To the People of Haiti, I apologise
Shortly after the earthquake in Haiti, Gordon Brown announced that he had “purchased all of the UK’s available corrugated iron sheets to provide shelters for victims of the Haiti earthquake”.
So far, so good. UK doing what it can for the people of Haiti, wouldn’t you say?
The move would provide ‘2,000 homeless families in Haiti with hurricane proof shelter’. Still so far, so good, yes?
Then we find out that the total purchase was 5,700 sheets. What? The total stock of corrugated iron in the UK (who invented the stuff) is a mere 5,700 sheets? You have got to be joking!
It took some time to get to the bottom of this one. Several of the largest corrugated iron manufacturers were contacted.
So, a pretty universal derision at the initial statement from our Gordon!
You may be homeless, you may be in desperate straits, but there are rules and regulations to be abided by, according to DfID …
“Britain has International agreements which govern the size and thickness of the corrugated sheets we are allowed to donate. Anything else would apparently cause confusion as you attempt to shelter from the rain and the winds under a collection of sheets that were not altogether uniform in size with those arriving from, say France, or the USA. You might not care about such things, but the civil servants in charge of these matters do.”
What Gordon Brown meant to say was, “2,000 Haiti families will be sheltering under precisely 2 and 8/10th of a sheet each of the only corrugated iron currently in stock by one particular manufacturer that meets the tensile strength and size requirements laid down by bored civil servants at some time in the past and I consider this something worth boasting about”.