Village life - Kevin Maguire tells Tony's risque joke

Tonytown latest: T Blair tells risque joke, Pete tints hair, and Big Gordie does a "Roman"

Into Tonytown, and still the biggest trade fair in Europe despite a drop in the number of suits ready to fork out £475 a plate at Labour's gala dinner. Chief salesman T Blair told a risque joke about spending a penny and a Swedish bloke accusing him of making a pass. And that Geordie bouncer, Alan "Remember Me?" Milburn, swaggered in to Brighton to berate too-nice-for-her-own-good Tessa Jowell for botching an attempt to derail Big Gordie's bandwagon by proclaiming his, er, leadership as inevitable. Poor Tessa also endured an hour's hairdryer treatment in Peter Mandelson's hotel suite. He, by the way, is dyeing his hair. A woman of Petulant Pete's acquaintance describes it as a cheap job with an unflattering, orangey-brown hue.

Mockery marks the beginning of the end after Tonytown's more muscular denizens refuse to accept their tormentor will be around for much longer. A deathly silence sounds an alarm call when barons are invited to provide teasers for the outgoing premier at the trade union liaison hate-fest. After pleas for someone to ask him something, a hand rises at the back. It is a pimpled young chap deputising for the head of the transport clerks bunch.

"I've got a question, Prime Minister," says our man. "When are you going?"

The party chairman, Ian "Big Mac" McCartney, is none too pleased with Liam "Brains" Byrne after the health minister's foray into print with a Fabian paper on how to revive the Labour movement. Brainy Byrne's belated telephone call to ask Big Mac if he minds discovers he does, very much, as he is called "sonny" and advised to concentrate on his day job.

The smooth transition of power is evident at warm-white-wine receptions where T Blair leaves as Big Gordie arrives. Amicus kicks out a Sky News cameraman to permit a Comrade Blair to argue that he's really a union man to an audience of dropping jaws. At the T&G do, our working-class hero insists his entourage keep well away the threatening figures of middle-aged women sacked by Gate Gourmet. Gordie thinks the T&G's such a great bash that he pops in twice. He's greeted by an empty room on his first visit, when he turns up two hours early.

Big Gordie has followed Roman Abramovich into football by investing in Cowdenbeath FC, in Scotland's Third Division. His budget being tighter, Gordie's foray is a £30 cheque to sponsor a teenage midfielder in his constituency's club. There's no seat in the directors' box, but the Chancellor's picture is to appear in the programme at every home game, an indignity for him, as a fan of Cowdenbeath's rival Raith Rovers.

Best joke of the Labour conference: What do Kate Moss and the Liberal Democrats have in common? Both are trying to give up Charlie.

Kevin Maguire is associate editor (politics) of the Daily Mirror

Kevin Maguire is Associate Editor (Politics) on the Daily Mirror and author of our Commons Confidential column on the high politics and low life in Westminster. An award-winning journalist, he is in frequent demand on television and radio and co-authored a book on great parliamentary scandals. He was formerly Chief Reporter on the Guardian and Labour Correspondent on the Daily Telegraph.

This article first appeared in the 03 October 2005 issue of the New Statesman, Iraq: our fatal blunder