Ah, Jacob Rees-Mogg. The Old Etonian sometimes appears to have been designed by top lab scientists at CCHQ to perfectly antagonise the Sir Humphreys of SW1. Since his appointment as the Minister for Government Efficiency in February, every announcement by the Somerset MP seems calculated to enrage the civil service trade unions, keen to retain Covid-era hybrid working practices. For the Moggstar has been on a one-man war around Whitehall, rampaging around the Cabinet Office, decrying those mandarins who stubbornly refuse to abandon working from home.
As part of this crusade to get back to the offices, Rees-Mogg last month toured his department and left calling cards on the empty desks of absent civil servants. 'Sorry you were out when I visited,' they said 'I look forward to seeing you in the office very soon.' Their discovery subsequently prompted a deluge of rage on Twitter from the usual suspects, enraged that a minister would dare to leave a courteous note for his officials. The fact that it took 48 hours for the note to be discovered perhaps told its own story...
Some of the commentariat asked about the cost of such calling cards, keen to portray Rees-Mogg as a spendthrift hypocrite. But it transpires that the Minister for Government Efficiency really is living up to his title. For according to a Freedom of Information request to the Cabinet Office just 'three notes were produced and left on unoccupied desks. The cost to the taxpayer was negligible (i.e. less than £1), consisting of the printing ink and the costs of the card. No further direct costs were incurred.'
All that fuss about three pieces of paper. As one source remarked to Mr S: 'Quite a big return on investment.'