Dispatches from Westminster Greggs: dead cats, Big Dog and top-secret codenames
An oD contact found this tattered document in a steak bake two weeks ago. A massive hangover has prevented verification
What follows is a flight of fancy but you can read our serious reporting on this issue here.
Report of the Top Secret Sub-Committee on the Naming of the Top Secret Operation to Save the Prime Minister
Remit: Come up with a name for the top secret operation to make sure [REDACTED] doesn’t lose his job over [REDACTED], [REDACTED] and [REDACTED] and cheese. [REDACTED] is keen that the name is “sick” or even indeed “banging”. Senior figures were asked to submit their suggestions for names for the operation and the panel met to review them in a purely work event setting. Please forgive the pinot noir stains.
Option 1: Operation Save the PM
Help us uncover the truth about Covid-19
The Covid-19 public inquiry is a historic chance to find out what really happened.
This has the virtues of clarity and simplicity but is slightly flawed as far as secret codenames go because it just says what it is.
Option 2: Operation Save You Know Who
This is getting there in terms of being mysterious but it’s not very “sick” and the panel felt there was a good chance that at least half the Cabinet wouldn’t understand who the “who” was.
Option 3A: Rishi 4 PM
The panel were puzzled by this one as instead of an explanation for the choice of name there was a long rambling set of phrases along the theme of: “I myself would never seek high office yadda yadda yadda but if for the good of the nation blah blah blah take on the heavy burden. Plus I can afford to pay for my own wallpaper.” A call from the Chancellor’s office quickly resolved matters. Apparently, his submission to us was sent in error to the 1922 Committee, who are currently poring over it. It’s titled ‘Operation Total Loyalty’.
Option 3B: Liz For PM
The panel assumed that this was the similar case to the above but, no, it appears that the Foreign Secretary just didn’t understand the question. We did try to use short words in the request we sent out. Maybe we should use more diagrams next time.
Option 4: My Dayz at teh Zoo [sic]
All that was supplied with this option was a crayon drawing of what might have been a cow, or a lion or maybe a unicorn plus some brown smudges which might have been elephants or monkeys. Some lines which might have been bars completed the scene. The panel thanks the Deputy PM for his submission.
Option 5: Operation Make A Coat From Puppies
We thought the name was a bit macabre but on further reading it turned out to be not just the suggested name of the operation but the Home Secretary’s whole plan for addressing the current crisis.
Option 6: Operation Sod The Jocks
The panel felt that this might cause issues with the Scottish Party and decided to run it past the Scottish Secretary. Unfortunately none of us could quite remember who he was so we ditched it.
Option 7: Operation Dead Cat
Now we’re getting somewhere. This suggestion caused lots of excitement. It’s sexy, mysterious, intriguing. Unease entered into the conversation when it was suggested that our opponents might have seen it before and be wise to it. Further unease was raised by the comment that themes of death might not be the most appropriate for a fight for survival so the name was dropped. (Ditto Operations Dead Dog, Dead Swing, Dead Suitcase, Dead Wine and Dawn Of The Dead.) But we really liked the idea of using an animal in the name.
Option 8: Operation Be Nice To Cats
While we initially liked this one a member of the panel pointed out that all cats are conscienceless sociopaths who sire unnumbered amounts of young so it might be a bit close to the bone. A cat-lover objected to this characterisation in strenuous terms and after a minor exchange of blows the idea was parked.
Option 9: Operation Операция
We think this one came from a donor so would ordinarily have OKed it immediately but we couldn’t quite understand it so they might have to settle for a peerage instead.
Option 10: A suitcase of wine
Turns out this wasn’t a suggestion but just a lunch order
Option 11: Rescue a nice animal
On the right track but too vague.
Option 12: Operation Lying Shopping Trolley
Can someone ask IT to make sure Dom doesn’t still have access to our systems, please?
Option 13: Operation Save Big Dog
Perfect. Job done. The boss is safe. It’ll all work out fine now.
Why should you care about freedom of information?
From coronation budgets to secretive government units, journalists have used the Freedom of Information Act to expose corruption and incompetence in high places. Tony Blair regrets ever giving us this right. Today's UK government is giving fewer and fewer transparency responses, and doing it more slowly. But would better transparency give us better government? And how can we get it?
Join our experts for a free live discussion at 5pm UK time on 15 June.
Claire Miller Data journalism and FOI expert
Martin Rosenbaum Author of ‘Freedom of Information: A Practical Guidebook’; former BBC political journalist
Jenna Corderoy Investigative reporter at openDemocracy and visiting lecturer at City University, London
Chair: Ramzy Alwakeel Head of news at openDemocracy
We’ve got a newsletter for everyone
Get our weekly email
CommentsWe encourage anyone to comment, please consult the oD commenting guidelines if you have any questions.