Competition - Win a bottle of champagne

No 3628 Set by Ben Ross

David Blunkett has defined a broken pledge as one "intended partly as a joke". We asked for the next Labour manifesto, indicating pledges of this variety.

Report by Ms de Meaner

I agree with Gordon Gwilliams, who complained that "the requirement to specify the jokes was almost impossible". I have still been strict. However, you will notice that I have let El Basilio into the winners box, even though he hasn't actually indicated which are the "jokes". That is because the deep, deep sense of irony pervading the whole entry, indicated by the very first "pledge", carried him through. £15 to the winners; the bottle goes to Will Bellenger.

. . . We will introduce into our approach to crime the policy of "three strikes and you're out" -- unless, of course, you happen to bump into an angry Norfolk farmer armed with a shotgun, in which case one strike is all you're ever likely to get.

We shall restore full rights to the trade unions - but we'd much rather have no strikes at all here, if you please.

Our transport policy will treat the public and private sectors with equal concern - so whether you're in a bus, train or car, you'll have the same chance of fretting and fuming in delays, jams and hold-ups.

With regard to sport, we will do everything possible to encourage excellence in every field - or better still, persuade the German football team to sign for England, or the Australians to give up cricket for synchronised knitting.

Investing in the future, we shall substantially increase expenditure on education, 30 per cent of the extra funding going on the renovation of school buildings, 30 per cent on raising teachers' salaries - with the remaining 50 per cent being earmarked for books and equipment . . .

Michael Cregan

*All private schools will be required to pay one quarter of their annual profits to educational charities .

*Her Majesty's civil list will now be responsible for the payment of workers in the motor industry, by transferring their ownership to the royal family.

*All [new] Labour shortlists will contain at least one from the following minorities: school students, peers of the realm (excepting "working peers") and Old Labour activists .

*We will introduce [performance-related pay] into the following professions: the media, the clergy1, the armed forces .

*House prices will be pegged to an index relating postcodes to the weekly pay of players in the Football League .

*We will set up a [Pledge Hotline, a Pledge Minister] and an independent body+ to review1 pledges .

*We will abolish the current distinction between first-class1 and second-class postage2.

*[The Channel Isles will be ruled from the mainland].

*All pledges marked are partly in jest, and those phrases marked + are principally in jest. Passages in square brackets are mainly serious, and words marked are really definite pledges, [honest+]. Words marked 1 or 2 may become jokes.

Will Bellenger

* We pledge to secure for workers by hand or brain the full fruits of their labour through common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange;

* Whenever undue political pressure is exerted by Washington, we shall tell the President of the United States to go forth and multiply;

* Capital punishment will be reintroduced for major financial crimes (eg, hijacking pension funds, waste of public subsidies).

* Co-operation with Europe: government taxes on alcohol and tobacco will be aligned with Spanish rates; also, a true National Lottery of the French model;

* Removal of surplus managerial layers and all surveillance bodies from education; restoration of the student grant;

* We shall abolish the monarchy and exile the royal family to the Malvinas.

Basil Ransome-Davies

*A funny thing happened to me on the way to the theatre tonight: I took a privatised tube and discovered an improved level of service;

* There was a Welshman, a Scotsman and an Irishman. The Scotsman had a parliament, the Welshman had an assembly - but the Irishman won't get anything until he decommissions.

* How many workers does it take to change a light bulb? Fewer than before, with flexible working practices.

* My mother-in-law's coming to stay next week and I'm delighted. I believe in encouraging family values.

* A man walked into a pub with a parrot on his shoulder and ordered two pints, one for himself and one for the bird. The barman asked: "Does your parrot talk as well as drink beer?" "No," said the man, "he's been struck dumb by the substantial but reasonable taxes on alcohol."

* What do you call half a 1950s singing duo in a bank? Financial Prudence.

* Finally, on a serious note. Life under Labour will be better for working people.

Ian Birchall

No 3631 Set by Stan Knafler

"Dean Nelson took his family to India for a four-week tour. They flew to Delhi, where his children were shocked and upset by the sight of child beggars. But, after finding huge vultures' nests in the hotel gardens, they were reassured and the rest of the holiday went smoothly. The Nelsons spent two weeks in Goa, then went to a tiger reserve near Kerala. The children adored it. 'We'd feared they would be moaning reminders of our recklessness in bringing them to India,' said Nelson, 'but they actually moved obstacles and transformed us from tourists into people.'" (From This Week.) We want you to write a travel piece on the trials and tribulations of travelling first class in poorer countries. Max 200 words and in by 1 June.


This article first appeared in the 22 May 2000 issue of the New Statesman, Hacking their way to a fortune