I don't know whether anyone has asked recently, but where did this habit (for that is what it is becoming) of clapping the Secretaries of State in and out come from? It somewhat resembles the People's Republic of North Korea.
On Friday at BERR an e-mail went round to say John Hutton would be leaving at 1.30. The masses duly gathered to clap/say their goodbyes or just waste half an hour only for him to walk out of the front of the office to discover that his car was at the back.
A further e-mail went round to say that Mandy would be arriving at 4.30 to be followed up by a tannoy announcement. Weren't there large enough crowds there for the welcome without the tannoy? Another half hour or so wasted.
Just over a year ago a friend of mine happened to have an appointment at DCSF which shares a building with DWP when James Purnell was due to arrive at his new Ministry. He had moved from DCMS. No such mass of people there (they clearly don't do it so well or was it the personalities that required a welcoming party) just a nervous Permanent Secretary and Private Secretary waiting on the pavement and my friend and one of his staff in the entrance hall.
A complaint has now been made to Gus O'Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary, about Mandy's 'clapping in' as cameras were present and it could be construed as verging on the party political.
It should be mentioned that in his previous stint at the DTI, Peter Mandelson was a very popular Secretary of State with his officials.