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Gordon Brown and Alan Johnson - a nice try
posted: Friday March 06, 2009

Gordon Brown called Alan Johnson into his office one day and said 'Alan, I have a great idea! We are going to go all out to win back the hearts and souls of the medical profession'.

'Good idea PM, how will we go about it?' said Johnson.

'Well' said Brown 'we'll find a large district hospital, turn up unanounced, and spend the day walking around and asking questions, you know the sort of thing. We'll pretend to look as if we really give a shit about the NHS - apart from the votes point of view of course! Then, at about 5:30, we'll find a nearby pub, one where the doctors and nurses go to relax after work, and we'll show we really understand how those medics feel. We'll stand at the bar and talk about how much we care about waiting lists, postcode lotteries, MRSA, patient choice and all that stuff the papers are always banging on about'.

So a few days later they set off from London to a carefully selected hospital in North Yorkshire and spend the day walking around and talking to the staff. At 5:30 in the afternoon they left the hospital and wandered round the corner to the nearest pub.

Now, mindful that one of the first rules of politics is to create a caring and approachable image, the advisors at No. 10 had decided that the pub visit would look a lot more relaxed and natural if the politicos had a dog in tow; so they had supplied Brown and Johnson with a lovely Golden Labrador, guaranteed to melt hearts and, more importantly, not to growl or bite anyone.

So, accompanied by the dog, they went into the lounge bar.
'Good evening Landlord, two pints of your best bitter please' said Brown.
'Good evening Prime Minister' said the landlord, 'two pints of best coming up'.
Brown and Johnson stood leaning on the bar talking about their day in the hospital, nodding now and again to those who came in for a drink, whilst the dog lay quietly at their feet. As they drank their beer they chatted loudly about the high priority they were giving to the NHS, how they were finally going to give the medical profession the tools they needed for the job, and free them from the dead hand of bureaucratic NHS management.

All of a sudden, the door from the adjacent bar opened and in came a young doctor they had seen earlier in the A&E department. He walked up to the Labrador, lifted its tail and looked underneath, shrugged his shoulders in a mystified way and walked back to the other bar. A few moments later, in came a young nurse who did the very same. To the bewilderment of Brown and Johnson, a steady stream of hospital staff of all ages and seniority followed suit.

Eventually, after an hour or so. unable to stand it any longer, Johnson called the landlord over. 'Tell me' asked Johnson,'Why are all these people coming in and looking under the dog's tail like that? Is it some sort of local custom?’.

'Nay lad,' said the landlord, trying hard to stifle a snigger.'It's t'hospital's 'ead of Surgery. 'Ee's in t'other bar telling anyone who'll listen that there's a Labrador in t'lounge wi' two arseholes'.


A cheerful Prime Minister
and his Health Minister.
That's alright then.

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