The Journal of Lynton Charles, Fiduciary Secretary to the Treasury

Friday (early) "Charles, Cheryl, 723 votes." Cheers from a denim-jacketed group of Trots, most of whom seem to be teachers. So much for the revolution. "Charles, Lynton, 19,207 votes." Boos from same and a little sporadic applause from Harriet and her nephews - the mainstay of my campaign. Last election I had 25,000-odd. The Tory vote is way down, too, so it's no change. Much to my surprise, we haven't lost any of the local annus mirabilis seats, either. Amazing. Oh, and I can tell you this, following Kidderminster: no one is closing any bloody A&E departments in my bloody seat. Was that scary, or what?

Friday (later) Goodbye Egg. Man that is born of woman hath but a short time to live. But how much less time does a politician have? I suppose it'll be Mikey P, though - knowing the Tories, they could go completely bonkers and appoint Mad Widdecombe or Captain Duncan Smith. Anyway, I'm home from the count, and awaiting the . . .

"Anj here. Hi, Lynton. Can you come and see TB asap? Say three? Yes? Good. Calm down. Car's on its way."

Best suit? No, too showy. Good suit, anyway - think of those cameras in Downing Street. Oh yes! Think of those cameras in Downing Street! Shine shoes. Bright tie. Bright tie, bright future. What's it going to be? Cabinet? Well, it can't be junior, they won't be called until tomorrow. Fringes of Cabinet? Not Agriculture, pleeease, please. Won't be Ulster. Enforcer? No, that's Prezza for sure. Blind Lemon to Home. The Waif to Education. Cookie stays, surely, or my name's Gloria Honeycomb. Biggles will be in. But what about women? There's got to be women! I am not a woman. It is Agriculture, I know it is. Four years of being pelted with manure by crazed yokels, of being woken up in the wee hours by idiots with hunting horns, of talking to vets about lesions. Ugh!

Friday (in the car) But maybe it's already begun! I may have missed something. I ask the driver if we can have the radio on. There's a road report, a weather forecast, some bollocks about the manager of Middlesbrough. Then there's a bloke speaking to the studio from Downing Street. Where I'm going! The Waif is in. Biggles is party chairman. Tessa's made it (didn't I tell you?). Blind Lemon goes to Home. And Cookie has given way to the Witchfinder General! Be afraid, Britain's enemies, be very afraid. We arrive. The cameras flash. The driver needs me to give a signature. I sign the chit "Gloria Honeycomb".

Friday (even later) He gets up from the easy chair, in his shirtsleeves, and advances towards me, hand outstretched. I go to meet him halfway, but catch my foot on something and - before I know it - I am sitting on my bum on the floor. Next to me is the object that caused my downfall, a large colourful plastic caterpillar. And next to it is a baby. It frowns at me. I smile at it.

"Sorry, Lynton! My turn to keep an eye on junior. You can help me give him his tea in a moment, if you like."

He motions me to sit, which I do, only to be spiked by one of those beakers with a spout. "Lynton. Big work ahead. You come with great testimonials. You understand what needs to be done in a way that, frankly, not everyone does."

I'm his, I'm his.

"It's going to require hard work and discipline. Lots of discipline. You've been effective in the House. Now Lynton, you're not a woman. If you had been, I'd have brought you into the Cabinet. And that may still happen. I want you to be deputy chief whip, I want you to be Chancellor of the Duchy of Durham. Big promotion. Can I count on you?"

Yes, I tell him. And does Leo need his nappy changing?

This article first appeared in Meet the people who make Tony Blair sweat

2001-06-18