I see the Umbrella Minister, Veronica Squif, has caused a bit of a stir with her decision not to attend the Compact Annual Meeting because she disagrees with the venue. The Compact is a small foldaway brolly designed to fit in your handbag or briefcase and is used by umbrella organisations to threaten the government. The meeting of all those connected with the Compact, which has recently been redesigned and refreshed, was held at London Transport's lost property office. But Squif said she couldn't go as she is patron of CUPS (Captive Umbrella Protection Society) and she couldn't set foot in a building which glorified in keeping umbrellas locked up. She did, however, send a message via her butler: "The government will not be held captive by the umbrella sector and its so-called Compact. The only refreshed Compact I am interested in is my new make-up kit and I keep that securely in my handbag."
Cynics have said that Squif was making excuses so as not to face a hostile audience after she pulled the plug on the umbrella campaigning fund last year. But I have some sympathy with her. I have on many occasions refused to attend meetings on a point of principle. For example, I am not going to one today on umbrella gift aid reform because they are not providing a lunch. I also see no point in engaging with the HMRC who seem intent on collecting as much tax as possible to spend on the country and stuff. Anyone would think it was their job to maximise tax revenues, especially at a time when the government faces a challenge in meeting public expenditure commitments. I want it both ways. Give us the money and don't cut services but don't enforce the means with which to fund these things.