Competition - Win a bottle of champagne

No 3624 Set by Leonora Casement

"Politicians", wrote Richard Ingrams in the Observer, "tend to be pretty weird people with more eccentricities and obsessions than most of us." We asked for a speech from a politician in which he valiantly attempts, and fails, to hide just these obsessions, etc.

Report by Ms de Meaner

You did it both ways - first, emphasising weirdnesses already suspected (Basil Ransome-Davies); and second, providing some innocent politician with an obsession he's probably never even dreamt of (Will Bellenger). I only allowed these if I felt it would be a sort of poetic justice if they were true. Hon menshes to John O'Byrne (Ann Widdecombe) and G M Davies (William Hague). £15 to winners; the bottle goes to Adrian Fry.

PS: Many apologies for the infelicities over the comp numbering. Don't worry - we're an intelligent lot in the complex. We can work things out.

Ian Paisley

Madam Speaker, we have just heard the Prime Minister talk about the issue of Ireland. Has he not read Leviticus? Has he? "When any man hath a running issue out of his flesh he shall be unclean. Everything whereon he sitteth shall be unclean." I ask the Prime Minister whereon he sitteth. Upon his seat? His issue? He has gone to the dogs, and I do not mean those dogs, those hounds, that run around the tracks in the Belfast suburbs. At 100-8. Does he not desire a better country, as St Paul told the Hebrews? Does he not wish to run with patience the race that is set before us, as St Paul told the Hebrews? I take issue with his issue, for the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. As Isaiah tells us. Laid on him at 3-1 on. I have constituents, Madam Speaker, who wager that this Prime Minister is like unto an electric hare, as Haggai tells us. "He that earneth wages earneth wages to put into a bag with holes." I would not back him. Of making books, there is no end. Blessed are the bookmakers. For dogs have compassed me . . .

Will Bellenger

John Prescott

Of course, people look at me and say, "There's a man who doesn't exercise", but it isn't true. I can walk as well as the next man. If I am seen to travel by car, instead of on foot, it is because I need, in this job, always to look presentable. No one wants to see a Deputy Prime Minister in a dishevelled state. Of course, you might say I look dishevelled now, but this is because I had to walk up the stairs as the lifts had broken down. At home, I can often be seen walking about the living-room, and even into the garden, although I always make a point of combing my hair and adjusting my dress, just in case we have a visitor. As a ship's steward, I learnt the importance of smartness.

But to return to the subject, exercise has an important place in our society, and that place is in the gym or on the track. I have nothing against those who wish to jog in public places, but they should remember that they are on display. No one wants to bump into a sweaty body wearing nothing but a stained singlet and shorts. Decorum is all.

Katie Mallett

Ann Widdecombe

We must show Christian charity to genuine asylum-seekers. Of course we must. Our Lord, who was whipped and scourged by His Enemies, then nailed to a cross so that the blood flowed from the raw, gaping wounds in His near-naked body, taught us this. And I, for one, shall never forget it. The crucifix that dangled between my breasts, making me feel the weight of His commandments, is an eternal reminder of His message to believers.

But just as we must beware of false prophets, so we must be watchful against those who come to these islands to exploit our goodwill. I do not say that we should torture these sturdy beggars, binding them with chains or making them feel the sting of the lash on their bare, exposed flesh till their bodies are a bleeding, writhing mass of pain and their agonised cries rebound from the dungeon walls. But we must put in place the appropriate sanctions to ensure that only the genuine victims of persecution benefit from Britain's humane concern and material aid. Let us be tender, but let us be tough as well, keeping intact and inviolate the security of our own citizens.

Basil Ransome-Davies

Tony Blair

To those who ask when new Labour will cease to be new, I say this: politics isn't about new ideas becoming old, it's about new ideas being renewed. We don't look at our kids and say, "Look, they're getting old." No, we appreciate that they're becoming new adults. And if education teaches us anything, it teaches us we have a lot to learn from our kids because they haven't been educated yet. In this respect, being Prime Minister is a lot like being a father. Not a patrician father, laying down the law and going on about the old days, no, government is - metaphorically and literally - about being a new father, the kind who understands Ali G and dances to the latest Oasis album. And if the government occasionally fails to catch a nuance of Ali's streetwise patois, or dances embarrassingly, at least it knows that the kids will one day dance embarrassingly in attempting to keep up with their kids. We are the first generation to understand that by standing on our kids' shoulders we can help them see that the future doesn't have to be a product of the past.

Adrian Fry

No 3627 Set by Leonora Casement

"These days we are not allowed to just hit them over the head with a shovel. They have to die with dignity." So said London's chief rodent catcher. We want descriptions of horrible jobs, updated for our PC times. Max 200 words by 4 May.


This article first appeared in the 24 April 2000 issue of the New Statesman, Are the loonies coming back?