This article is from the June 2012 issue of Total Politics
I forget the exact date I cursed IPSA with a fiery focus I normally save for more pleasant endeavours, but I do know it was a sunny day and, once again, every food outlet on the parliamentary estate was serving something in jerk sauce. These days, the constant changing of the rules without notification aside, IPSA’s level of competence is currently average.
However, I still do everything in my power to have as little interaction with them as possible. Not always easy when you’re working in a Westminster office and IPSA owns your soul. The trick, I’ve found, is to turn it onto a game. Yes, MPs are all tarred with the same money-wasting brush, but it might surprise some outsiders just how far a staffer will go to keep the office budget down.
Now, I’m not talking about using vouchers, or picking up coins to save for a new pack of post-its or extra-durable elastic bands. I’m talking about taking what you can get, when you can get it. Law of the jungle stuff.
Do you know how many paper-cups you can take from the Debate restaurant, in Portcullis House, before someone stops you? Twenty-eight, tried and tested. Isn’t it irritating when you use a communal photocopier and it’s run out of paper? The reason? Because I don’t want to order white paper when I can take it, Mission Impossible-style, when no one is watching.
Of course I save humming the theme tune for when I’m taking wads of green-headed paper from Members Only areas.
Some days it feels like Parliament was built on waste, and, in a morally skewed way, I just can’t contribute to that unnecessarily. That won’t stop me from taking advantage of it, though.