation will be known as Great British Railways, which raises a number of questions.

First of all, isn’t this nationalisation by the back door? If so, it’s alarmingly off-brand for the Conservatives. 

Secondly, why is it being called “Great British Railways” when it won’t operate in Scotland or Wales? 

 thirdly... what is it about this country that we think we can make anything better just by sticking the words “Great British...” in front of it? It might work for a Bake-Off or even a Sewing Bee but there’s got to be more to making our chaotic railways “Great” than just declaring them to be so...

In any event, now I’ve been double-vaccinated, I look forward to taking my first rail journey in many months, only to discover that there’s a Great British Replacement Bus Service in operation.


It’s time we got the message
It’s time we knew the score
We shouldn’t bother doing
Eurovision anymore.

It’s time we got the picture
It’s time we realised
We shouldn’t go competing
Where we’re openly despised.

And who can really blame them?
Who are we to judge?
Is it so surprising
That they bear us all a grudge?

We told them “You’re a burden!“
“Bled us white and did us wrong!”
“And we’re better off without you!”
“But please vote for our song...“

How much humiliation
Are we supposed to feel?
It’s meant to be a contest
Not an annual ordeal.

It’s time we got the nul points
They’re showing us the door
We shouldn’t bother doing
Eurovision anymore.

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