Amidst the sober economic analysis and commitment to cutting the deficit, we were treated to another Eric Pickles fat joke during chancellor George Osborne's speech at the Conservative party conference:
"Economic advisor to Gordon Brown. I'm not sure I'd put that on my CV if I was Ed Balls," he quipped, "It's like personal trainer to Eric Pickles."
These jibes aimed at the overweight communities secretary appear to have become obligatory asides for the leaders of the coalition government. At last year's conferences we heard prime minister David Cameron refer to him as "the big man on the side of the people" and Nick Clegg describe him as the "only cabinet minister you can spot on Google earth".
This ribaldry is just a bit of gentle fun we are told, and indicative of the affection and esteem in which the Yorkshireman is held by his bosses. Only the PC-brigade, the humourless liberal fascists who want to cleanse public discourse of anything remotely funny or offensive could object to the occasional poke in the ribs for fatty Pickles.
Personally, I don't find it an edifying sight when the patrician trio of Cameron, Osborne and Clegg, honed by tennis foursomes and choreographed jogging trips, publicly humiliate the obese member of their cabinet. It is playground humour, and closely resembles the familiar childhood dynamic of the gang leaders laughing at the fat boy who trails in their wake.
But here's the other problem with these jokes - they aren't actually very funny. They raise a laugh because it is surprising to us to hear our elected leaders make such puerile gags about one of their colleagues, and because the playground bully in all of us rather enjoys laughing at the fat outsider.
But is this really the best that the talented and eloquent speechwriters working for these men can come up with? Is this really the apogee of British political humour? Jokes about Eric Pickles' weight are cheap, they are easy and worst of all they have been done before, several times.
Humour can play an important role in political debate, but only when it is deployed properly, using genuine wit to highlight an underlying point. Relying on predictable fat jokes to summon cheap sycophantic laughs from a party conference audience does not fit this description.
The contrast between George Osborne's indolent Pickle-prodding at conference and the lively wit on display when Barack Obama eviscerated Donald Trump at this year's Correspondents' dinner in Washington is a depressing illustration of just how pedestrian this persistent recourse to jokes about Eric Pickles' weight is (link to Obama vid).
It may well be the case that Eric Pickles doesn't actually mind the jokes, but he is not the only person listening to them. Also listening would have been many of the 22 per cent of men and 24 per cent of women in this country who are clinically obese.
These are the people at whom a 'fat tax' - a levy on high-fat goods mooted by the prime minister at conference - would be aimed. They are people who may well be chided and humiliated with regularity for their size in day-to-day life - they do not need to hear the same old insults from their country's leaders.
These jokes are not likely to spur the nation's obese into becoming healthy. The knowledge that they too would be the butt of fat jokes if they were in the cabinet is more likely to make them feel alienated and unwanted than to goad them into taking up Bikram yoga and drinking wheatgrass shakes for breakfast.
What's more, these jokes do not sit comfortably alongside possible legislation to tackle Britain's obesity problem. If this is a serious problem, and it is, then our leaders should take it seriously, and find other funnier ways to elicit obligatory chortles from their followers.
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