Late last night news began to emerge of a junior minister likely to be ‘outed’ in the near future as an evidence user. As rumours began to spread speculation mounted as to the identity of the minister involved.
This morning speculation ended as Brian Goodbody came forward to announce that he was the minister at the heart of the gossip. Flanked by his wife and a colleague from the Whip’s Office Mr. Goodbody read a prepared statement.
‘This is an enormously difficult moment for me personally and professionally. I have recently started counselling to help me with a growing dependence on evidence use. I want to apologise to the Prime Minister, Party colleagues, my family but most of all to my constituents for my failure to live up to the standards you rightly expect of me. I have let all of you down.’
He then went on to describe his descent into evidence addiction.
‘I was approached soon after taking office and was offered some evidence. I was finding it difficult to adjust to being a minister. I was missing my family and finding that issuing assertion based press releases was no longer a sufficient outlet for me as a member of the government. Although I refused at first I eventually weakened and used evidence a couple of times in ministerial questions. Of course, having got away with it once or twice I became more daring and took greater risks. I used evidence enthusiastically during the recent party conference.’
Mr. Goodbody credited his wife with helping him face up to his new-found addiction. ‘Fiona has been a rock for me during this difficult time. She insisted that I needed outside help to fight this problem. I now realise that evidence use is entirely inconsistent with my duties as a minister in this coalition government. I am therefore stepping down with immediate effect. I ask that the media now respect our privacy as a family as we work on my evidence use together.’
Party members were understood to be dismayed and shocked by Mr Goodbody’s statement. A senior backbench colleague, who did not want to be named said, ‘Tom’s been a fool and he knows it. Of course we suspected something. I mean a guy goes from aping meaningless sound bites, using assertion and half-truth to make a point to being a cogent and thoughtful person. You’re going to be suspicious are you?’
Coalition grandees were particularly scathing with some claiming that while evidence use had been rife under the previous government the coalition had taken rapid steps to stamp it out.
‘It’s always the same,’ said one old hand. ‘You’re a new person and you want to fit in so you start using evidence socially and then, before you know it, it’s taken over your personal and professional life.’
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said a formal investigation is unlikely. ‘Frankly,’ he said, ‘we’re quite busy trying to avoid investigating anything at the minute. The paperwork is murder.’
A spokesman for the Prime Minister said that he was saddened by the news but made it clear that while some may tolerate limited evidence use for social purposes this was completely unacceptable for anyone in his government. The spokesman was able to reassure reporters that no senior figure had an evidence habit. ‘Just look at our policies,’ he said, ‘they knock the notion that any Cabinet Minister is an evidence user on the head’