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Quitting No:11

Quitting Number.11

People have been surprised that Norman Lamont and John Major did not exchange letters in the normal way when Mr Lamont left the Treasury, but there was a very good reason for this. Contrary to rumour, Mr Lamont did write, but found it extremely hard to complete his letter of resignation and finally left it unsent.

We have been privileged to secure copies of the rejected version, and students of political history will find it fascinating to see how the letter evolved from draft to draft.

Draft 1: Dear John…

Draft 2: Dear Prime Minister…

Draft 3. Dear Major…

Draft 4. You bastard…

Draft 5. Dear John, As you know, I have been intending for a long time to devote more of my time to ping-pong, and it is with a heavy heart…

Draft 6. Dear John, As you know, I have been saying for so long that the recession is over that you yourself seem to have come to believe it. May I urge you at the last moment to believe me that things are, if anything, worse than ever, and it would be fatal to start chopping and changing now that…

Draft 7. Dear John, if you give Kenneth Clarke my job, I shall tell everyone what really happened on Black Wednesday…

Draft 8. Dear John, I cannot believe that any government can be taken seriously which seeks to get credit from a Cabinet reshuffle that involves not only my demotion but the promotion of John Selwyn Gummer, the man who makes one long for a church in which only women can be ordained…

Draft 9. Dear John, As you know, I have been thinking seriously for a long time of devoting more of my life to playing charades. On the other hand, as I have spent the last two years playing non-stop charades, and nobody has yet guessed what message I am meant to be portraying…

Draft 10. Dear John Major, During my years as Chancellor I have picked up some very interesting financial details about some of the other members of the Cabinet, and I wonder if you would be interested in making it worth my while…

Draft 11. Dear John, I wonder if you remember the episode when I had to evict an unsavoury character from my flat in London? I am beginning to understand, after the last few days, just how she felt. I wonder if you also remember that the Treasury kindly offered to help with the bills for the legal costs incurred at that time?

Draft 12. Dear John, You will have to come into No 11 and get me. I am not coming out. I am armed. I am the Son of God. The people in here with me will fight to the death rather than surrender.

I am going to talk to God again tonight. He will tell me how to get inflation down. You are doomed. I am saved…

Draft 13. Dear John, There are one or two financial details which are still not cleared up at this time as I leave 11 Downing Street, and I would be grateful for your help in this respect.

First, if there are any bills from tradesmen such as Thresher, Access, etc, please forward them immediately as I hate to leave bills unpaid.

Second, someone will get in touch with you about an overdue bill called public spending deficit. One of your new colleagues will explain to you what this is. I recommend that you pay it off as soon as you can, maybe with Visa. Get someone to explain to you how Visa works. Get someone to explain to you how anything works…

Draft 14. Dear John, Beware. You must be on your guard. You are in great danger. Someone called Michael is out to get you. I cannot say more…

Draft 15. Dear John, May I say what a great pleasure it has been to work with you over these past few years, and how pleased I am to have been part of the team that has fought so hard, etc(see the letter Norman Fowler wrote to you at the time of his resignation for further sickening platitudes along these lines).

Meanwhile, you may be interested to learn that before leaving the Treasury for ever, I have installed certain viruses in certain computer programs which, unless checked, will lead to the total breakdown of Government spending plans before the next election. It is no use looking for them. They are untraceable. Only I can cure it. And I will do so on the following conditions…

Independent Monday 31st May 1993

© Caroline Kington