Politics has been quite the spectator sport in recent years. Whatever your point of view it’s been impossible to ignore – and many have tried! There has, however, been one notable bonus amidst the daily machinations of our body politic; one shining beacon amongst the seemingly endless voting and cries of “Order!” from Mr Speaker; one cohort of dedicated public servants that have carried out their collective duty to the utmost. I speak, of course, of the Westminster cats.
Who else is in Larry’s gang?
Whatever the occasion, you can rest assured that one of Larry, the Downing Street cat, Palmerston, chief mouser at the Foreign Office, Gladstone, principal puss at the Treasury, or Evie and Ossie at the Cabinet Office, can be relied upon to convey the precise amount of feline insouciance needed to counteract the worst excesses of their political paymasters. Whether it be subliminally drawing attention to the climate change agenda by waiting impatiently in the rain outside number 10, the cunning use of direct action to impede the progress of The Beast on POTUS’s most recent visit to London or providing a sideways commentary on post-Brexit border protocols through the metric of annual mouse kills (see FOI request ref: 0201-18), these cats can be relied upon to deliver upon their manifesto commitments.
Larry rules the roost
Larry, of course, is the main attraction. As holder of the principal job he has the kind of access Laura Kuenssberg can only dream of. Whilst Downing Street is his usual parish he has also been spotted as far away as the Treasury – no doubt to argue the finer points of neoclassical endogenous growth theory over a can of mackerel fillets with Gladstone who, to put it mildly, doesn’t quite share Larry’s view of the world. In public they present a united front and were once seen licking agreeably at a discarded ice cream code one summer’s day. It didn’t altogether agree with them though and ever since they’ve been careful to avoid dairy.
The fur starts to fly!
Behind the scenes is where the flattened ears and raised fur have been observed. Those close to both cats trace the bad feeling back to a rather tasty chicken liver supper they once shared back at a time when the world looked new and full of possibilities. According to legend, Gladstone was assured that the Downing Street beat would one day be his. Whilst accepting that Larry had a more photogenic quality and was certainly more comfortable in front of the press pack, Gladstone was always a master of his brief and could reel off the number of mice he had caught on a per-quarter basis with ease. Unfortunately, Gladstone had a fatal flaw – a certain creativeness when it came to statistics.
Larry plans to go on and on…
The infamous “Night of the Scurrying Rodents” is still talked about to this day. The next morning the total count was presented as 27 and yet on closer inspection a certain amount of double-counting appeared to have taken place. Voles featured in the mice ledger and rats were recorded both as “vermin destroyed” and “intruders apprehended”. This degree of economy with the actualité was always likely to sour relations further so the two cats remained within their separate courts, increasingly hostile towards each other and seemingly unable to hide their differences. Maybe one day Gladstone will get his chance. But Larry is apparently not for turning and has no plans to step down as resident top cat any time soon.