The Journal of Lynton Charles, Chancellor of the Duchy of Durham

Tuesday Mr Brown! Mr Brown! Mr Brown! Oh, you should have seen them orgasming on the back benches! What a performance! The rest of the world is utterly fucked, and heading to hell in a handcart, and which is the only country that will survive the slump? Not the Germans, not the Yanks, certainly not the Nips, but new Labour Britain, that's who!

No recession! No cuts! Money for pensioners! Money for business! Money for health! Nothing nasty at all! And all because we have been so prudent and virtuous. Time to sell Blind Lemons and buy Browns. I make sure that I am there to clap him on the shoulder as he leaves the chamber. He's unstoppable! Where can I sign up? I'll call Lolita first thing tomorrow. If only I can get to be a campaign manager or something. South-east co-ordinator of the Mr Brown for Leader movement should do it.

Wednesday Hmmm. Mustn't be hasty. I obviously drifted off during the bit where he said that taxes would have to go up to pay for health. Are we absolutely sure about this? If he means income tax must go up (as every newspaper in Britain is suggesting), then I'm a bit worried. I know it'll please Lord Roy and Gwyneth Dimwitty and that strange man from the Fabians, all of whom belong to the old "if it isn't seen to be hurting, then it won't be seen to be working" brigade. They always think that the middle classes (ie, almost everyone who actually votes) are gagging to pay more for everything, but I wonder how much of a coincidence it is that since we dropped the pipsqueaking stuff, we've begun to win elections rather than lose them.

By all means put up other taxes, which people might not notice so much. Tax Rolls-Royces, or motorbikes over 900cc, or increase stamp duty on houses worth more than a million. But if you begin to take it directly out of Jill Public's take-home earnings, which she has amassed at the end of a 50-hour week and another few hundred minutes of being stuck in traffic jams or under some bloke's armpit on the Northern Line, then my instinct is that she won't like it. She'll start looking round for some smooth-talking bastard who'll tell her that it's all a scandal, especially given that the service is so bad, half of the money is wasted anyway, and there really are alternatives that won't cost her a pfennig. Maybe it's different in Brown-land, where they don't pay much tax, but down here it's different. And it's down here that, when it comes to election night, really counts.

Thursday But suppose he doesn't mean it! Suppose what he's doing is winding the Tories up, while stimulating the long-lost erogenous zones of some of our own people? And he'll come back in two years (just as The Master contemplates the next, cosmic, phase of his own career) and tell everyone that no one's income tax needs to go up. In fact, in light of the new world boom, there might even be scope for some reductions . . .

I call Lolita, but she is in a meeting, nursing her third child in as many years while taking a high-level conference on the work-life balance. It is not till noon that she gets back to me. I explain that it would be terrific if I could buy her a drink, talk about old times.

There's a pause, during which I swear I can hear some sucking going on. There's a soft belch, and Lolita says: "You want to come on board, don't you? You're the fourth minister to call since yesterday. OK, let's meet. But I have to tell you that all the best jobs went long ago to the inner circle. The rest of you are just going to have to hope for deaths or accidents."

Or, I think nastily, while setting up lunch next week, for Blind Lemon to be leader after all.

This article first appeared in the 03 December 2001 issue of the New Statesman, Who needs 12 when one will do?