?WhatIf! More like WTF, as in 'WTF is a purveyor of new-age psychobabble through a company of that name* doing in 10, Downing Street?' It's like a frightening throwback to the days of Carole Caplin - any minute now Cameron's rubber mask will slip and we'll see that he was really Tony Blair in disguise all along.
Here in the Tavern, we normally try to moderate our language but even we are reduced to Anglo-Saxon profanity in the case of Cameron's newest recruit. According to the Times, Australian psychologist Kris Murrin (as seen on TV) is to be 'in charge of ensuring the Prime Minister's policies are delivered and that staff work effectively'.
So far, so reasonable. But Ms Murrin's methods are somewhat unorthodox - when she's not confronting weeping parents with grotesque images of their obese, diseased children half a century hence (Honey, We're Killing the Kids - BBC) - she's showing office workers how to "build a personal bravery plan" and "fill their minds with freshness".
Her methods have included shamanic rituals, African drumming, fortune-telling and temporary tattoos. And the benefits are as tangible as the Emperor's new clothes; according to her (inevitable) self-help book, "Nobody tries to explain what we get out of it directly - it's understood. It's our freshness store cupboard".
Her book describes a role-playing exercise with employees of a food retailer in which she "made a wok out of beanbags and asked them to act out being a stir fry". Participants were "a bit uncomfortable at first" - surely not! - but "soon overcame their shyness and were throwing themselves into the wok".
Since this kind of exercise is likely to be the first casualty of projected cuts, its creators are looking for another source of income. Turns out Ms Murrin's a bit of a canny political operator, working on a school food quango and as an 'associate of Tony Blair's delivery unit', whatever that may be (White vans? Babies?) while acting as a consultant to the Conservatives.
Well, some of them, at any rate - when she proposed psychometric testing for the shadow cabinet, one Conservative MP said he was not prepared to be subjected to a "mumbo-jumbo psychobabble experiment". Well said, that man!
So here's a bit of free advice for David Cameron. Firstly, if you're cutting the public sector to the bone, people won't take kindly to "stimulus sessions" and "freshness store cupboards" at Number 10. And secondly, if you're looking for sensible people for Cabinet posts, be very, very wary of anyone who actually wants to be a beansprout.
*As their website has it, 'The focus here is on the systematic design of addictive customer experiences'. Sample case study: 'Helping Boots' Medicine Customers Buy Better, and Buy More' .
Yep, folks, that's what we really need - more medicine!
The Book of St Richard, Chapter 25
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