Gordon takes the high road

Questions, questions . . . Tough ones from Tony, lucrative ones from Cherie, and a killer one from a

Scene 1: Tony is logged on to the No 10 website. He’s typing in softball questions.

[Types] Dear Tony, what's your greatest achievement in power?

AB, London

Good question, AB. Of course it's not about what I've achieved so much as what Labour has achieved under me. That's an important distinction. I'd never accept the credit for other people's work. Take inflation, standing at 3 per cent and rising. That's Gordon's achievement. Or the nursing crisis.

We can thank Patricia Hewitt for . . .

A crimson pop-up splats across the screen.

"Call in and win! £1,000 could be yours. Just answer this easy question: What's Tony's youngest son called?"

a) Cleo

b) Theo

c) Leo

d) Johnny Weissmuller

Tony picks up the phone and calls the premium-rate number. He gets put through to a recorded message. The voice sounds familiar.

Cherie: Hi, stakeholder. Big respect for supporting the Labour Party. Your call is earning us a whopping 85p per minute. In a couple of ticks I'll ask you to leave your answer, but first let's all perk ourselves up with a burst of our victory anthem as sung by moi. With a-one and a-two and a-one-two-three-four. Thiiiiiiings can only get bettttt - errrr!

Tony slams down the phone.

Tony: Cherie!

Cherie trots in.

Cherie: Hi. Like my dress?

Tony: What the hell's going on? You've put a premium-rate number on the No 10 website.

Cherie: Yeah, and I've raised over 25 grand for the party - and that doesn't include my voice-over fee and consultancy charges. And a new outfit to get me in the mood for singing.

Tony: You idiot. These quizzes are a complete fix.

Cherie: I followed the rules. I'm a judge, remember?

Tony: But everyone will say we're corrupt.

Cherie: They say that anyway. And the party's desperate. A year from now we'll have fewer members than the Gary Glitter fan club.

Tony: Actually, we reached that point last Christmas. Oh God. Someone's probably lodging a complaint right now.

Cherie: About what? Labour raising funds for Labour? There are no grounds for a complaint.

Tony: Huh. You think I haven't got enemies?

Cherie: Well, not as many as you used to. That's one advantage of the membership slump.

Tony: Thanks, Cherie.

Scene 2: Labour's carbon-neutral battle bus is heading for Scotland. It keeps breaking down. Yet again it's stopped at a burger bar to refuel with chip fat. Gordon keeps the Brownites entertained with an impromptu speech.

Gordon: Well, my friends, what an exhilarating campaign this is going to be.

Brownites: Bring it on!

Gordon: Both the nation and the party are gripped by the burning issues of the day. First, did she dump William or was it the other way round? Secondly, will Michael Meacher get 44 MPs to sign their political death warrants?

Brownites: Fat chance!

Gordon: And thirdly - the leadership question: should we have left Tony in Downing Street looking wistfully at aerial maps of Iran? Or should we have brought him to Scotland where he might have done some real damage?

Brownites: Leave him behind!

Gordon: Well, I felt it was the right thing to do. Poor Tony doesn't feel at home in Scotland. There are no Tories there. And talking of washed-up Blairites - David Miliband.

Loud wolf whistles.

Gordon: Little David has finally admitted what the rest of us knew all along. That he's a gutless wimp with no stomach for a fight. Naturally I'll be giving him a post in my cabinet that recognises these qualities - he'll be chancellor. My chancellor. Not that I'll write the Budget for him. No, he'll have a free hand to do that himself. I happen to know he can take dictation at 75 words per minute.

Cheers and laughter. Gordon sits down. Sarah hugs him.

Sarah: You're lovely when you're relaxing with your friends.

Gordon: Thanks.

Sarah: And then when the cameras appear, you freeze!

Gordon [freezes]: No I don't . . . Cameras? Where?

A local TV crew has boarded the bus. A journalist approaches him.

Journalist: What's the key to winning in Scotland, Chancellor?

Gordon: Thank you . . . Yes, er, the key to our campaign is focusing our, er, focus on targeted delivery, er, especially in those key areas where delivering targets is key to both targeted focusing and focused targeting. I'll be saying more about that in Edinburgh. Thank you.

Scene 3: Tony's office. Yates of the Yard enters.

Yates: Afternoon.

Tony [sighs]: The computers are where you left them. We haven't changed the passwords.

Yates: No, no, this time I'm investigating an allegation of telephone fraud.

Tony: God! I knew it. What bastard lodged the complaint?

Yates: He's here.

Yates opens the door. In walks Jonathan Powell.

Powell: May I?

Yates: It's highly irregular, but all right.

Powell: Tony Blair, I'm arresting you on suspicion of fraud . . .

This article first appeared in the 30 April 2007 issue of the New Statesman, Pakistan: The Taliban takeover