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THE MINISTER’S NEW POLICIES Adapted from Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes" Lewis Barclay

THE MINISTER’S NEW POLICIES Once upon a time, in a far, far away kingdom, there lived a lugubrious registrar by the name of Mario Killjoy who aspired to be the most powerful and influential man in the land. So he stood for election to the office of Chief Minister of the Kingdom, but Killjoy was not elected. So he stood for election a second time. The economy had begun to slow down, and the incumbent Chief Minister would not admit it at first. Surely Killjoy would win now. Alas, it was not to be, for he was not elected. It seemed that Killjoy was not destined for the office he so ardently desired to assume. With time the economic situation became a crisis. Businesses went bust, people lost their jobs, salaries went down and prices went up. The Chief Minister, after months in denial, finally realised the Kingdom had no money and had no choice but to reduce expenditure and increase taxation. The measures were extremely unpopular, and the people began to believe the Chief Minister was incapable of remedying their ills. Killjoy saw his chance. He stepped forward, denounced the Chief Minister for an irresponsible incompetent who was leading the Kingdom to its ruin and claimed that only he, Killjoy, could save the land from impending disaster. In their distress the people listened to him and began to believe his words. Killjoy’s ratings in the public opinion polls began to rise. At last his dream of becoming Chief Minister seemed to be about to be realised. However, there was a problem. Despite his assurances that he was the saviour the Kingdom needed, Killjoy would not explain just how he would save the Kingdom. Sceptics began to suspect that he did not explain his policies because he did not have any. Killjoy’s chances for election hung in the balance once again. One night two mysterious gentlemen appeared at Killjoy’s residence and asked to see him. They said that they had something that would immeasurably help him win the elections. So they were let in and granted an interview. The gentlemen handed him a blue notebook and told him that it contained the policies that would end the crisis. But when he opened the notebook, Killjoy saw there was nothing written inside. “Of course,” one of the visitors said, noting Killjoy’s expression of surprise, “the policies are not visible to fools or knaves.” “Of course,” Killjoy agreed, and asked them how much they wished for the notebook. The gentlemen named their sum (an exorbitant one but worth it), and Killjoy had them paid and seen out, and the Party treasurer cook the Party’s books. Election victory was now his. The next day Killjoy called a press conference. He had the notebook circulated among the journalists and told them to look at the policies he proposed to implement. “They are visible to everybody,” he said, “except fools and knaves.” Naturally the journalists were able to read them, and loud were they in their praises of their sound economic sense. Copies of the notebooks were made and published in the media and posted on the Internet. Soon there was no one in the Kingdom who had not read the policies and

approved of them (although there was great variance regarding what those policies actually were). It was soon crystal clear that Killjoy was the man for their hour of need. The elections came, and Killjoy duly won (third time lucky) and obtained an absolute majority. Everybody in the land could now look to the future in a mood of quiet optimism. Far from improving, however, the economic crisis worsened. More businesses went bust, more people lost their jobs, salaries plummeted and prices soared. Worse still, spending cuts deepened and taxation made heavier. It soon became apparent that the new Chief Minister was not merely carrying out the same policies as the previous one, but intensifying them as well. Worse still, they began to doubt what they had read in the notebook. Had it all been a hallucination? One day Killjoy went to Parliament to explain his latest measures. As he got out of his official car, the blue notebook slipped out from under his arm and fell before the journalists outside the Parliament Building, open at one of the pages. At that moment a little boy, who had been loitering nearby, dashed forward, glanced at the notebook and proclaimed before the TV cameramen, “He’s got no policies!” At first everybody laughed at him. “The boy’s a fool,” one journalist said. “Or a knave,” said another. But the boy was not put off. “He’s got no policies,” he repeated. Everybody took a look at the notebook, and first one agreed with the little boy, then another, and another, and another. Soon everybody was saying, “He’s got no policies.” As Killjoy’s arrival was being televised live, everyone in the land knew that he had no policies. And from their luxury apartment in Monaco the two mysterious gentlemen took delight in Killjoy’s predicament on their flat-screen and the millions they had stashed away in an offshore bank. Meanwhile businesses continued to close, people continued to lose their jobs, salaries continued to drop and prices and taxes continued to rise

The Minister's New Policies  

Free adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's well-known classic cautionary tale for hard times