DAVID CAMERON is standing in front of NICK CLEGG and TWO SMARTLY DRESSED WOMEN. They are seated, while Cameron stands, like a teacher addressing a class.
Cameron is holding a marker pen. Next to him, there’s a stand with a flip chart. The cover page reads NHS LISTENING EXERCISES.
CAMERON Ladies and gentlemen of the Cabinet and the NHS. I think we all know why we’re here…
CLEGG (eagerly putting hand in air) Ooh, ooh, I know, Mr Cameron! I know!
CAMERON Yes, Clegg?
CLEGG It’s to practice our listening exercises!
CAMERON That’s right, Clegg!
WOMAN 1 Where’s Lansley?
CAMERON I’m sorry?
WOMAN 1 Where’s Andrew Lansley? The Health Secretary?
CAMERON (rattled) He’s, er, off sick.
WOMAN 2 Nothing serious, I hope.
WOMAN 2 I said: nothing serious.
CAMERON No, no. Just compassionate leave… (regaining command) Because that’s what this new government is all about – COMPASSION!
He flips over the flip chart: at the top, the word COMPASSION is written at the top of the next page.
CAMERON See? And because we have COMPASSION, we’ve agreed to listen to U…
He writes the letter U under the letter C of COMPASSION
CAMERON ..the public, about the NHS…
He writes NHS so that the N is under the U (which is under the C)
He writes TOTALLY under NHS so that the T is under the N…
He writes SELECTIVELY under TOTALLY so that the S is under the T.
CAMERON (throwing the pen down) Because obviously we’re not going to listen to everyone! That would be madness, ha!
Clegg laughs a little too loudly/obsequiously.
CAMERON Now, in order to do this, we need to practice the Listening Exercises – or rather: the Selective Listening Exercises – that Clegg here announced this week. For this, I’d like you all to adopt the first position…
He flips over the page to reveal a cartoonish head drawn with its fingers in its ears. Above it is written: SELECTIVE LISTENING: FIRST POSITION
CLEGG and the TWO WOMEN put their fingers in their ears.
CAMERON I am now going to put forward one of the whiney arguments against our NHS reforms and you’re going to not listen…
WOMAN 1 What?
CAMERON I said: I am now going to put forward…
CLEGG We can’t hear you!
CAMERON Well, if you took your fingers out of your ears while I gave you the instructions…
WOMAN 2 (aside to WOMAN 1) I don’t know why they got rid of Andy Coulson. He was VERY good at listening to people.
CAMERON (getting angry) I SAID: IF YOU TOOK YOUR FINGERS OUT OF YOUR EARS WHILE…
CLEGG/WOMEN Nope, still can’t hear you!/Pardon?/What?/etc
CAMERON (losing his temper) Look!! You’re NOT LISTENING! (A beat. And suddenly he smiles) And that’s absolutely marvellous!
They all smile.