The government has refused a request from the collapsing van manufacturer LDV for the loan of a fiver till Friday, announced Lord Mandelson today.
"LDV, as you know, is owned by my very good boating chum, Oleg Deripaska," pointed out the Business Secretary, "And even if I were to reach into my pocket and find a crisp new five pound note - and I don't generally carry cash, it's quite, quite vulgar and I much prefer to use somebody else's - then I would immediately come under a scandalous attack from the gutter press for being biased towards my billionaire friends. I have to think of my spotless reputation for honesty, you know - very important."
The LDV management are optimistically turning out their pockets for loose change to see if they have enough coppers between them to buy the company. However, they said that, realistically, their best hope of saving the company now lay in sitting outside the headquarters of Lloyds TSB and Royal Bank of Scotland under a newspaper, on the off-chance that a banker hurrying to the nearest four-star restaurant might accidentally drop a little of the £500bn of taxpayers' money which the government has kindly handed to them by guaranteeing to underwrite their monumentally wrong-headed investments in various kinds of rubbish, in the vague hope that they might actually grant somebody a mortgage this year.