Go back

Summer wind


Ivory Tower: Exclusive access to the Tories’ higher education and research WhatsApp group

George4PM: As the Conservative Party’s brains trust on science and universities, I have drawn us together to discuss the merits of each of the leadership candidates and conclude why we should all vote for Penny Mordaunt.

LordJo-Jo: Thank God, I don’t have a vote.

SkidsOnNetZero: Yeah, look who you voted for last time.

LordJo-Jo: I resigned from the government.

George4PM: We all resigned from the government.

LevelUpGove: Some of us were sacked.

SkidsOnNetZero: More than once.

SirGavin: George, looking at your handle, are you running for the leadership?

SollowayDerby: I thought someone said ‘brains’ trust. What’s he doing here?

George4PM: No, Gavin, I’m backing Penny Mordaunt.

LordJo-Jo: Pity you weren’t so vocal on associating with Horizon.

Kwasi4Truss: I’m now in charge of Europe.

SollowayDerby: Smart career move.

[10.21 Michelle Donelan has joined the group]

George4PM: Hi, Michelle we are just discussing the leadership contest.

[10.22 Michelle Donelan has left the group]

ToryNadZ: If you all think education is a priority for the government, can I just say how disappointed I am so few of you voted for me.

SirGavin: No one voted for you.

TheyCallMeCleverly: You’ve left me to deal with another A-level results fiasco.

ToryNadZ: Which one of us are you talking to James?

Kwasi4Truss: I think we can all make up our own minds.

SirGavin: It wasn’t me.

Kwasi4Truss: I mean about who to vote for in the leadership contest.

EducatingAndrea: Let’s hear George out, as to why he thinks we should all vote for that two-faced, woke, ego-centric floozy.

ToryNadZ: Steady on, Andrea, keep it civil.

EducatingAndrea: Swivel on this posh boy.

SollowayDerby: We need to speak to one another in a non-intimidating way.

EducatingAndrea: Free speech, innit.

George4PM: Well, I think Penny is attractive for two reasons.

Kwasi4Truss: Ooooooo!

SirGavin: Not as attractive as the Queen, who is absolutely stunning.

George4PM: I mean attractive, politically.

EducatingAndrea: Yeah, right.

George4PM: Because she supported Brexit.

TheyCallMeCleverly: Unlike you.

George4PM: And she knows about the science citations index.

SollowayDerby: Does she?

GeorgePM: She told me she had seen a fair few ratings in her time.

TheyCallMeCleverly: I’m behind Liz Truss.

ToryNadZ: Explains a lot.

TheyCallMeCleverly: I mean I’ll be voting for her.

SirGavin: Has she offered you a job?

TheyCallMeCleverly: Yeah, she promised to get me out of education.

SollowayDerby: Who would she put in charge of the DfE then?

EducatingAndrea: I’ve got one finger up and it’s pointing at me.

SkidsOnNetZero: Dear God, save us, Rishi!

SirGavin: I’m backing Rishi, but I wouldn’t say he was that good.

ToryNadZ: Have you seen the mess the economy is in, who’s responsible for that?

Kwasi4Truss: Labour?

[10.41 Michelle Donelan has joined the group]

ToryNadZ: Is everything ok, Michelle?

SoSDonelan: Can’t stay long.

SollowayDerby: That’s what they call you at the DfE.

GeorgePM: Now that Nadhim is out the race, who are you backing Michelle?

SoSDonelan: I have asked the people who put me here who I should vote for.

Kwasi4Truss: And what did Dominic Cummings and Boris Johnson say?

SoSDonelan: The people of Chippenham.

SirGavin: Are they standing?

SollowayDerby: It’s going to be a bit of a squeeze at the 22 committee.

SoSDonelan: I mean, I’ve been taking soundings from my constituents on who they want to be the next prime minister.

ToryNadZ: What did they say?

SoSDonelan: Keir Starmer.

LordJo-Jo: To be fair, he’d make a great leader of the Conservative Party.

PaisleyGirl: Not if I can help it.

ToryNadZ: I thought this was an education brains’ trust.

PaisleyGirl: I used to do childcare.

SollowayDerby: Overpromoted.

PaisleyGirl: I was a minister in the DfE.

ToryNadZ: It’s the brains rather that the education part that worried me.

PaisleyGirl: You can’t have an education trust without the Truster. Now that I’m leading the free world in the fight against Vladimir Putin, it should be easy to guide you in making the right choice for PM.

George4PM: I’m choosing PM.

TheyCallMeCleverly: Leading the free world? Who do you think you are, Joe Biden?

EducatingAndrea: Fake news #ProTrump.

PaisleyGirl: I’ve got a great backstory. The things my mum and dad used to say to me!

ToryNadZ: Ban the bomb?

SollowayDerby: Liz, what happened to you?

PaisleyGirl: Yes, they say that a lot.

SkidsOnNetZero: I think Rishi Sunak would be best for the environment.

SoSDonelan: Have you heard what they say about him in the tea rooms?

PaisleyGirl: Toxic.

SirGavin: That’s a bit harsh.

PaisleyGirl: No, I thought you wanted to know my environmental policy.

LevelUpGove: I think Kemi Badenoch would make a great prime minister.

SirGavin: He’s started early.

TheyCallMeCleverly: Been sniffing at the snowflakes again?

SollowayDerby: Actually, that was Suella Braverman.

George4PM: If we can’t all agree yet that Penny Mordaunt is clearly the best candidate, maybe we can agree on what her priorities should be when prime minister.

SoSDonelan: Jobs.

George4PM: As part of the skills and productivity agenda?

SoSDonelan: No, for all of us. Don’t make me go back to the benches.

SkidsOnNetZero: It’s OK. Once I joined the back benches again, I found that all my troubles were gone.

SirGavin: Along with all hope and ambition.

Kwasi4Truss: It is very clear what the new PM’s priority should be.

George4PM: Science?

TheyCallMeCleverly: Educational catchup?

EducatingAndrea: Revenge?

Kwasi4Truss: Not being Boris. Unless we can turn things around, we could all lose our seats.

PaisleyGirl: Cripes! Blimey! I’m definitely not continuity Boris. Cogito ergo sum, in vino veritas, et tu Brute?

TheyCallMeCleverly: No, sadly not.

George4PM: I despair. Is there no one who can unite this party?

BigDogBoris: Greetings Tory boffins, sorry I’m late. As a former higher education spokesman, I’m sure you’ll want to know what I have to say.

LordJo-Jo: Awkward.

BigDogBoris: Now that I’ve been stabbed in the back by all you snakeroonies, I’ve got more time to spend having technology lessons.

SollowayDerby: That’s what we feared.

BigDogBoris: Listen, whoever wins, whether it’s Liz Truss or someone we don’t know about yet, I would be happy to come back and serve as secretary of state for education. There’s unfinished business in the DfE.

TheyCallMeCleverly: The Life-Long Entitlement?

EducatingAndrea: Free speech?

SirGavin: Bring back Latin?

BigDogBoris: No, the Christmas party wasn’t nearly wild enough last year. No one even got fined for it. Talk about not being able to organise a…

GeorgePM has left the group.

LordJo-Jo has left the group.

SollowayDerby has left the group.

ToryNadZ has left the group.

LevelUpGove has left the group.

SirGavin has left the group.

SoSDonelan has left the group.

SkidsOnNetZero has left the group.

BigDogBoris: Was it something I said?

Kwasi4Truss: Yes.

Kwasi4Truss has left the group.

BigDogBoris: Abandoned! Is there no one I can turn to in my darkest hour?

EducatingAndrea: Am I allowed to tell them what I think of them?

BigDogBoris: Er… probably not a good idea.

BigDogBoris has left the group.

TheyCallMeCleverly: Just you and me then, Andrea. By the way, when will the results be known?

EducatingAndrea: 5 September.

TheyCallMeCleverly: Seems a bit late for A Levels.

Terms of use: this is a free email for fun on a Friday. It should be shared widely—like votes to stop a leadership rival making it onto the final ballot. Want to be education secretary for 15 minutes? Want to say hello? Email ivorytower@researchresearch.com